This year’s class of top spirits might generate a little controversy. To start, an American-made brandy, Germain-Robin Alembic Brandy One-Time Blend No. 25, scored higher than many fine Cognacs. The list also includes not one, but two American single malts— Westland Winter 2016 American Single Malt Whiskey and Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey—ranked alongside iconic Scotch single-malt counterparts.
It’s reflective of what’s going on in the spirits industry, where innovation is shaking things up. A banner number of small and craft distilleries were purchased by larger entities over the course of 2017—arguably, a nod toward the innovation and nimbleness these smaller players bring to the market, as well as the increasing demand and appreciation for such products. At the same time, the number of new distilleries continues to grow.
Going forward, all these new entrants may represent a thorn in the side to legacy spirits producers. But for consumers, it means that we will likely have even more varied and exciting options to choose from than ever before. That’s a prospect worth celebrating. So raise your glass, filled with any of these finest spirits reviewed this year.