During lockdown conditions you want a whisky that wont break the bank but will give you plenty to enjoy. Obviously there might be some of you who know what you like and have an extensive collection, but hopefully there'll be a couple you haven't tried yet or get tempted to give it a go. As we might find ourselves staying in more than we had anticipated, these will be good accompaniments to end the day. I've found that during the lockdown I've been listening to music more, enjoying it for what it is rather than as background. And having a wee dram has helped elevate the experience and ambience.
Whether you're a single malt type of person, or go for the heavy peaty whiskies, or even a complete newbie to whisky, I hope that the following whiskies will inspire you to add to your collection or try for the first time. Seeing as things are unpredictable and some of us may have been furloughed or even lost jobs, our spending will have to change in these uncertain times. I have taken that into consideration and am providing suggestions that can be enjoyed now and once we're through this. Sláinte!
Old Pulteney 17YO Single Malt
This particular whisky got to my attention at a bar that had an extensive whisky collection. I was actually drinking some Hibiki at the time, but was in conversation with my guest about Old Pulteney which the barman overheard and recommended the 17YO. He was generous enough to let us sample it, and ever since, whenever I can find it I opt for a wee dram. This is a balanced whisky with what the distillery like to describe as taste of the sea. That's probably best described as reminding of salty sea air and wood burner fires and smoke wafting through the evening breeze. On the palate you get a sweetness that quickly leads to dry wood and dried apricots and raisins to finish. This is the special treat bottle with it over £100, but should last you a good while.
Highland Park 18YO
I've always had a soft spot for Highland Park and have enjoyed numerous versions as well as celebrated Burns Night with Highland Park enjoying a reading of the poem to the haggis followed by bagpipes. Every time I drink this it evokes memories. The Highland Park 18YO is, however, a very consistent whisky that you can't go wrong with. It's gained plenty of awards over the years and justifiably so. Let this be an investment for lockdown and beyond.
Johnnie Walker Black Label
An outstanding whisky for its price. According to some in the industry I've heard Black Label is highly recommended by them and is an exceptionally a solid go-to whisky. It doesn't disappoint. For the past few years I've always have a bottle of Black Label in rotation in my drinks cabinet. It has a soft amount of sweetness with a subtle peaty note that lingers for a second or two before moving away off your palette in smooth like fashion. I can't stress how good this is, especially in terms of what you get for your buck. Value and yet premium all rolled into one. You might have to end up getting a second bottle fairly quickly.
Bowmore soon became a favourite of mine after trying a few drams while travelling and have time to spare in the duty free. Being an Islay whisky it has a subtle balanced amount of smokiness which I like, paired with sweetness coming from the sherry barrels it's been aged in. There's a treacle like quality in colour and taste which mesmerises me every time I pour a glass. I tend always find myself having a dram of Bowmore 18YO with dark chocolate. Such a nice combination.
J B & Rare
A real fun one to have in the locker and a whisky which you can can a ton of cocktails without having to worry about 'wasting' any of the quality liquor. J & B Rare evokes images from classic Hollywood movies and used by the barman serving a drink to the lead protagonist. You can become that protagonist and get in the mood by dressing up with a bow tie perhaps (untied) and lounge in your favourite chair and listen to some jazz. A collectors item if ever there was one.
Nikka Whisky From the Barrel
A firm favourite of mine, first given to me by colleague and style icon T-Michael. A frequent visitor of Japan he gave this to me after hearing my liking for whisky. Nikka From the Barrel is a light and very easy to drink whisky that can be shared and poured freely. It's a good one to convert people to whisky, although that's your call. However, I found several friends gladly taking a dram or two. you can also enjoy with a dash of water, or as the Japanese love, a Highball (soda water and ice in a highball glass).
Cardhu Gold Reserve
This is a fantastic gem of whisky. I remember chatting to someone who used to work at the Cardhu distillery and said how she missed it. We were both waxing lyrical about the Gold Reserve which is a very easy to drink single malt. Featuring a slightly sweeter taste with what could be described as containing toffee notes. Delicate but very pleasant. Get this on your rotation with another lighter whisky – a blended variety perhaps – or have as a precursor to something slightly peaty.