The holidays are a time for bonding with family, and what better way to do that than over a nice dram? And while bonding may be all well and good, it’s also quite nice to impress your family with your stellar whiskey-selecting skills. So to help you along a bit, check out our list of whiskeys you should definitely have in your home bar when the family comes round this festive period.
This expression was created to bring together two often-opposing flavor profiles. It has the rich complexity of scotch with the homely and warming sweetness of a Kentucky bourbon. The bourbon casks have been sourced straight from Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Ky.
The nose has a great fruity quality to it. It’s filled with flavors ranging from orchard apples to oranges, with a lot of caramel and vanilla in between. The flavors come together perfectly on the palate, with rich vanilla and deep oaky flavors coming through at the start. These develop further into cinnamon and spice with more red apples and green pears. The finish is deliciously sweet, with a final tang of caramel to round it all off.
Released in 2012, this is a fantastic malt that really brings something to the Glengoyne range. It begins with a nose of cinnamon and oak wood. There’s a distinct orchard feel to these flavors, with the oak becoming slightly more honeyed. The palate continues in this vein, with lots of vanilla and honey coming through alongside ripe red apples. There’s also a wonderful dose of fruit, such as apricots and raisins, all covered in a dusting of cinnamon. The finish ends with one last nod toward caramel-covered apples and rich oak wood.
3. Royal Brackla 16-Year Single-Malt Scotch ($140)
This is a great addition to the Royal Brackla range. It begins with a nose that’s rich and sweet, with crisp apples and bananas joined by thick custard and cream. The cream creates a dull but engaging background for the fruit to bounce off. On the palate, there ‘s lots of caramel and amaretto, with more apples and a dash of pear. The caramel is rich and complex, with a slightly warming hint and a nice oaky note to it. The finish is filled with more warmth, with an apple pie quality to it. It’s long and brings together all of the flavors perfectly.
With a name that comes from Old Norse for “glittering bright skies,” Skiren is an homage to the Nordic history of its Orkney home. And what an homage it is. The nose is filled with fresh cooking apples to give it a nice bite and some spun sugar to add a delicate hint of sweetness. The tang of the fruits combines well with the saccharine flavors of the sugar.
The palate is firmly rooted in an orchard setting, with lots of oak wood and more apples. These have a dewy freshness to them. Again, the sugar is there, this time in the guise of caramel and vanilla. These work well with the oak wood and give it complexity and depth. The finish does not linger for long but is filled with more wooded notes and a dash of white sugar for good measure.
The legend behind the name for this dram is perhaps more suited to Halloween than Christmas. It’s derived from the story of a ghostly dog that would haunt the village. And this year, Tomatin distillery decided to name its peated release after it. This is a tradition at Tomatin—to create peated malt for only one week a year. This malt has been matured in virgin oak, sherry and bourbon casks, with a ppm level of 115. The nose opens with a more floral and fresh nose than one would expect from a dram called after a ghostly dog. But that’s exactly what we get here. It’s light and complex, with lots of citrus tang and bite from various orchard fruits in it.
The palate brings in that familiar peated smoke flavor, with a toasted oak quality to it. The fruits go hand in hand with the oak and yield a refreshing mouthfeel. There are also sweet nuts such as hazelnuts and pecans, with a softly caramelized note to them. The smoke winds down into the finish, with one last hearty kick before disappearing and leaving a lasting impression of warming happiness.