I started pulling this list of ‘Best Scotch Whisky to Sip in 2017’ together at the end of last year after attending the launch of the excellent Glenfiddich Project XX. Over the Christmas period, and during the first quarter of this year, I sampled and added some notable bottles to the list. The connoisseurs among you will recognise some old favourites, merely suggestions for new enthusiasts (or reminders for yourselves) plus a handful of newer releases I’ve had the pleasure of trialling, and a couple I’m yet to!
GlenGrant 10YO – $55.95
Fresh from a recent bottle makeover, the Glen Grant 10YO is the ultimate utility player, at an unbeatable price. A wonderful whisky that pleases every palate, from the first timer to Jim Murray. Destined to accompany you on many a future session.
Mortlach 15YO – $119.99
I attended the Mortlach Rare Old launch some years ago but was always deterred by the 500ml portion – it’s simply not enough liquid for three men watching Arsenal collapse at 4 am. Enter the Mortlach 15YO, equal in pedigree and deliciousness, with notes of stewed fruits and glimpses of delicate spice.
Chivas Ultis – $219.99
Sure, I may have shared a Chivas Ultis with Chris Evans aka Captain America himself last year, but there’s no bias here – this blend of five Speyside malts from Allt a’Bhainne, Braeval, Longmorn, Strathisla and Tormore is genuinely delicious.
The Singleton 12YO – $69.99
I attended the launch of The Singleton 12YO in Sydney a couple of years ago. It’s still a fantastic go to at an affordable price – adequate for sipping straight or a versatile whisky for mixed drinks or cocktails.
Caol Ila 12 – $98.99
If you’re yet to get acquainted with Caol Ila 12YO (pronounced with some contention as ‘Cull-EE-la’ by some and ‘Cool-AAY-la’ by others) you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Perhaps my favourite whisky under the $100 mark, the perfect blend of peat and perfection. Don’t let the name throw you, the barman will correct you whichever way you deliver it.
Aberlour A’Bunadh – $113.99
I picked up an Aberlour A’Bundah ‘Batch 30’ Duty-Freee last year and found it to be utterly scrumptious. Since then I’ve read some great remarks about the ‘Batch 50’, which I’m yet to try. The unique batches are characterised by big raisin flavours and creamy, lengthy mouthfeel.
Bladnoch Samsara – $149.99
The Bladnoch Samsara joined me for my 2016/17 NYE celebrations and was applauded by all that consumed it. Perfect for quaffing, the Samsara is complex and beautifully refined with notable viscosity and a wonderful menagerie of fruit flavours touched by Oak.
Lark Distillery Single Malt Classic Cask – $139.99
A group of friends and I made the trip to Lark Distillery last year – an afternoon well spent next time you’re in Tasmania. Every part of Lark’s process is boutique, and local, which makes enjoying their Single Malt Classic Cask somehow more romantic. It’s a little expensive for a 500ml serve but you’ll enjoy every drop.
Glenfiddich Project XX – $139.99
At the end of 2016, Glenfiddich unveiled their IPA Experiment and Project XX whiskies. I had the pleasure of trying both at the launch event and was far more impressed by the Project XX, which blends 20 whiskies selected by the distillery’s 20 brand ambassadors, combined by master blender Brian Kinsman. It’s hot.
The Macallan Edition No.2 – $110
The Macallan Edition No. 1 was very well received, thus the No.2 had big shoes to fill. Which it did, without breaking a sweat. I cursed the size of the small promotional bottle that landed on my desk. The nose is exquisite and the liquid follows suit. Choose it over the 12YO.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old 200th Anniversary Scotch Whisky – $89.99
Three words. Affordable, age statement. What a whisky for the price! Drinks much older than 8 years. Sweet and citrus flavours dance with perfect peat. More approachable than the 16YO. Stock up before they stop producing it!
Ledaig 1996 Limited Release – $200
If you’re going to spend the night at Baxter Inn, you may as well do it right. And that’s going straight to the Ledaig 1996 Limited Release, without a doubt my favourite whisky of 2016. With sweetness added from Oloroso Sherry casks, a palate of apple and citrus dissolve into a game-changing finale of smoke.
Kilchoman Single Cask Caroni Rum Finish – €135
Finally, this week I tried a very limited run whisky from Islay distillery Kilchoman at Maison Du Whisky in Singapore. It absolutely knocked my socks off! It’s a whopper at 59.5% ABV with a note of petrol highlights the influence of the Caroni cask finish. Somehow it remains wonderfully complex and silky smooth. A very impressive drop.