There’s nothing quite so neat as whisky. And, here at Gentleman’s Journal, we get to try more than our fair share of the spirited stuff. We can be frequently found heading up to the Highlands. Our cocktail-creating skills are second-to-none. And we’ve kitted out our home bars with plenty of glassware and accoutrements to maximise our enjoyment of every expression.
But, as for the bottles themselves, we often disagree. Some of our number prefer uncorking a Campbeltown special; oily and brimming with brine. Others reach for Islay whiskies — fiery and heavily peated. Below, we asked the team for their favourites. And, from a limited-edition single malt to a handsomely bottled blend, here’s what they said…
The GlenDronach 15-Year-Old ‘Revival’
Chosen by Dan Scothern, Commercial Manager
I’m extremely fortunate that, in my line of work, top quality drams are never in short supply. So I’m spoilt for choice when asked to name a favourite. That being said, I recently spent a day at The GlenDronach distillery in Aberdeenshire, and had the immense pleasure of touring the grounds, and sampling the core range with the exceptionally friendly, enviously knowledgeable Stewart Buchanan.
And, though every bottle in the whole range was noteworthy, I developed a particularly pleasant relationship with The GlenDronach ‘Revival’, a 15-year-old expression. Fruity and rich, it sits very well on the palate, and also hides a hint of dark chocolate in its depths. Cap that with the slightly sweet note of Manuka honey, and you’ve got a delectable finish to a remarkable whisky.
Glenmorangie ‘A Tale of Cake’
Chosen by Josh Lee, Senior Writer
I can’t really tell if I like alcohol or not. The suave gravy of Guinness is a thing of beauty, the high-tang slap of yuzu sake actually tastes pretty nice, and I like the rhythm of slowly drinking plum wine in a Japanese bar – slurp, chew, slurp, slurp, chew, slurp. And then there’s whisky – I’m not sure what’s more appealing, its status as a highbrow pleasure, or the way it can put hair on your chest and flames in the belly.
I’m not so much into the oaky, mature thing, but Glenmorangie’s ‘A Tale of Cake’ is something I can get onboard with, a shotgun wedding of honey, white chocolate and the distillery’s usual arsenal of sweet notes. It’s a demented thing, like blending Beaujolais with a mille-feuille. But I like the sweet-sickly, messed up conflict. And that, sometimes, is plenty.
Chivas Regal 18-Year-Old
Chosen by Sam Fletcher, Social Media Manager
There are many scotch whiskies to choose from — and even more whiskies than that. But my favourite spirit to pour out of Scotland has to be Chivas Regal’s 18YO. It might not be some obscure single malt, or a big ticket bottling, but it’s got everything I want from a whisky; a distinguished flavour and an incredible versatility.
It also carries a certain marmalade sweetness, which — as both a mobile bar owner, and a lover of cocktails in general — appeals to me, and means it makes a brilliant scotch-based spin on an Old Fashioned. Equally, it works on the rocks, thanks to those warming notes of dark chocolate, and this reminds me of visiting relatives in Glasgow — dram in hand in front of a smoky, open fire.
Chosen by Joseph Bullmore, Editor
I don’t know if Laphroaig is my favourite whisky, and I’m always slightly wary of people who say it’s theirs — they tend, in my experience, to also brag about adoring chilli sauces with names like ‘Tongue Napalm’ and stand too close to you at parties. But it’s certainly full of fond memories, which might well be what good whisky is about.
When I was 18 and working at a quiet branch of Oddbins in Oxford, my colleague John, in his mid-50s and a walking encyclopedia of wine and spirits, would sometimes permit us to bring out ‘The Box’. This was an old wooden crate full of sample bottles of various whiskies and gins which he would let us uncork in the colder, calmer depths of winter, when we might average three customers an evening.
In my first week there, John took out a bottle of Laphroaig 10 and talked me and the other assistant through its peculiar, powerful delights. It was the first time I really ‘got’ a single malt, and the whole experience possibly set me on a path to become the most pretentious teenager in North Oxford. But if I smell it now, ultra-peaty and smokily medicinal, Laphroaig takes me back to my first proper job — with its stretches of boredom, its pungent wooden floors, and its heady sense of Gap Year freedom — and makes me feel happy and sad at once.
Chosen by Danaé Valterio, Managing Designer
This is a tough one. Because, while the 18-year-old from Bunnahabhain’s core range is almost certainly a better, more palatable whisky, it also sees a significant jump in price. So I’d have to choose the 12-year-old expression, an updated version of the original 12-year-old that was released in 2010 with a beefed-up ABV (from 40% to 46.3%).
Overall, it’s a well-balanced whisky. You get a bit of sweet honey and fruit on the palate, with a hint of brine, a touch of wood and a sprinkling of spice. That’s also now the whisky’s natural colour, which makes it visually more interesting. And, as a designer, I obviously noticed that it’s sporting a new label — one that looks much more handsome on a drinks shelf.
The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old
Chosen by Dominik Vagner, Partnerships Executive
This is a whisky that reminds me of home, and family. Up in the Czech highlands, returning after a long day skiing, we’d all sit around the fireplace as the evening rolled around. We’d open a bottle of whisky, and have the best conversations and tell the best jokes (all followed by a mild hangover the morning after, of course).
And this was the whisky. From The Macallan, it’s a mature scotch — with a colour that richly resembles the sap of a maple tree. It starts with spicy, fruity notes on the nose, but then sweet raisin flavours and a hint of vanilla usher in a more rounded feel. Then it ends on a long, warm ginger finish. In my (not so) expert opinion, it’s best enjoyed neat, on a cold winter’s day.
Compass Box ‘Artist Blend’
Chosen by Jonathan Wells, Deputy Editor
First things first: this isn’t the best whisky in the world. It isn’t even the best whisky from Compass Box — a boutique London-based brand on a crusade to champion overlooked, underrated blended whiskies. But it is the first bottle of whisky I ever bought, during my scotch-soaked second year of university (when most drams in digs were Bells, or Grouse).
Like those supermarket scotches, it’s a blend. But, featuring malts from Clynelish, Cameronbridge and Linkwood, Compass Box’s straw-coloured, delicately combined whisky wins out (for me) for one reason; its versatility. It’s a spirit for all seasons — brimming with Christmas spices upon the first sip, but bringing summer flowers on the next; a touch of autumn apples, followed by the zesty zing of springtime. Have it in a highball.
Want more whisky tips? Here are the 12 steps you should follow for the ultimate whisky tasting…
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