With winter approaching, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book and a glass of your favorite whisky, served neat. Don’t know your whiskies? No problem. The Agency is here to offer our top recommendations.
This earthy Highland malt is made from the waters of a river that runs through the village where the distillery sits – how cool is that? The bottles are adorned with a 12-point stag’s head and the whisky has a nose of lemongrass and citrus. A bottle of 62-year-old Dalmore was auctioned off in 2005 for over $50,000.
In order to be classified as a ‘Scotch’ Whisky, the spirit, made from malted barley, must have been matured in an oak cask in Scotland for a minimum of three years and have been bottled at a minimum strength of 40% alcohol by volume. Coming from the West Highland
region, Oban is a favorite of serious single-malt drinkers, and it offers a blend of the smokier flavors of the Scottish isles paired with the lighter, fruitier tastes found in Scotches from the Highlands.
Japanese single malts are all the rage these days, and Hakushu is one of the most coveted labels. This whisky has a deep, fruity aroma combined with soft smoke, reminiscent of an Islay Scotch. A little peatier, but not quite as strong, as the also-popular Hibiki, and with a smoothness to warm your heart.
This distillery’s curiously tiny stills are the smallest on Speyside, but they turn out some of the most popular whisky on the planet. The Macallan distillers grow their own barley, draw water from their own private springs and select only the finest 16% of the spirit for
maturation. The wonderfully rich 18-year variety is extra-smooth, with hints of licorice and tobacco.
Another Speyside superstar, The Balvenie was founded in 1892 and is known for introducing various wood finishes to its malts. Their aptly named DoubleWood is a 12-year single malt that is aged in second-fill Bourbon casks before being transferred to Oloroso
Sherry casks. The Bourbon barrel adds vanilla, marshmallow and caramel to the earthy original spirit, and the Sherry barrel’s finishes it off with a hint of peach, clover, honey and prunes.
In Gaelic, the name Glenlivet means ‘valley of the smooth-flowing one’. How can that not make good Scotch? This Speyside spirit ranges from inexpensive to auction-worthy, and it bursts with valley flavors – honey, heather, apples and plums.
The Glenkinchie distillery started making world-class Scotch in 1837. It is the supreme Scottish Lowland Malt – grassy, floral and full-bodied, with just a hint of smoke. There’s complexity is rare for a Lowland whisky.
On the northern shore of Islay, Bunnahabhain has been churning out an extra peaty, fantastic single malt for more than 130 years. The nose is a balance of smoke and peat, and the palate offers hints of brine, malt sweetness, orchard fruit and nuts.
A popular blended Irish whisky, Jonny Walker is ideal for mixed drinks but can also be taken neat. Red Label – their most popular variety – was supposedly a favorite of Winston Churchill. For a bolder taste, try their Green Label, blended from four malts “drawn from the four corners of Scotland” and aged 15 years.
Our nod to bourbon, Maker’s has been distilling bourbon in Laretto, Kentucky since 1954. Their exquisite Maker’s 46 is aged longer than usual in seared French oak staves. The staves create bold, complex flavors of vanilla, oak and molasses, while eliminating the bitterness that often comes with extra-aged whiskies.