Christmas is a magnificent time from a whisky-lover’s point of view – there’s lots of sales on, lots of special festive editions out, and – with any luck – lots of our loved ones casting around to get us to drop hints about what we might like to find in Santa’s sack.
So at Bristol Whisky HQ I tasked the others with coming up with 3 “don’t miss” suggestions of bottles they’d recommend. Take it away lads!
Chris’s Christmas Picks
Paul John – Edited
Highly acclaimed Indian whiskymakers Paul John do a belter of a festive release most years, but it isn’t out yet, so I’m going with my favourite from their core range: made using Goan malted barley and “Edited” with peated barley from Scotland, this has a lovely soft smoke to it that complements the fruity, bourbon cask house style wonderfully. A lovely fireside sip.
~ £35 from The Whisky Exchange and other good retailers
Cotswolds Distillery – Founder’s Choice 2019 Release
I’m very excited and proud to have the Cotswolds Distillery as my most local English whisky producer, because very early on in their young history, they have a reputation for doing whisky exceptionally well. This robust expression is matured in shaved, toasted & re-charred wine barriques, and at over 60%abv, it just bursts with flavour.
~ £65 from The Whisky Exchange and other good retailers
Kavalan – Solist Sherry Cask
Just about the only whisky more than £100 that I have spent my own money on, this is an unbelievably decadent sherry cask drop distilled by the award-winning Taiwanese distillery, with a mouthfeel approximating thick treacle and an absolute abundance of the Christmas flavours a decent sherried dram should deliver. It was a wow the first time I tried it, and it still is now!
~ £130 from The Whisky Exchange and other good retailers
Jon’s festive threesome
Christmas Sucks! So why not have a wee dram to help dull the hell of Brussels sprouts, being appreciative for another pair of socks that can line the wardrobe and that inevitable visit from an absolute assclown that you just can’t bear any other time of the year. And to top it off we have a general election. So. Let’s be grateful for whisky!
Here’s my top three (in no particular order) for this season of festive shenanigans.
Glen Moray Port Cask Finish
This is a delightfully light and creamy whisky, perfect for an aperitif or a heavy handed pour after a Christmas shopping session amongst the scum of humanity. It’s fresh nature is beautifully complimented by the port finish which brings lots of red berry juice amongst the custardy vanillas. Plus it’s an absolute bargain.
~ £26.95 from The Whisky Exchange… I guess you’re getting the hang of this by now?
Glendronach 15yo Revival
Now a lot of tasters and reviews hate this tasting note, I don’t, it suited this whisky to a tee – “Christmas cake in a glass”. Full of fruit and spices and incredibly more-ish. This is without a doubt one of my favourite all time sherried whiskies. So so tasty. And completely Christmas.
~ £64 from The Whisky Exchange
Lagavulin Distillers edition
Another incredibly Christmassy whisky! This has lots of rich fruits and deep plum pudding notes. Plus that signature smokiness which can only be Lagavulin. Absolutely love it. It’s not cheap, but damn is it cheerful and it brings a smile to my chops every time!
~ £88 from The Whisky Exchange
Jason’s Santa Suggestions
So tricky to narrow it down to 3 choices when there’s so much wondrous whisky out there to choose from… but in this case I’ve elected to go for one that’s a delicious treat to share with your loved ones & fellow whisky chums, one that’s a tasty treat to savour, and one which (I think) always makes an amazing gift (even if you have to buy it for yourself!).
Melbourne distillery Starward boldly stepped into the market with this scrummy dram made from Australian barley and aged in Apera casks, which is sort of an Australian fortified wine not entirely unlike sherry. Starward have many close ties with the wine industry and when the lads were over at the Bristol Craft Beer Festival in the summer they showed us some of their new red wine cask spirits – but this one’s their original, and it’s a tasty belter.
For bonus marks you can sip it on Christmas Day and ponder what the temperature’s probably like in Melbourne. Bizarre that people still line up to a roast turkey dinner in 40 degree+ heat… explains why the turkey’s dry though!
~ £45 from Master of Malt
Redbreast 12yo Cask Strength
One of the benchmark single pot still Irish whiskies, Redbreast 12 is a light, fruity and elegant mainstay which has won hearts and minds the world over. In 2011 Irish Distillers Ltd set pulses racing around the whisk(e)y community by announcing a Cask Strength edition – limited in number and not always easy to get hold of, it’s an exemplar of this style of whiskey and shows the fruity beauty that can be teased out of sherry casks. At 55.8%abv it’s worth approaching gently with water to hand, but it’s a dram you can really get lost in.
~ £89 from The Whisky Exchange
A whisky that tastes like nothing else currently available – Signet is the marriage of aged elegant spirit from Glenmorangie’s famous Highland stills, with spirit distilled incorporating “chocolate malt” in the mash bill: a dark roasted form of barley, often used in brewing stouts and porters to give a roasty coffee/chocolatey note. When used in distillation and blending here it adds a dimension of richness and notes of espresso, leather, dark chocolate, golden syrup, toasted spices… AND it comes in a swanky looking box.
~ £125 from Majestic Wine (you weren’t expecting THAT, were you…)
And don’t miss out on our whisky tasting sessions – educational, fun, open to all, and a great way to learn about whisky while trying a selection of different ones.