There are those for whom every New Year must start and continue with the intense notes of tar, creosote and soot.
There are many who can’t get through the year without a sufficient intake of spice, cocoa and the lingering smoke of campfire embers. As well as a fusion of fruit cake, treacle and honey heather.
They are called whisky lovers.
If you could have one bottle of whisky a month to keep you going through the year, what would that bottle would be? What one label would you choose per month? Money being no object. Uninhibited self-indulgence being your New Year Resolution.
JANUARY Yamazaki 55
Suntory has just launched its oldest aged expression to date. One costs US$60,000. Bottled in 2020 at 46% ABV, the expression celebrates the ‘Japanese Shōwa era’ of the 1960s, A blend of single malts, featuring components distilled in 1960 under the supervision of Suntory’s founder Shinjiro Torii. The liquid was then aged in mizunara casks, followed by further maturation in white oak casks in 1964. On the bench has to be Talisker 43 YO. Or Ardbeg’s new super-super-smokey Hypernova. Or lesser Superbnova. If you can’t get one of the 234 bottle of Crabbie’s Chain Pier, the first single malt to be produced in Edinburgh in almost 100 years.
If you cant hold of a bottle of A Glen Grant 72-year-old or a £92K bottle of 81 year old The Reach – the oldest expression ever released by The Macallan, Glenallachie will suffice. Recently released is its 21-Year-Old Cask Strength Single Malt Two marrying a selection of vintages from 1997 to 1999.
A year can’t go by without some Billy Walker. Sherry finish is a must for mid-winter. The Scotch whisky distillery has just released six expressions each drawn from a single cask hand selected by master distiller Billy Walker who says “Exploring the unique interaction between the GlenAllachie spirit and different types of oak cask, each expression has its own incredibly unique DNA.”
The 32-year-old Pedro Ximénez puncheon with its warming glazed fig and cuddly mocha notes is hand-numbered and non-chill filtered. February should be Glenallachie month. If that’s not to your taste seek out White Heather 21 Year Old and its mix of Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso puncheons and Appalachian virgin oak casks. Golden-bronze. Butterscotch. Peat-reek. Heather and Honey. The perfect Feb.
The new 24-Year-Old Caol Ila isn’t a bad shout either.
A must for St Patrick’s Day. About the Dublin whiskey finished in alligator char new oak, George Harper, Master Blender, says : “When developing Cask Strength 2021, we wanted to shine a light on the true DNA of the original Roe & Co 106 blend with the Single Grain component, allowing us to explore the tasting notes associated with our current inventory.
Different malts and grains all bring their own unique flavour characteristics, as such each have their own positives and make up important building blocks to a blend.” Roe & Co’s Japanese Sugi should be an either/or this month.
A classy hair of dog after a month of Irish whiskey is another month of it. The craic will still be in your bloodstream. This is first Single Cask crafted by Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman to bear his name. Distilled in the year he joined in 1998. Bottled at 54.5% ABV, just 144 bottles are available at €710. Ardbeg Traigh Bhen is a handy understudy. If you have had too much of the Irish.
Order your early summer limited edition whisky now. Either Lagavulin Offerman Edition: Guinness Cask Finish aged for four months in former Guinness casks from the Open Gate Brewery in Maryland. Or Glenfiddich and Mr Porter’s new $425 limited edition of 1500 bottles is a 20-year-old single malt made by creative director, Ben Palmer and Malt Master Brian Kinsman. If you are too late , try the equally limited Royal Brackla from London’s oldest wine merchants, Berry Bros & Rudd. In 1835, it was the first Scotch to be granted a Royal Warrant and the rights to call itself Royal Brackla. This seal of approval from King William IV led to Brackla being known as ‘The King’s Own Whisky’ Or failing that, Royal Lochinagar.
The marrying cask pangs will be biting again.A rarity aged in three different sherry casksby Zerose Yang - Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez (PX) and Moscatel.
Says Kavalan CEO Mr YT Lee. “It’s all about multiplying and enriching the sherry flavours.The flavours collide through a myriad combinations, cask whiskies, creating up to nine distinct sherry dimensions.” ($83).
The child of Dr. Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s director of whisky creation, this exquisite whisky is made from barley growing along the Dornoch on Scotland’s east coast. Every harvest and therefore every whisky is unique and different. You need a bottle of Glenmorangie every six months. You must not keep away from Dr Lumsden for long.
Initially aged in bourbon casks prior tio a finishing period in casks that once contained Muscat and Sémillion wines. The name comes from The Cadboll Cup, a silver goblet dating back to the 16th century from which the Macleods of Cadboll reputedly quaffed.
AUGUST /OCTOMORE EDITION
Adam Hannett’s sublime Octomore Edition: 12.2 (£136.01) is a summery fruity whisky of melon, coconut, peach and honeysuckle with layer after layer of flavour and aroma. Befitting Bruichladdich and the famed Progessive Hebridean Distillers. Or maybe Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength 2021 with its subtle BBQ, manuka honey, sea salt toffee, cinnanmon stroopwafels and burnt marshmallow notes. Waiting in the wings must be a bottle of Bowmore No Corners to Hide.
Finished for two years in Cognac casks, this sweet whisky will warm the proverbial cockles although may not please your accountant. You’ll have to decide between it and Speyside distillery Glen Grant’s limited edition 60-year-old single malt scotch whisky in celebration of the distilling Diamond Anniversary of master distiller, Dennis Malcolm. Bottled from a single ex-Oloroso sherry cask filled in 1960, making it the oldest distillery bottling in the brand’s 181-year history. Only 360 decanters are available worldwide. At $29,500.. Each sustainable walnut presentation case has the renowned distiller’s signature engraved within it and includes a Certificate of Authenticity, signed personally by Dennis Malcolm.
So many possible and probables. At $4600/£3250 , The Last Drop Signature 50 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky might be the most self-indulgent way to bring the whisky year to a resounding end. See out the old year and see in the new with Master Blender Colin J.P.Scott.
But then again so would Michael Henry’s Littlemill Testament 1976 ($10,800). Only 250 bottles have been made, all in Glencairn crystal. But it could be another Glenmorangie : Tale of Winter ($100).
It proclaims itself as a “richly radiant whisky for winter jumper days". The 13-year-old single malt finished in Marsala wine casks is the perfect end of the year/ beginning of the next whisky.
Says its creator : “The experience begins with light flurries of fruit and honey, building to torrents of cocoa dust, flakes of red pepper and chunks of Brazil-nut toffee. It culminates in a feels-like-forever finish that swirls with cinnamon, ginger and clove.
With breathtaking scenery, sprawling views of the South Downs and sparkling wines galore, Niamh Walsh discusses the beautiful Exton Park; home to 60 acres of lush vineyards that are carefully grown, nurtured and harvested to produce something rather extraordinary… exquisite English wine.
Traditionally, women have always been dissociated from whisky. Just imagine... old leather armchairs, men & their cigars sat in smoky bars sipping on the golden elixir. But where has this perception come from? Kevin Pilley sets out to explore the whisky myth, and how women are breaking these stereotypes in 2022.