Every year since 2001, Diageo, owners and custodians of some of Scotland's most treasured whisky distilleries, have released a limited selection of single cask whiskies. Earlier this week we were lucky enough to attend the launch of 2015's "Special Releases" and, having sampled the full range of these sublime liquids, our recommendations for this month almost pick themselves.
The whiskies are always special, always rare, and always selected with the utmost care from the best stocks available to Diageo. Prices range from £80 to £2,400 so there really is something to suit most people's budget.
It is a common misconception that blended whiskies are inferior to single malts and I was reminded of this recently when I overheard a conversation in the pub. "Single malts are far better than the blended whiskies" boomed a voice at the bar "go for the Macallan 10".
It goes to show that a little information can be a dangerous thing, I have nothing against Macallan's entry level malts, but the pair had overlooked some really nice blends behind the bar including Ballantine's 17 Year Old and a very tempting Black Bull by Duncan Taylor.
Built in 1962, the Macduff distillery is something of a whippersnapper in scotch whisky terms. Given the Scotch industry’s tendency to trade on its heritage that could be considered a hindrance. Not benefiting from the excitement and goodwill afforded to new distilleries but lacking the history of the older names, a distillery like Macduff has to rely on the quality of its output to impress people. It has released whisky under the name Macduff and Glen Deveron. Now, with its latest releases, the whisky will be known as The Deveron.
Okay! A short but sweet post coming up, this one is packed with exotic goodness as we explore the rums of South and Central America.
For August we thought we'd steer away from whisk(e)y for our staff picks so here is something a bit different – a lovely selection of rums (or maybe rons or perhaps even rhums?). Anyway these are four absolute crackers.
We’re going to share our take on a classic whiskey cocktail, perfect at any time of the year, especially refreshing during the summer months. We’ve been incredibly self sacrificing while writing this piece, trying various combinations of ingredients and methods to bring you the definitive recipe. Ladies and gentlemen, we present the, thoroughly well researched, Whisky Marketplace Old Fashioned...
As any chef will tell you, it’s all about the ingredients, and that’s a maxim mixologists will no doubt echo. Some of you may baulk at the idea of putting expensive or high quality whiskey into your cocktails but before we get too protective let’s examine the idea. In our view there are broadly two types of cocktail, long drinks with plenty of non-alcoholic mixer and shorter concoctions that are chiefly made up of pure spirit plus a few additives. We’re going to nail our colours to the mast here, the short cocktails are the ones we really like - hey, we’re whiskey drinkers, right? So if the cocktail is primarily made up of the whisky with a few additional flavourings, you’re going to want to put decent components into it. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Notice anything unusual about these staff picks? That’s right, there’s only two whiskeys. The remaining two items are bottles of bitters. Confused? If you read this article with our take on the classic Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail you won’t be.
Like most serious whisky commentators we’ve always told you not to put ice in your whiskey. Cocktails are of course an exception to that. But as any of you who have ever tried it will know, ice does strange things to whisky. As it cools certain flavours are suppressed and others seem to come to the fore. Not all whiskeys remain pleasant and some are distinctly uncooperative in cocktails.
Grain whisky was seen for many years as only being fit for bulking out blended whisky and the notion of quality grain-only expressions would have been laughed at. As any experienced blender will tell you, they have long known that good quality grain whisky is an essential component which binds together the malts in a premium blend. More recently grain has been bottled and sold in both single grain expressions and blended grain-only expressions.
We haven’t posted any staff picks for a few months - ahem, five to be exact. We have no excuse. So this is something of a new start and for that reason we have chosen to look at some new products. We haven’t tried them so they're here because they’re new and because they caught our eye.
[Editor's note] First publishes in 2012, this article still gets a huge amount of traffic but we noticed that some of the recommendations were out of dates so we've updated the list for 2014.
Buying a Christmas present for the whisky lover in your life? Youve perused their whisky collection and read Stu's excellent Christmas Whisky Gifts: Buying Guide. But you want to buy them something other than, or perhaps in addition to, a bottle of whisky.