Given just about everything else in the history of humanity gets a day of recognition, it’s only fair one of our finest creations, whisky, gets a go too.
This Saturday, May 21, is World Whisky Day, just in case you needed an excuse to pour a dram.
Here are 10 worth sharing with a friend, especially as the night wears on.
Three decades after it first appeared, Laphroaig resurrected its 15 year old 43% ABV single malt to mark its bicentenary in 2015. It starts out citrussy, with a touch of mint before heading into caramel and cigars and a little pepper before the trademark smoky peatiness lingers on a long, clean finish. It's a really lovely reminder of how classy one of the most robust single malts around can be. About $167.
We tried this cask strength Islay single malt at Grain bar at Sydney's Four Seasons hotel earlier this year. Mind blown. Port Ellen is a cult whisky aficionados chase like rocking horse poo. Port Ellen's currently on the 14th edition, so this is a bit of history and it doesn't come cheaply, although at 57.7%, there's bang with your bucks. Typically peaty and medicinal, yet sweet with citrus notes, a nip will set you back $380 at the bar. But then, it's also priceless.
Business Insider is a huge fan of this William Grant & Sons expression, which has all these lovely leather and cigar notes thanks to finishing in Caribbean rum casks. Add toffee notes, warm spices and lingering sweetness. It was a Whisky Of Choice for a recent significant birthday and we couldn't have been happier. About $230.
Tasmania is now a whisky hotspot, and Hellyers Road, from up near Burnie in Tassie's northwest, is getting plenty of recognition. The 2013 pinot noir finish was named best New World whiskey at Whisky Live Paris and the 10-year-old is Australia's biggest selling local single malt. It's matured in old bourbon casks and bottled at 46.2% ABV. Amid citrus notes, dried herbs and a double of golden syrup with the oaky vanilla, it's a really lovely, sweet local hero for about $90.
Here's something different - Ireland's only peated single malt, Connemara, by Kilbeggan, which lays claim to being the world's oldest distillery (1757), but certainly has the world's oldest working pot still. This iteration certainly holds its own against Islay's finest, with a lovely balance of sweetness and smokiness. About $95.
This isn't a new Tennessee whiskey, but the fun part of Single Barrel is that no two barrels are the same. We've tried one that's creamy and spicy, with dried fruit and ginger, dried citrus peel and banana, but we've also had lighter and heavier styles. The really fun part is buying a whole, single barrel - and getting to choose the style you want. That will set you back $A26,000, or you can get a single bottle for about $90.
This Speyside distillery in the grounds of Balvenie, just across the road from its family owner, William Grant & Sons, was released in 2015. Kininvie is dubbed the hidden distillery, best known for the triple malt Monkey Shoulder. The 23yo, aka Batch No.3, is just its third release and the first to land in Australia. It's mostly the 1991 vintage matured mostly in bourbon casks before a final six months in sherry casks and bottled at 42.6% ABV. Expect lovely orange and honey notes with oakiness, spice and dried fruit. $210 for 350ml.
Japanese whiskies are the new Scotland, and when just 246 bottles of this $450 a bottle drop from Suntory landed in Australia earlier this year, it was worthy of the hype, especially when paired with Will Studd's Billat-Savarin cheese. If you find a bottle, grab it, as much for the sweet-and-sour chocolate and nutty notes as bragging rights.
The third expression of this experimental mix from master blender Jim Beveridge has just been released and this year the theme is 'Fine Honeyed Notes', following on from 2014's smoky, and last year's ‘Rare Fruit Character’. The 8,888 individually numbered bottles have jumped in price this year to $997, but if you can resist opening it, the secondary market is already trading in multiples of triple figures. Yes, amid the grain whiskies and Highland single malts there are pretty, sweet honey notes, a touch of salted caramel, and some banana. It's the alluring young, blonde second wife you're never actually going to marry, and cheaper than divorcing the first one.
Hello curve ball! Taiwan makes single malt whiskies? Yep. We didn't know that either until Grain bar's manager Alexandra Dahlenburg opened our eyes. Go try it with her (especially on a Monday when she sells whiskies at a 20% discount), or check out somewhere like local specialist World of Whisky for this 46% Asian drop at about $190 a bottle. Expect dried fruit, nuttiness, treacle, vanilla and marzipan touches and the chance to mess with other people's heads in a blind tasting.
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