Referring to ‘age’ when talking whisky is so old-school. With a world-shortage in whisky and an increasing appreciation that whisky is ready when the master distiller says it’s ready and not when the marketing department decides, no-age statement whiskies are gaining massively credibility and popularity amongst whisky fans. We’ve compiled our favourite reasonably priced drams to warm the cockles during the chilly season.
The Glenrothes ‘Select Reserve’ Malt Whisky
Amongst malt whisky distillers, The Glenrothes stands out for several reasons – from the shape of its bottle (complete with a hand-written signature from the master distiller), a longer-than-usual distillation process and the fact that they have long-championed bottling not by age, but by ‘vintage’. The Select Reserve may be their entry level whisky but the marriage of mature vintage Glenrothes from different years ensures it’s an absolute corker. With a medium body and flavour characteristics including ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and hints of spice it’s ideal as a post-prandial digestif. Widely available for around £35. www.theglenrothes.com
Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve
If you’re going against the grain and opting for a blended whisky to see you through the festive season, then Ballantine’s 2013 incarnation of its ever popular Christmas Reserve is well worth a look. The malts and grains have been specifically selected for their sweet, fruity flavours, creating a unique blend with seven distinct tasting notes – ginger, moist raisin fruitcake, ripe pears, sweet candy apples, caramel toffee, tangy orange and liquorish root. The result is a soft, sweet and fruity blend that’s perfectly suited to serving alongside your Christmas pud or a punchy cheese or you can also be adventurous and use it for a mulled-style cocktail. £30 from good spirits retailers
With intimidating images of powerful waves crashing down all over the packaging and the moniker ‘Storm’, one look at this recent addition to the Talisker whisky range tells you it means business. The distillery calls the Isle of Skye home and it’s the maritime history and tempestuous seas that have inspired Talisker Storm. Famous for their peaty whiskies, Talisker Storm provides the epitome of this style of whisky. More intense and smoky than their previous bottlings, with enhanced and vibrant maritime notes, Storm is smoothly balanced by Talisker’s signature hot sweetness. Serve it alongside smoked salmon or sea-salted chocolate for a stunning food pairing. £39.50 Waitrose and Tesco. www.malts.com
Jefferson’s Small Batch Bourbon
Aromatic and potent classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned and Sazerac are perfect for the chillier months, which means you’re going to need a quality bourbon in your collection. Head down to Aldi where you’ll find that they have pulled off a bit of coup by stocking this rather special tipple this Christmas. This very small batch, handcrafted bourbon is a blend of whiskies that have been aged for 6-10 years in the heart of metal clad warehouses to accentuate the extreme temperatures that Kentucky is blessed with. This results in the bourbon being forced to expand deep into the barrel and draw out the flavours from the wood, including notes of vanilla, caramel and dried fruits. Super-smooth and particularly delicate for a bourbon, this is one you’ll love sipping by a warm fire too. £29.99 from www.aldi.co.uk