It’s that time of the month again; we at WM towers have been attending to the “challenging” task of selecting a few favourite bottlings that we feel worthy of your consideration. It seems that the shifting seasons may be beginning to move our tastes away from the the more delicate, summery end of the flavour spectrum and back towards the rich and autumnal. This is hardly unusual of course and “playing to your palate” is rarely a bad idea.
This time around the common themes of sherry and peat feature across the board, with a group split between a pair of densely peaty old favourites from Islay, a recent, very well received BenRiach and another favourite from the ever-enlightening Amrut distillery of Bangalore. Regardless of seeming similarities in style this is a highly eclectic set of bottles, each with its own distinctive take on a theme, just as whisky should be. Enjoy
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
Laphroaig 18 year old
Price isn't a guarantee of quality, especially where scarcity plays a part in its determination. That being said, while there are some phenomenally good whiskies available in the entry level £25-40 bracket, the real action for me comes in the £60-200 category. Laphroaig 18 years old sits at the lower end of this price group but it really exemplifies the difference a few years can make to a whisky. Fans of the more robust 10 years old or Quarter Cask expressions may at first be a little perplexed because the peat has softened somewhat, just as you'd expect from an extra 8 years under wood. Don't get me wrong it's still here but it's tempered. What the whisky has gained is a sophisticated sheen, a greater integration of flavours and, above all, some delicious wood sugars that manifest themselves in a delicate notes such as a lemon-sherbet fizz that dances on your tongue, something you may not expect from Laphroaig. This is a class act.
£59.76 at www.masterofmalt.com
BenRiach 1996 - Caskstrength.net
After reviewing this latest, and second, release from the good chaps at Caskstrength.net, I knew it was likely to come to mind as a perfect choice for this month’s staff picks. This is a top selection that blends a heavy dose of bourbon-like richness, the distillery’s natural freshness and a gentle, fruity PX influence to create a deliciously approachable BenRiach. As I write this there are still a few bottles left (though it can’t me many now!) and this is serious stuff on the value for money stakes.
£54.95 at www.masterofmalt.com
Amrut Intermediate Sherry Cask
Amrut "Intermediate Sherry Matured" – the name may not roll off the tongue but this whisky certainly rolls and caresses the taste buds, lavishing us with a beautifully balanced range of gratifying flavours. It's my favourite expression from the classy Indian distillery that has taken the world of whisky by storm and by now should need no introduction. The name derives from it's innovative three stage maturation process in which the new make spirit is initially matured in Virgin-and-Ex-Bourbon barrels, followed by a gap year in European Ex-Oloroso Sherry butts, and lastly a final fling in Bourbon casks back where it all began. The result is rich and luxurious but full of life – a Sherry Bourbon sandwich! So if you're into sherried whiskies, and fancy trying something differen
£60.95 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Ardbeg 1990 Airigh Nam Beist
For many, Ardbeg Galileo has been one of the main talking points this month, flying off shelves at a rate of knots despite drawing some rather varied reviews. With that in mind, it seems like an apt time to feature perhaps my favourite, affordable, Ardbeg of recent times. It may have a mouthful for a name but unlike much of this great distillery’s recent output there is no fresh oak, peating experiments or undue marking fluff here. The Beist is a natural Ardbeg full of depth, power and delicacy that’s well worth grabbing while it’s still available.
£110.00 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Prices correct on date of publishing