If you’re new to the whisky scene, it can be overwhelming to hunt for the right bottle for a whisky lover. With the holiday season at hand, we’ve drafted out a short list of five whiskies (and a couple of rums) that we think will please almost any whisky fan.
Tamnavulin Sherry Cask Edition (40% abv)
With a focus on drinkability and flavours made through double maturation, the Sherry Cask Edition started off life as an ex-bourbon cask matured whisky before it was finished in three different Spanish sherry casks. The result is an easy-going single malt with notes of red berries, honey, and Fruit & Nut milk chocolate. For those who are just entering into the whisky world, or looking for an everyday sherried dram, this Speysider ticks all the right boxes.
Kilchoman Madeira Matured 2021 (50% abv)
A recent addition, the 2021 Madeira Matured is everything you look for in a Christmas whisky from Islay. Fully matured for 5 years and 3 months in a madeira cask, this heavily peated whisky at 50ppm starts with bright citrus zest and raisins before moving onto walnuts and dark chocolate, underlined with a well-integrated smokiness. It takes a strong-willed person to stop at one dram.
Glenfarclas 15 (46% abv) & 21 (43% abv)
Consistently good and reasonably priced, Glenfarclas delivers on what you expect of a sherry-matured single malt: balanced flavours of fruitcake, chocolate, and cherries that come from well-managed sherry cask maturation.
The 15 year old packs is a vibrant dram with more alcohol at 46% abv, and is a go-to favourite among Glenfarclas fans for any occasion. The 21 Year Old, on the other hand, is more refined and mature, with notes of dark chocolate, berries, nuts and baking spices that would go well with a night in on your own, or with close friends.
Bunnahabhain 18 (46.3% abv)
The Bunna 18 is a love letter to the Scotch whisky fan. An unpeated Islay malt that’s made from a vatting of sherry and bourbon casks (with a greater proportion of sherry), this is an exceptional 18 year old that’s rich, balanced, and dense with sherry notes, with a lovely salted caramel flavour on the nose and the finish. A stellar choice.
Ledaig 18 (46.3% abv)
Islay isn’t the only place to find solid peated whiskies. The folks at Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull have been doing some great work in making the heavily peated Ledaig (pronounced “Letch-ick”). The 18 Year Old stands out as an ideal stocking stuffer because of its rich peat and sweet sherry flavours — think smoky coal-smoked barbecue, sweet syrup, raisins, dark chocolate with a long, lingering finish.
Bonus: Dictador Rum 12 & 20 YO Rums (40% abv)
For those who aren’t quite into whiskies (yet), why not get a good rum? Unlike most aged rums that tend to have a sweet raisin-like profile, this Colombian rum starts off with milk coffee, followed by chocolate, creme brulee, raisins and toasted oak. The 12 year old is a great gift that’s easily drunk on its own or in a cocktail, while the 20 year old is an ideal sipping rum with deeper flavours of dark chocolate and spices.