Happy New Year from all of us here at The Scotch Whisky Experience! January is the month where we all start thinking about fresh starts or new ways of thinking, and even more so this year with it being the start of a new decade. This all ties in very nicely with the ‘Year of the Rat’ in the Chinese calendar which represents new beginning and renewals. With all of that in mind, our Bar Manager, Ian, has created January’s ‘Whiskies of the Month’ to follow that very theme!
Lowlands – Kingsbarns ‘Dream to Dram‘
To start us off, we have a Lowlands distillery which is in fact a brand-new name in the world of Scotch whisky! Kingsbarns distillery, located outside St. Andrews, was established in 2014, making it only 6 years old this year! This ‘Dream to Dram’ expression is the first public release to come out of the distillery. It really is an exciting time to be a Scotch whisky fan, especially with all these new names turning up on our bar shelves and those around the country!
Kingsbarns ‘Dream to Dram’ is a great example of how good a young whisky can be. It’s really fresh and citrussy, alongside lots of vanilla custard sweetness.
Highlands – Glenturret 10
Moving on now from one of the youngest names in the Scotch whisky industry to one of the oldest; Glenturret is one of the oldest known distilleries in Scotland and was founded in 1775! Even though this Highland brand is a household name in the world of Scotch whisky, it still finds ways to reinvent itself. In fact, the Glenturret distillery has recently changed ownership and is now being operated by the same company who own the luxury crystal maker Lalique – definitely a fresh new start for this old distillery!
Glenturret 10-years-old is quite a robust and oily whisky with hints of orange and apple peel, toasted nuts, and a deep maltiness.
Speyside – BenRiach Cask Strength
While we are on the topic of distillery ownership, Speyside’s BenRiach distillery has plenty of its own stories to tell. In BenRiach’s 123-year history it has had a total of 6 different owners! The brand is currently owned by the American company Brown-Forman. It is all thanks to them employing “master blender”, Rachel Barrie, that BenRiach whisky has transformed into what it is today. In fact, Rachel is so good at her job that she was inducted as a “Keeper of the Quaich”, one of the most prestigious titles in the industry!
BenRiach Cask Strength is a very ‘full on’ whisky. Due to the high alcohol content you are going to get intense aromas and flavours that will remind you orchard fruits, lemon, spices, and boiled sweets.
Campbeltown – Glen Scotia 15
The Campbeltown region of Scotland has had an interesting history to say the least. It was known as the beating heart of the Scotch whisky world until, partly thanks to the ‘Pattison crash’ of 1899, the industry (particularly in this region) saw a massive decline. Yet here we are, over 120 years later talking about this magnificent Scotch whisky region! Campbeltown is not shy of the concept of new starts and neither is the Glen Scotia distillery, which has also seen many different owners and is still going strong and constantly re-inventing itself!
Glen Scotia 15 is fully matured in American Oak casks which provides a lot of sweetness like vanilla, honey, and coconut but this, alongside a sea spray flavour that’s typical of the region.
Islay – Smokehead Sherry Bomb
The Scotch whisky industry is always looking for new ways for people to enjoy whisky or to find new demographics of people who will enjoy Scotch whisky. A great example of this is Islay’s Smokehead brand which is packaged to appeal to younger consumers and can be found at quite a few cocktail festivals. The brand encourages people to get creative with their whiskies and always find new ways to enjoy them. Of course, you can still drink this whisky neat!
Smokehead Sherry Bomb (as the name suggests) has been maturing in sherry casks, which gives this whisky a rich dried fruits and spices character, alongside that typical Islay peat and smoke!
Blended – Johnnie Walker Green Label
It’s probably safe to say that Johnnie Walker is one of the most recognisable Scotch whisky brands in the world and it’s been around for quite a while. In fact, Johnnie Walker is going to be celebrating it’s 200th anniversary this year! Over the years, Johnnie Walker have produced some fantastic marketing and advertising, from the introduction of the iconic ‘striding man’ figure in 1908, to the successful ‘Keep Walking’ campaign. Forever keeping themselves fresh and on trend, the brand is constantly reinventing itself with new ideas!
Johnnie Walker Green Label is a Blended Malt, made from single malts that include Cragganmore, Linkwood, Talikser, and Caol Ila which makes it really balanced, fruity, yet smoky at the same time.
Liqueur – Glayva
Liqueurs work perfectly as an after-dinner drink or an aperitif, since they are much sweeter and gentler compared to single malt or blended Scotch whisky. So, if your new year’s resolution for 2020 is to ‘get into’ Scotch whisky, then liqueurs are ideal if you are trying a dram for the first time!
Glayva, which means “very good” in Scots Gaelic, is exactly that! It’s a liqueur made with whisky, honey, spices, almonds, and tangerines, giving a lovely sweet, spicy, orangey, and aniseed experience. Perfect as an after-dinner drink!
Luxury – GlenAllachie 25
Finally, we finish off our set with the GlenAllachie distillery, which is another site that has seen a lot of change and new expressions in its recent history. Back in 2017, the GlenAllachie distillery was sold to a gentleman with a well-known reputation in the Scotch whisky industry, Billy Walker. Since taking over the distillery, Billy has transformed the whisky and it is now definitely seen as a ‘go-to’ dram. It just goes to show that a new way of thinking can generate positive results!
Glenallachie 25 has a strong Sherry influence which means that you can expect lots of fruit cake, chocolate, treacle, and nuttiness from this whisky. This is indulgent stuff!