Many people love a “wee dram” as the Scots say, and have their own preferences when it comes to drinking whisky. Of course, not all of these come from Scotland even the Welsh are now marketing Welsh whisky and the Japanese have long been in the whisky market. However, as connoisseurs will tell you the best whisky is single malt which has been matured in an oak cask for a number of years. These are more expensive than cheaper supermarket brands, but well worth the extra even if you are not a Scot and have no intention of celebrating Burn’s Night with whisky and haggis and the skirl of bagpipes.
Top of the list has to be the single malt which is best loved. or at least most often bought in the homeland of whisky. It has a smooth taste and gives your whole body a feeling of being at ease the moment you take the first sip and feel the amber nectar flowing down your throat. Happily it is not the most expensive of the single malts and pus it in most people’s price range.
This one is less well-known but is my personal favourite. It has a very distinctive aroma and taste. It tastes a little of peat and is very different to other malt whiskies. They say it is an acquired taste, but I loved it from the very first sip. It is paler than other whiskies and looks more like a dry sherry, but it warms you and makes you feel at peace with the world almost instantly.
3. Glen Grant
The fifty year old Glen Grant is one of the finest you could ever wish to drink, but there are other younger one’s made by the same company which, while not as spectacular, are enjoyable to savour. The whisky is matured in wooden casks and some are very pale for Scotch, but this shouldn’t put you off purchasing a bottle.
4. Single Speyside Malt
This particular brand has a very long history and the manufacturers have been in the whisky-making business for hundreds of years. The 41 year old Speyside is a treat for the taste buds, but is expensive and rarer now than it once was of course because of its popularity. However like Glen Grant there are younger ones that deserve to be tried and you won’t be disappointed.
5. Macallen Fine Oak
The Macallen as it is known has been appreciated by many who have become aficionados of this brand of whisky. You can buy 20 year old malts and younger ones which will delight your palate. It has been matured in oak casks as its name suggests.
Bowmore is popular single malt, with a long distilling tradition behind it. Each of the years has a different flavour to the discerning taste buds, and the older it is, the finer the flavour, but the 12 year old is a very good buy.
This isn’t very well-known, but if you can track down a bottle, you won’t regret it!
Talisker is easier to find than Dalmere, and is well worth partaking of. Again there are different ages of this single malt, and the older are usually better.
Glenfarclas comes in various ages and is worth scouting around for. It is popular in Scotland, but has only relatively recently been discovered by Sassenachs (foreigners). Be one of the first of your friends to sample it.
GlenFiddich is not one of the best single malts, but it gets a mention in this list because it is the top selling single malt in the States and in British pubs. When I worked in a pub with a rather eccentric landlord who knew a lot about whisky and actually never drank anything else, he regarded this as “cooking” whisky, and the only single malt which he would allow to be served with adulterants such as ginger ale.
It should perhaps be noted that good single malts should be drunk with water only. If you add any other liquid you will lose the fine flavour of the malt. If you treat a glass of single malt as you would one of fine armagnac or cognac, and warm the glass in your hands before drinking the malt, you will release the flavour so that you have the full magical experience of the amber nectar trickling down your throat. Your taste buds will appreciate this too, so try it neat or with a little water.