All of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, and at VinePair we wanted to go out with a bang. So it is with great pleasure that we publish our first-ever 50 Best Spirits of the Year, joining our annual beer and wine rankings.
All the spirits on this list have been sampled and reviewed by VinePair’s tasting panel. After compiling an extensive list of contenders, we met for several rounds of responsible tastings (socially distanced six feet apart, outdoors), a few more rounds on Zoom for lengthy debates, and finally finished a list that we’re especially excited to publish for the first time.
Here are VinePair’s 50 Best Spirits of 2020, tasted and ranked.
This rye-based distillate proves that vodka can deliver distinct aromas and flavors. Toasted sourdough notes lead the nose, before a well-rounded palate that ends with a hint of rye spice. Average price: $29.
It’s easy to look past Patrón in the search for new and exciting tequilas. But this is a brand we came back to time and time again this year, and it delivered on every occasion with every bottle in its lineup. Among them, the reposado stands out the most to us this year. Sharing the pale gold hue of a fine Chardonnay, this tequila serves citrus, vegetal, and spiced notes of remarkable intensity. Average price: $51.
As 2020’s relentless hits just kept coming this year, so did the rise of countless newly minted home bartenders. And for us, this Caribbean mix became a home bar essential. Along with VinePair’s staff, those wanting to shake their best or first Daiquiris should look no further than Plantation 3 Stars, a blend of aged and un-aged rums from Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. While carbon filtration is used to maintain an almost clear color, all the character of the base molasses distillates remains. Given its versatility and mass appeal, we give this rum not three stars but five. Average price: $20.
Código 1530 Reposado tequila defines its category by showing us that reposado is more than a path between blanco and añejo. Instead, Código 1530 proves it’s a route worth taking. At its core is all the savory complexity of the brand’s similarly impressive blanco. Some six months of aging in former Napa Valley Cab French oak barrels imbue this tequila with a note so unmistakably vanilla, it’s hard to tell whether there is any residual sweetness or whether it’s sensory memory kicking in (likely the more powerful latter). Either way, this tequila manages to be both luxurious and lithe, and captures the beauty of the spirit’s transition from blanco to añejo. Average price: $69.
And our favorite…