Three whiskies for £120: the next step in building your whisky collection
In part one of this series we asked our panel to choose four whiskies for £100 to start off a beginners cabinet. So assuming you've followed the panels advice and liked what you've tasted, where do you go next?
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This time round the panel has £120 to spend on three bottles. Do you agree with their choice?
Neil & Joel: Cask Strength
Neil & Joel of www.caskstrength.net met while working as A&R guys for two different major record labels. Mortal enemies at the time, they were brought together by a love of whisky and the fact that they happened to live near each other in South London. Now running the blog, writing for various publications and involving themselves in creative marketing for drinks brands (whatever the hell that means), in their spare time they debate various things such as “who would win in a flight, Christopher Reeve (if still alive) or Stephen Hawking” or “If noise left physical detritus, would people be employed to sweep it out of clubs into special bins on a Sunday morning?”. Their current fav whisky is Ardmore Traditional Cask. Cheap and smooth. Much like Joel’s suits...
Lagavulin 16 YO - £39
If Islay were to enter the "Whisky Olympics" it would certainly win the 100 meter relay, with four of the best entry-level single malts in Scotland. The final leg, the glory run, would be made by this whisky.
Consistently held in high regard by whisky experts across the globe, the Lagavulin 16 consistently features as our top Single Malt for a sub forty quid. And the best bit: it'll take you right back to the island the moment you stick your nose in the glass.
Subtle and rich, this whisky is the polar opposite of either of us.
Suntory Hibiki 12 - £34
This Japanese blend is the definition of delicious. Blended using whisky part matured in plum wine casks, the aroma is pure plum crumble and the palate adds a whack of vanilla ice cream on top.
A weighty, old school bottle with 24 sides (a dram for each hour in the day?) this will add a real "Mad Men" style to your day, as your pour yourself a hard earned drink at the end of the day.
The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Years Old - £44
Single Cask whiskies are the diamonds of the business. Dug out from a dank warehouse usually by a warehouseman who has been at the distillery his whole life, they represent only the best that a distillery has to offer.
To find a consistent release of a single cask whisky from a distillery with the quality of Balvenie, this release only goes to strengthen their boutique aura, despite being the sister distillery to the world famous and monster selling Glenfiddich. It is very much the Dannii to ‘fiddich’s Kylie.
Changeable from batch to batch but always with David Stewart’s seal of approval, this does what no other Balvenie does: hits you with a decent alcohol strength, currently 47.8% and all the better it is too. Wow your friends with the wealth of information on the front label including an individual bottle number and marvel at the sheer quality derived from just one cask of whisky. One word: winner.
Eddie Ludlow: The Whisky Lounge
Eddie is founder of Whisky Events company, The Whisky Lounge. As Whisky 'Evangelist', Eddie sees his role to turn those onto whisky who would otherwise be lost souls, whilst providing a regular 'home' for those already converted - all over the UK. His events and happenings can be found at www.thewhiskylounge.com and he is also to be found on Twitter and Facebook under the Whisky Lounge banner.
Glenlivet 15 Year Old Limousin Oak - £31
As noted by one of the comments after the last raft, Glenlivet is a great starting point for anyone. The 12 Year Old is good stuff, and one of the finest entry-level whiskies around, but this 15 is where things get really interesting. If you like them sweet and rounded then look no further! Creamy Toffee and vanilla aromas dominate and the palate is reminiscent of clotted cream and tropical fruit. Yum!
Hazelburn 12 Years Old - £46
I’ve been trying a lot from Springbank lately but of all the whiskies I have sampled from this Campbeltown icon, this is the one that impressed me most. Triple-distilled and unpeated, I was concerned that the lightness of the spirit wouldn’t stand up to the sherry casks this has matured in. I needn’t have worried as this is one of the best balanced and poised ‘sherried’ single malts I have come across. A slight hint of burnt caramel a la crème brulee, chewy raisins and toasty almonds. A fantastic long, dry but full finish caps things off.
Ardbeg Uigeadail - £48
Some fellow whisky-nuts might roll their eyes at the mention of Ardbeg, given the amount of attention this once unheard of distillery from the Isle of Islay now generates. The fact is that up until recently Ardbeg would have made most lists if not for this ‘reverse snobbery’ – another victim of its own success and recent excess. But whilst the distillery (and Bill Lumsden) still produce whiskies like this, they would have to go some to stop me drinking it! This Uigeadail bottling has few, if any, peers at this price point – just be aware of the high alcohol level. It is like drinking a huge, sticky, peated Xmas Pudding. With nobs on.
Nicola Young: The WhiskyBoys
The WhiskyBoys run one of the friendliest whisky sites in the blogosphere - there are three of them but only two are actually boys which isn't as confusing as it sounds. The odd one out, Nicola Young joins us for the panel this issue. Check out their site over at www.whiskyboys.com
Bruichladdich Organic 2003: Anns An T-Seanne Doigh - £38
This fine dram is the first organic whisky to be produced by the Bruichladdich Distillery.
On the nose you will find ample orchard fruits, especially apples. The taste is smooth and amazing for a 6 year old Bruichladdich. Jim McEwan does it again, orchard fruits galore – a very special dram. A delightfully long and warming finish. A classic dram from a classic distillery.
Cardhu 12 Year Old - £30
This malt which is presented in a grand decanter with beechwood stopper, which would make an ideal water jug once you have enjoyed this fine dram.
On the nose it’s clean and delicate with soft ripe pears and a touch of wood. Tasting this dram you will get a malty dryness with a smooth honey spice. A medium finish still giving sweet honey with a little oak and almond at the end.
Dalmore 15 Year Old - £42
This dram would be an ideal after dinner malt and will require only a teardrop of water.
On the nose you will find a sweet sherry and toffee note but on the taste you will experience more sherry, vanilla and ample Christmas spices. A medium to long finish, saying goodbye with vanilla.