Founder of New York’s Flatiron Room and Fine & Rare Tommy Tardie argues that a single malt must be manufactured in Scotland to be termed scotch. Malted barley is used to manufacture Scotch whisky, however the mash bill for blended scotches could comprise a range of cereals. There is much more to come, though. Restless distillers are experimenting with everything from smoke bombs to oloroso spirits in the scotch market.
“There has been a blurring of borders” when it comes to taste attributes, says Pedro Shanahan, spirits consultant for Los Angeles bar group Pouring with Heart. We offer the GlenDronach Revival, a single malt whiskey that changes flavour as you drink it, as a superb example of a scotch that exposes itself as you drink it. For your convenience, we’ve put together this list of the top Scotch whisky.
Tardie feels that the scotch’s great complexity is the explanation for the whisky’s supposedly everlasting aftertaste. Cedar, chocolate-covered cherries, hazelnuts, and honey are all strong tastes in this combination of whiskey. Tardie describes the fragrance of this wine, which was matured in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry barrels, “outstanding.” Try it with ice cubes, old cheeses, or milk chocolate and see what happens.
In 1898, Aberfeldy Distillery initially opened its doors to the public, nestled in the heart of the Central Highlands. The distillery is known for its crisp, clear scotch due of its position next to the fast-moving Pitilie Burn.
Cherry cola aromas and mouth-coating semi sweetness that culminates in bitterwoody tannins make this a fantastic whiskey to consume on a daily basis. It’s light enough for a post-work drink, but still superb enough for a midday sip, due to its 40 percent alcohol concentration.
Bowmore Darkest 15-Year-Old
Bowmore, Islay’s oldest distillery, employs island-grown barley that has been severely peated to make its cherrywood-coloured whiskey. For the later three years of its life, it is matured in oloroso barrels to give it a sherry-like character.
The Glenfarclas distillery’s sixth generation produces “quite inexpensive, very balanced Scotch,” according to owner Shanahan. The spring that gives the Speyside heather-covered hills of Glenfarclas its name, which translates to “the valley of green grass,” gave the region its name. Their 25-year-old Scotch whiskey boasts a citrus and chocolaty flavour from the spring water used to create it.
The nuttiness and sherry-like taste that develops from maturing in oloroso barrels makes this spirit suitable for sipping neat. “At less than $10 a year, you can’t beat it,” says Shanahan.
Lagavulin Distillers Edition
Tarry rope, iodine, seaweed and peat are all fantastic additions “Lagavulin’s Distillers Edition, a Scotch whiskey manufactured on the island of Islay, is evocative of this “Brine and phenolic soil.” As Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch develops in Pedro Ximénez casks, “you start to see this beautiful, fresh balance established in the arching subtlety of sherry,” says master distiller Shanahan. You’ll be blown away by the fruitiness as soon as you take a taste. It’s a test of your taste senses, you know “he says. “It’s one of my favourite.”
New cask-strength whiskies are flooding the market, improving the toughness of ordinary tipples. Islay distillery Laphroaig has developed this ten-year-old Scottish single malt whiskey, which has a strength of around 112 as it was not diluted (may vary with each bottle) (may vary with each bottle). This whiskey is aged in antique bourbon barrels before being barrier-filtered and bottled straight from the cask. It has a touch more island brine and a little more fire than the lighter 10-year. There is little doubt that Shanahan is delighted.
Ardbeg An Oa
After a ten-year sabbatical, Ardbeg is back with a 2017 release named after the rocky peninsula on the Kilodalton coast where the distillery is located. As a Single malt Irish whiskey stored in old sherry barrels, this Islay whisky is as accessible as Islay can be.
“Wonderful wine-cask,” according to Shanahan, is “taming a super-peaty whiskey.” But despite the lack of age, it’s still a fantastic work of art. One of the greatest ways to get a taste of the island’s distinct cuisine.