Christmas is a time to share a few whisky glasses with friends and families. Below are our pick of whiskies for that memorable celebration:
Speyside’s Honeyed Balvenie
People’s tastes for whisky may differ yet an ardent lover of whisky can never go wrong with a well-turned single malt of The Balvenie. Speyside’s honeyed Balvenie 12yo is a good buy this season. However if you really want to give that special one a big treat, then the bottle to give would be the new Balvenie 1961, the oldest Balvenie ever released. At first this 55-year-old whisky is all leather-bound libraries and fireplaces, but a drop of water blows the dust off, revealing amazingly sprightly blackcurrant, citrus and a hint of Parma Violets, a trademark of 1960s Balvenies.
The 1961 Balvenie whisky is part of a quintet of single-cask whiskies that make up the Third Chapter in the Balvenie DCS Compendium, a 25-bottle epic that’s being released over five years to celebrate the 55-year career of Balvenie’s softly spoken malt master David Stewart. A complete Third Chapter goes for N27, 374, 535.00 (£57,000) for five bottles, but 15 bottles of the 1961 have also been released on their own, priced at an eye-watering N16, 809, 033.50 (£35,000) each.
Yamazaki 18yo Mizunara
Another treasured all whisky nuts that will make your Christmas great is the new Yamazaki 18yo Mizunara is sold for N480, 255 (£1,000), a Japanese single malt aged exclusively in Japanese oak, which makes it very unusual (whisky is usually aged in American or European oak). All types of oak have their own flavour profile – Japanese oak, or mizunara, produces exotic notes of incense and spice that mingle deliciously with its more generous Madeira cake and orange marmalade characters.
American Antique Collection
The most sought-after of the American whiskies will undoubtedly be the latest Antique Collection goes for N48, 025.81 to N57, 630.60 (£100-£120) of five limited edition bourbons and ryes from Kentucky’s historic Buffalo Trace Distillery. The Sazerac 18yo rye is one of those real life-changing whiskies that should be in every collection, and this year’s reiteration is no exception.
Compass Box Collection
A serving from whisky blenders Compass Box, is not a bad idea. The Compass Box which has a skill for combining excellent liquid with eye-catching packaging. Its latest limited editions include the heavily peated No Name N N48, 025.81 (£100) and Phenomenology N 72, 038.25 (£150), which has no information about the whisky on the label so that one can taste blind, before going to the website to get chapter and verse on the make-up of the blend. So, whatever your choice this yuletide, just have fun!
Where to find them: Balvenie, see Master of Malt. Buffalo Trace, see Hedonism Wines. Compass Box, see The Whisky Exchange. Hedonism Wines, hedonism.co.uk. Master of Malt, masterofmalt.com. The Whisky Exchange, thewhiskyexchange.com. Yamazaki, see Master of Malt.