My inability to break down alcohol lead to an interesting discovery; a good clean spirit does not make me ill as quickly as a beer or a wine. I could enjoy one or two with no adverse side effects beyond wallet damage. So began a thorough exploration of the world of whisk(e)y.
The Irish began distilling whiskey around 1400, the Scots started making whisky less than a century later, and it has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity globally over the last decade or so.
In no particular order here are my five favourites:
This is what happens when you let the master distillers deviate from the script and create something truly original. It’s rich, flavourful, slightly sweet and unlike any other whisky. It is also hilariously overpackaged, complete with a box lid that doubles as a display stand for the bottle and a booklet with more wankwords than you could possibly imagine.
Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey
This, for my money, is as close as a one size fits all whiskey as there is. A little sweet like most Irish whiskies I’ve enjoyed, very smooth like a good single malt scotch, with a gentle but solid peaty kick. An ice block or a little water opens it up beautifully.
Hibiki 17 Years
You need to forget what you think you know about whisk(e)y to enjoy this. Forget that the good stuff supposedly only comes from the British Isles. Forget that blends are supposedly inferior. Suntory has been making whisky for 90 years, and the Lost in Translation fantasy is free with every purchase. This meticulously crafted combination of 20 or so different whiskies is extraordinary. Each sip delivers a new taste. Even the New York Times says so.
Nant Sherry Oak aged single malt
My pick of the rapidly maturing Australian whisky market, The Nant distillery is located in Bothwell in the Tasmanian Central Highlands. Volumes are still low, so barrels are smaller (100L), meaning the ageing process is expedited (4 years). The bottle is only 500ml too, unfortunately. The distillery estate has accommodation where you can enjoy fly fishing and clay target shooting alongside your whisky sampling. What could possibly go wrong?
Perhaps the ultimate expression of the full face peat punch that islay whiskies deliver. We’re running out of winter nights to perfectly accompany the “still smouldering burned down chesterfield lounge factory” flavour of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and co, so enjoy one while you can. This is not a breakfast scotch.