It’s staff picks time again (where does the time go, how time flies, ah I remember the days when.. etc.) and it seems variety is the spice of life this time around, with no less than three countries and four styles being championed. The focus seems to be on individualistic, characterful whiskies as you might expect and, with value for money taken into account, each is of excellent quality.
First up is a Japanese blend which ranks very highly on the quality-to-cost ratio and works beautifully as a Mizuwari (tall with water and ice), ideal as the summer takes hold. Next, in the cooler climes of bonny Scotland is the often under-rated Old Pulteney distillery, with perhaps their best standard release and one that has a growing band of followers. The third on the list comes from my personal adventure into the world of bourbon, compelling me to recommend one of the best I have yet tasted before heading back to Scotland for a recently reviewed, and beautifully constructed blended scotch.
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
Old Pulteney 17 Years Old
With all the noise surrounding the 21 year old from this fantastic distillery it would be easy to overlook this little gem. The characteristic maritime saltiness you get from the Old Pulteney 12 year old is here but somewhat tempered. Balancing that are toffee sweetness, fruit strains and some maturing wood notes - not too mature mind you. This is a great little whisky, for me at its peak age, and very good value.
£48.95 at www.whiskyshopdufftown.co.uk
Nikka from the Barrel
Nikka from the Barrel (which I always have a bottle of in my cabinet) is a well crafted blend of grain whisky from Miyagikyo distillery and malt whisky from Yoichi. Big piquant sherry notes with confident fruity, floral flavours that dance on the palate. It's lively and spicy on delivery with a good balance of sweet and sharp. Nikka from the Barrel is bottled at 51.4% and comes in a delightful square vessel containing 50cl for your enjoyment - simple and elegant in a very Japanese sense and very good value.
£25.99 at www.masterofmalt.com
Bourbon sometimes gets overlooked by a certain section of the whisky loving fraternity and examples like the well–regarded, small batch Noah's Mill are a perfect example of why this is such a shame. All of the classic bourbon notes are here with a good dose of heady vanilla sugar, toffee and gingery spice but that's far from the whole story as soft ripe fruit, caramel cream and hints of leather lend a real sense of elegance to the profile. An exceptional bourbon well worth seeking out.
£50.49 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Compass Box Great King Street - Artist's Blend
As the weather takes a turn towards something approaching summer, many drams can start to feel just a little bold and heavy-set, not what you might call refreshing. As such, it’s great to find a few quality whiskies that show a light, delicate nature and also work well as a simple long drink or an interesting cocktail mixer. This wonderfully constructed blend from the ever dependable Mr Glazer and Co. fits the bill perfectly with its mix of fresh, zesty citrus, juicy pear and spring-like herbal notes, making it a must for those summer scorchers.
£23.45 at www.masterofmalt.com
Prices correct on date of publishing