For all the thrill there is to be had in finding new drams and boldly going where you haven’t been before, there a few whiskies which are real old friends. Wherever you meet them, you’re happy to see them.
This isn’t just a cracking dram, it’s a design classic. It’s the contrarian Ileach’s dram of choice. Whilst the other Islay malts jostle to be the smokiest and the most modern, Bunnahabhain remains steadfastly old fashioned. Rather than chafing under the yoke of being an old mans drink, it revels in it. Better still, it offers a distinctive and pleasing flavour profile. Ginger, rich fruit and teeniest teasing hint of smoke. The 12 is excellent, the 18 is sublime.
Even though many whisky fans have their problems with Diageo, it’s hard to dispute the quality of many of their distilleries. Talisker is a case in point. Part of the “Classic Malts” range for some years now, it remains a favourite for many. What makes it so popular? Talisker’s winning hand has to be its balance. There are smokier whiskies available. Equally, there are lots of whiskies which are sweeter, smoother and more fully flavoured on offer. But few of them combine all of these elements with a pleasing balance – not too little, not too much.
3. Highland Park
Balance is also the key to Highland Park’s popularity. The Orcadian distillery is another good all rounder with its flavours. Better still, it offers and unrivalled degree of consistency. Certainly, when faced with a random selection of unfamiliar independent bottlings, I know if I pick the Highland Park, it’s likely to taste good. This impressive consistency extends to all the official distillery bottlings too.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had the Glenfiddich conversation. It shouldn’t surprise us that the world’s number one selling whisky is actually quite good, but it remains comment-worthy. Independently owned Glenfiddich rarely wins the pundits prizes, but taste a newly opened bottle and you’re likely to admit it’s not too bad. Certainly it’s a little too sweet for some palates, but on careful reflection it’s as good as or better than many Speysides.
That’s my four, any thoughts on yours?