The latest installment of our Christmas gift guide takes a look at one of the world’s most popular spirits. Some may spell it whiskey, some may spell it whisky. All we know is, find the right one to go with your favourite stogie and you’re in for a hell of a treat.
Ladies, you’re husband/boyfriend/significant other has a hard year all year long. He mows the lawn, does a spot of DIY (sometimes terribly, more often if that’s us), cleans the gutters, and although not in his gentlemanly nature shows compassion when you want to rant about something that happend at work that he just doesn’t seem to understand. Christmas is one of the special moments you get to show him you appreciate it all. And these fine whiskies are a great way to do so.
1 – Bowmore Maltmen’s Selection – Expect to pay around: £250.00
If the person you’re buying whiskey is anything like us here at Cut The Cap, they’ll appreciate Islay Single Malt whiskies. Dry and peaty in general characteristics, the Bowmore Maltmen’s selection takes it a step further with a spicy, smokey palate and hints of honey and syrup. But what perhaps makes this an even better choice than most other whiskies is that it’s selected from specific casks by the maltmen of Bowmore Distillery. If there was ever a group of fine gents to know whiskey, its the chaps who make it. And it seems their on to a winner, having picked up this years World Whiskey Awards “Best Islay Single Malt” .
2 – Glenglassaugh 45 Years Old 1966 Rare Cask Series – Expect to pay around: £1600
One for the collector, the Glenglassaugh 45 Years Old Rare Cask Series was bottled at a hugely limited quantity. Only 202 bottles produced, there simply is not enough bottles to go around so if you’re planning on grabbing one, do so very quickly! Not only is the Glenglassaugh 45 Year extremely rare, it’s also extremely pleasing to drink. The Whiskey Exchange voted this (tied) “Best Expensive Whisky” this year. and it’s easy to see why. To quote TWE, “the Glenglassaugh positively flaunted her great age. Sumptuous polished oak and rich fruit from a sherry cask of mind-boggling quality, this was one of the stand-out hits at last year’s TWE Whisky Show“.
3 – Ardbeg 1995 Single Cask 2761 Feis de Ile 2010 – Expect to pay around: £600
Bottled especially for the 2010 Feis de Ile (Islay Festival), this particularly Ardbeg was aged in a second-fill bourbon cask (Cask 2761 for those of you familiar with the Ardbeg distillery) and having been produced in a limited quantity of just 228 bottles 2 years ago, we don’t suppose you’ll be seeing these around for much longer. A real collectors item. A real gem on the palate with a smokey spice, chillies, lime and cnady floss flavour, we love the depth in the flavour profile.
Here’s where the most of us will be looking as we haven’t hit that Euromillions Jackpot yet. Some fantastic bottles to be had at excellent prices, filled with millionaire style flavours:
1 – Balblair 1999 Vintage – Around £60
Something for those who want a little bit extra this Christmas, why not treat a loved one (Or yourself) to Balblair 1999 Vintage. A whisky matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks, but with the addition of Spanish oak ex-sherry butts. Offering a medley of spicy and sweet aromas, punctuated with notes of raisins, toffee and honey its the perfect dram to sip on Christmas day. IF you are after something extra special from the Balblair family why not try the Balblair 1990 (£84.99) and for those very special moments, crack open a dram of Balblair 1983 (£200)
You can grab a bottle of Balblair 1999 Vintage at specialist retailers such as Whisky Exchange
2 – Ardbeg Alligator – Expect to pay around: £100
Our personal favourite, invite us for a dram and we’ll be round with a couple of Cohiba 1966’s before you can put the phone down. Ardbeg is one of those distillery’s we just can’t help feeling a certain affinity for being one of those ’boutique-y whiskey company’s’ as our friends at Master of Malt like to put it. What’s more, it seems we’re not the only ones who love the Ardbeg Alligator. Having enjoyed success winning over the hearts of many Islay Malt drinkers, it won Best Whiskey 2012 at the Drammies. An accomplishment we simply must tip our hats to. A lovely citrus and smokey palate finishing off with a sweet, peppery peat.
3 – Eagle Rare 17 Year Old – Expect to pay around: £90
We were first introduced to the Buffalo Trace brand at the Buffalo Bourbon Empire pop-up bar. Not only did we make some new friends, and discover a bourbon we love, we also discovered a brand that knows how to party. But aside from the good times, Eagle Rare 17 Year Old is a great bourbon by Buffalo Trace and has even managed to pick up Best North American Whiskey at the World Whiskey Awards 2012. The Eagle Rare 17 Year Old is a great bourbon to pair with a fine cigar due to its cigar spice and pepper palate. It’s also a nice thick bourbon which we’d highly recommend after dinner.
4 – Yamazaki 18 Year Old – Expect to pay around: £100
Everybody knows whiskey as a Scottish drink. They make some cracking malts. The Yanks have also distilled a few great barrels. But our friends over the other side of the world have in recent years shown us they also know a thing or two about great whiskey. The Yamazaki 18 Year Old is a great example winning numerous awards (don’t believe us? Google it! Go ahead, we dare ya!). But we all know awards aren’t everything. So read reviews and you’ll find the Yamazaki brand being right there at the top with the rest of the Scots and Yanks. The 18 Year is a fruity number to the nose with green, woody, earthy notes on the palate.
The bottles that most of us will break out on a regular occasion, here’s some of the less-expensive whiskeys that skimp on price but definitely not on quality;
1 – Johnnie Walker Black Label – Expect to pay around: £20
One of our favourite bottles, thanks to its great quality at a low price, the Black Label is the blended scotch of choice for most with a well rounded taste on the palate and a silky finish.
2 – Lagavulin 16 Year Old – Expect to pay around: £45
Simply the best Islay malt on a budget, the Lagavulin 16 Year Old competes with some of the more expensive bottles with smokey peaty goodness we’ve come to know and love from Islay malts.
3 – Buffalo Trace – expect to pay around: £30
One of the finest bourbons we’ve had the pleasure of trying. A smooth and sweet bourbon that goes just as well in cocktails as it does on its own.