You can’t beat a reason to celebrate something, and here I’m bringing you a celebration of whisky. On Saturday May 18, it is World Whisky Day, and so it would be wrong of me not to bring you a selection to try.
World Whisky Day: Scotland
J&B Rare Whisky (RRP £22.50, Waitrose) is a blend of 42 malt and grain whiskies and was a favourite of the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Dean Martin and chums).
At the heart of J&B Rare are malt whiskies from Speyside.
If you’re a bit nervous dipping your toe into whisky (not literally, please) then this is a great place to start. It is a pale, light, subtle whisky. There’s notes of spice, baked apple and pear, with a touch of vanilla.
World Whisky Day: Ireland
The Silkie Irish Whiskey (RRP £29.95, thewhiskyexchange.com, masterofmalt.com) is so named after mythological seals, found along the Donegal coast. They came ashore to dance and turned into beautiful maidens which men found hard to resist.
That’s the effect of one glass too many I guess.
Silkie, from Sliabh Liag in County Donegal, is a blend of malt and grain whiskeys. It has aromas like the coastline, fresh and breezy, with hints of green fruit and a subtlety of honey. A tingling zap of ginger hurries along the flavours of citrus, orange zest and honey.
World Whisky Day:Wales
Penderyn Legend Single Malt Welsh Whisky (£24, from £32 at Asda until May 22). This whisky is created in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. It spends time aging in Bourbon casks and is then finished in Madeira casks.
What does this mean? Bourbon distillers use their barrels once and so there’s plenty available. In turn, many whisky producers don’t want new barrels to overpower their precious liquids.
When a whisky finishes aging in a bourbon barrel, it is transferred to a barrel which once held Madeira wine. This adds further flavour nuances. Penderyn has aromas of fresh apples and citrus and an aftertaste of Madeira cake and sultanas.
World Whisky Day:England
Adnams Single Malt English Whisky (£34.99, adnams.co.uk) is
made with 100% East Anglian malted barley. The whisky is small-batch and copper-pot stilled in Suffolk. The whisky ages in new French oak barrels for four years and then it is bottled.
This whisky has aromas of milky toffee (the ones my dad used to like, a sort of Werthers Original) with stone fruit and teases of spice. The flavours aren’t shy! The spice readily stands up to be counted, but notes of fruit and honey tell it to behave itself.
World Whisky Day:USA
TINCUP Whiskey (RRP £32.95 thewhiskyexchange.com, masterofmalt.com) is named after an old mining town in Colorado, which itself was named for the tin cups miners used to sip their whiskey. A tin cup nestles on top of the bottle and this can be used to sip the whiskey.
I tried it too, with no spillages. (There’s a first).
It’s a blend of two American whiskeys, aged in charred oak barrels. A small amount of Colorado single malt whiskey is blended with Bourbon, from Indiana. The resulting blend has a rich nose of ginger, vanilla, orange and pepper and a warming lushness in the mouth of spice and toffee. Lovely.
First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo –South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette –
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express