Uisge-beatha: the water of life.
Whisky is to Scotland what maple syrup is to Canada. Maybe even more so.
When I first moved to Scotland I admit, I wasn't much of a whisky fan. But then, about 8 years ago I attended a malt whisky tasting at MacSorleys (RIP) organised by the Good Spirits Co. and I learned to appreciate whisky (and also got quite drunk, to be honest). Since then I've been to Islay twice now and have visited every distillery there bar one. If you're not really a whisky fan but think you might appreciate the odd dram now and then, I would highly recommend attending a tasting to learn a little bit about whisky and the different regions they're distilled in; here's a helpful description and video to get you started.
So, in honour of World Whisky Day, here's a list of some of our favourite whiskies. Most should be fairly easy to find except maybe the Nikka Yoichi 20-year old that we sampled on our honeymoon (it's probably cheaper to fly to Japan yourselves and buy a dram at the distillery bar - assuming they still have some).
Just a note: we don't pretend to know anything about whisky beyond liking what we like. Obviously taste is a very personal thing and if you wanna add water or an ice cube to your dram, go right ahead (no judgement here) - though we suggest trying it neat first. Now, in no particular order:
1. Auchentoshan 12 Year Old
Located just outside Glasgow in Clydebank, Auchentoshan has been referred to as Glasgow's malt whisky - though with Clydeside now open on the outskirts of the West end that might change? (FYI - although now open, Clydeside's whisky won't be ready until at least 2020).
Anyway, I really like the Auchentoshan 12 year old because it's sweet, smooth, and reasonably priced (currently £34.60 on Amazon or £36 at Good Spirits).
LOVE this whisky - slightly peaty and fruity, this whisky can sometimes be hard to find in shops as they're an independent distillery (e.g. not owned by one of the big 4: Diageo, Pernod Richard, William Grant & Sons, and Bacardi). If you have problems finding it in your local shops, you can always get it via Amazon (currently £44).
Despite being an Islay whisky (known to be quite peaty), Bunnahabhain isn't that peaty (something that the Scottish half of LAKE&LOCH prefers but I personally don't). Again a sweeter whisky that is spicy and smooth with a hint of vanilla.
Yes, another sweet whisky with hints of toffee and spice. Obviously I'm quite partial to the sweeter whiskies.
5. Maker's Mark
Ohhh, controversial! Technically not a whisky but rather, a bourbon (single malt whisky is made from malted barley; bourbon is made from at least 51% corn, with the remainder made up of rye, wheat and barley - although Maker's Mark doesn't use rye but instead a mixture of corn, red winter wheat, and malted barley). It's smooth with hints of vanilla and cinnamon.
Really good on its own or in an Old-Fashioned, Maker's Mark is one I like to have on-hand because it's so versatile and almost always a crowd-pleaser.
BONUS: As mentioned above, whilst on our honeymoon in Japan, we went up to the Nikka Distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido and sampled what was probably the best whisky we've ever tasted (in our, admittedly, limited whisky tasting lives): the Nikka Yoichi 20 Year Old. Smoky and mellow, it kinda blew our minds. The 20 year old has now been discontinued due to Japanese and global demand. Pretty wild but understandable as Japanese whisky is incredible.
What are some of your favourites?