The adage that Americans are “drinking less but drinking better” doesn’t hold anymore when it comes to spirits. It now appears that consumers are drinking better and more distillates. Spirits now command nearly one-third of all beverage alcohol sold in the U.S. Sales have steadily increased across most categories. The high roller consumer action for the next five to eight years, in my opinion, will be in blue chip spirits—100% agave Tequilas from Mexico, single-malt Scotch whiskies and Irish whiskeys, small production bourbons and rye whiskeys from heartland America, designer vodkas, cachaça from Brazil, up-market gins and the French Caribbean oak-aged rums called rhum agricoles.
Over the past year I’ve evaluated approximately 250 spirits. As with all criticism, an upper echelon of products stands out from the pack.
These carefully selected 50 are the very best of what I sampled in 2007 and are libations that more than deserve your attention. They all fall into either the SUPERB (90-95) or CLASSIC (96-100) rating categories. As opposed to the chosen Value Spirits of three issues ago (November 15, 2007) where price/value ratios dictate the line-up, these two score and ten spirits are cited only for their inherent splendor and categorical brilliance.
The silver thread that runs through this particular cloth is the admirable quality of every single product. Each is a supremely satisfying and gratifying experience of the first rank. So, here’s to 2007 and nine straight years of spirits growth. Salud!