Best whiskies for this year's celebration day. A day of global whisky celebration World Whisky Day invites everyone on the 16th May 2020 to raise a dram and celebrate the water of life. Things may be a little different this year but that's all the more reason to mark the occasion and raise a glass to all we still have to be thankful for.We have created a guide to everything from sweet American bourbon to rich earthy Scotch.
In these dark and uncertain times, with the world on lockdown, a little of what George Bernard Shaw nicknamed “liquid sunshine” may be just what the doctor ordered. And, with this Saturday marking World Whisky Day, what better excuse to crack open a bottle of your favourite scotch or bourbon? We have rounded up some of our favourites for you to try in the comfort of your own home in celebration of Uisge Beatha or the “water of life”.
We aren’t judgemental here, so all of the below can be enjoyed straight, with ice, a dash of water or a mixer...basically however you want. Where one of those is best, we have let you know.
World Whisky Blend
A blend of whiskies from around the globe that, according to its producer, “celebrates a truly global flavour and the way the world really drinks whisky”.
World Whisky Blend combines samples from 14 different countries - including Scotland and the US - to produce a light, fresh drink with a spicy palette and hints of brown sugar. This whisky is a good one for new drinkers to try straight or with a single ice cube, in part due to its light flavour. However, 50ml mixed with around 150ml of either soda or tonic water also makes for a mean highball that would please even more seasoned drinkers.
GlenAllachie 12yo Madeira Wood Finish
A personal favourite, as well as something pretty special that won’t break the bank. A wonderful copper-bronze single malt that matured in American oak Casks for over ten years. Then the Casks were selected to exMadeira barriques - in which Malvasia Madeira wine was previously stored. The Malvasia wines are known for their spicy, floral and nutmeg-like aromas - an ideal basis for an aromatic whisky finish. The result is a unique variant of the classic GlenAllachie style with the perfect balance between sweet and spicy. We love a wee dram from Glenallachie!
Starward has quickly established itself as one of Australia's leading whisky distillers, aided by a series of exceptional limited edition releases, which have ranked highly in international competitions.
Their Wine Cask whisky, which was finished in Australian red wine casks, was awarded best Australian single malt at the 2017 World Whiskies Awards, while Solera - a twice-distilled single malt whisky - won a gold medal last year in the same competition.
This year's limited edition is the Starward Tawny, so named because it is fully matured in Tawny fortified wine barrels. The flavour, as you would expect, has taken on plenty of fruit from the Port casks, including dried apricots and figs, as well as spice and nuts. The result: a spectacular dram, perfect for after-dinner sipping.
Balcones Distilling Texas Single Malt
A single malt from the heart of the American whisky trail, Balcones is a real treat.
Warm and woody, this is a heavier whisky than the World Whisky Blend, more suited to a regular whisky drinker or perhaps a newcomer that is a fan of tannin-heavy red wines.
Undertones of honey and vanilla make for a smooth experience, which we would wholeheartedly recommend trying straight or wish a tiny dash of water rather than opting for a more elaborate mixer.
Peatreekers Double Standard
The Double Standard is a multiple award-winning Islay blended malt whisky inspired by the defiance, bravery, and cunning of Scotland’s forgotten illicit distillers. So called because the smell of peat clung permanently to their clothes, the “peatreekers” were the brave rogues and renegades who defied Royal decree in 18th century Scotland to produce illegal whisky.
When caught smuggling whisky, the peatreekers had a choice to make: donate a few bottles to the corrupt excisemen and keep the majority of their contraband, or lose it all. This whisky is a tribute to those officials who chose to operate the Double Standard.
According to the Tasting Notes... Colour: Antique BrassNoseFresh wood shavings, honeysuckle and dried apricots with dusty leather bound books. Salty peat smoke lingers in the background with hints of tarmac and spices. Palate: Boiled sweets mingle with peat fires and vanilla pods. Then digestive biscuits and milk chocolate. Spicy, smoky and warming with a creamy mouth-feel. Finish: Long with wisps of sweet smoke. Tasting notes supplied by Blair Bowman, founder of World Whisky Day.
From the same maker as the World Whisky Blend, The Boutique-y Whisky Company’s 10-year-old Säntis is the first batch of Swiss single malt from the Säntis distillery in Appenzell.
The distillery sits on top of a Swiss ski slope and has produced a fine whisky artfully combining a nose of toasted brown sugar and sticky treacle with an earthy, but sweet, palette. We tried this one straight and had no complaints, but found it came to life when combined with a little maple syrup and some bitters for a perfect Smoked and Salted.
At more than £100 a bottle, it is at the pricier end of our recommendations, but this delightful Swisskey is well worth the price tag. It also features the best label we have seen for a while, on which Santis distillery owner, Karl Locher, appears dressed as Bond villain Blofeld and screaming: “Let your hangovers be particularly unpleasant and humiliating!” With your help Locher, we will do our best.
Teeling Reisling Cask Finish
A bottling that forms part of a raft of new releases from Teeling. This whiskey was made in collaboration with Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl, the largest winery in the German Palatinate wine region. This Irish whiskey has been finished in Riesling casks, which have imparted a delightful fruitiness to the dram.Teeling Riesling Cask serves up delicious notes of tinned peaches, apples, white grapes, wine, ginger, star anise, and cereal sweetness. Bottled at 46% ABV and without chill filtration, this is a luscious, yet approachable whiskey. This whiskey was limited to 3,000 bottles worldwide.
Arran 21yo Single Malt
This one is an expression the distillery have been proud to introduce as a permanent part of their core range. This is one of the oldest expressions of Arran Single Malt to date. This long awaited whisky is truly the jewel in Arran Single Malt's crown and is 100% matured in a mix of some of the oldest Sherry Butts from the distillery. This precious liquid is presented in a beautiful gift box with the finest attention to detail which ensures a real treat for the owner of this special whisky, each time to pick it up to enjoy a dram.
"This whisky is truly stunning. The nose immediately reveals delicious sweet Sherry notes whilst the palate has elegance and finesse. The first sip remains true to the character of Arran - fresh fruit and sweet spice in abundance. I am proud of this Single Malt as it joins our core range as one of our oldest expressions to date." - James MacTaggart, Director of Production and Operations.
1970 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Now for something a little bit special. The year this Glenrothes single malt was distilled, the Beatles broke up, the Boeing 747 made its first commercial flight to London and Apollo 13 launched on its ill-fated journey into space.
That year is 1970, the release of this whisky completing a trilogy of Glenrothes Single Malts. The first, from 1968, was released in 2018, and the second from 1969 in 2019. Silky smooth and seriously spicy, this whisky is not one for beginners, but is a real treat for those with the money to procure a bottle. With a thick vanilla finish and smoky palette, the Glenrothes is real whisky royalty. We can only imagine it would go well with a mixer, but couldn’t bring ourselves to dilute this one. No ice or water was involved in the tasting of this show-stopping tipple.
Happy World Whisky Day & Slàinte