This past year has brought much to celebrate, including the continued (if cautious) return to gatherings with family and friends, and openings (and re-openings) of bars and restaurants across the country.
It’s also brought a line-up of memorable spirits—and a number of surprises.
This list was compiled from the hundreds of bottles we’ve had the opportunity to review over the past 12 months. It includes a top-scoring new bourbon that hailed from Colorado—not Kentucky—and an attention-getting Italian vermouth infused with Japanese cherry blossom that filled our glasses with pink-tinged Martinis. A toasty rye whiskey from Denmark shared space with top-tier American-made ryes, and a debut gin from Kenya charmed with brisk citrus and spice.
Of note: This year’s Top 100 doesn’t include Scotch whisky—the first time since 2013 that has happened. To be clear, that omission isn’t a knock on venerable Scotch, but it afforded us the opportunity to, instead, highlight blended Scotch. And a surprising dearth of samples opened the door to reviewing a wider range of whiskey styles. As a result, this year’s list includes several American and international single malts. Again: a year of surprises, but also a year of delights. —Kara Newman