I’ve always been a fan of a good single malt whisky and I’ve tried a couple for the Christmas season (I know, I work very hard for the readers here), both as gifts and as drinkies at home. I’m not a professional taster or anything so feel free to suggest alternatives or disagree vehemently.
If you have someone who’s interested in single malts in the family but who doesn’t know loads already, have a look at the Single Malt Whisky Experience pack you can find in supermarkets. It’s a great introduction to the different styles of Scotch – the peaty Talisker, which is so smoky it tastes a little like seaweed to me, the Singleton of Dufftown which has a similar character…personally I’d be happier with a full bottle of Dalwhinnie, which is less peaty, a lot smoother and tastes so rich you could mistake it for a liqueur. The novice who wants to know a bit more will welcome these small bottles – getting stuck with 75cl of something you really don’t like isn’t great.
The existing buff, though, will know all of these brands well. They’re owned by Diageo, a bit of a mega-corporation when it comes to imbibing and they have the distribution and marketing to match. You might want to consider one of the less obvious “brands”. My own tastes are for the smoother, less peaty whiskies (whisky is filtered through peat, by the way, which gives some of it the smoky taste so many people love). If you share that in common with me you might want to consider a bottle of Glengoyne, from the distillery near Glasgow and which is the only unpeated single malt in Scotland (or was last time I checked). On a friend’s suggestion I tried Bunnahabhain, which is more complex and has a richer flavour.
My favourite, though, has to be the awkward one – most of the whiskies I like are Scotch; I haven’t tasted so many Irish whiskeys (note if it has an ‘e’ it’s Irish or American but never Scottish), but I’m very keen on Buffalo Trace bourbon which makes a spicy alternative. The best, for me, though, has to be the Welsh single malt – Penderyn (available in bigger branches of Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets) is as unpeated as I want, tastes very clean and very smooth and the fact that it’s the only single malt from Wales makes a good talking point as well. There’s a peated version around too but I prefer the original. Anyone looking for a last-minute gift for me would be welcome to look for a bottle of Penderyn or Glengoyne…OK, OK, I’ll get me coat. Tomorrow: skincare and scents.
I have had a look at the DrinkAware campaign and support its aims fully – a well crafted whisky is a fine thing but also very dangerous if abused.