Freedom and Whisky gang thegither! So exclaimed Robert Burns, so what better way to celebrate Burns Night than raising a glass of Scotch to the famous poet? Here’s five of the best that might well be new to you…
James McIntosh, co-founder of whisky mixer Larkfire, has compiled the CALIBRE Five Things list after visiting more than 50 distilleries in Scotland over the past four months.
1. Bunnahabhain Caorag
Caorag – or ‘small-peat’ in Scottish Gaelic – is a hand-filled exclusive distillery release. A perfect balance with a sweet sherry influence and warming peaty flavour. It’s perfect for a dark January night.
£85 for a 70cl bottle from bunnahabhain.com
2. Blair Athol 12 Years Old Flora & Fauna
A fantastic, rich, sweet Highland single malt, from the Flora & Fauna range. Notes on the nose include dried apricots and treacle toffee, with a curious sweetness after the dryish finish. We enjoyed drinking this at the unique Mash Tun tasting bar, which certainly adds to the experience.
£48 for a 70cl bottle from Amazon.co.uk
3. Glengoyne 18 Year Old
This is a picture-perfect distillery. We recommend the 18-year-old expression, which uses 50% first-fill sherry casks. It has a tremendous depth and mouth feel, with a taste not unlike a lightly spiced apple strudel.
£87 for a 70cl bottle from Amazon.co.uk
4. Scapa The Orcadian Skiren
This whisky offers a sophisticated, tropical honeyed flavour, with a creamy sweetness and hints of tropical fruit, citrus and heather It’s matured in first-fill American Oak casks, adding complex flavours and long, shimmering finish.
£36 for a 70cl bottle from Amazon.co.uk
5. Glenallachie 10 Year Old Cask Strength
We love The GlenAllachie distillery and the people there. It’s a definite must-visit on the whisky trail. This particular whisky has a nose of heather, honey, toffee apples, and a taste of vanilla with Caribbean spices. Billy Walker, co-founder of The GlenAllachie, won the Master Distiller/Master Blender of the Year at the Icons of Whisky Awards in December.
£66 for a 70cl bottle from Amazon.co.uk
James McIntosh travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, visiting countless distilleries ahead of the launch of award-winning ‘wild water’ Larkfire, which releases and enhances the depth of flavour of whisky.
“In Scotland there is incredible passion and care involved in making whisky, so if you enjoy a splash of water with your dram, it’s important not to undo any elements of the complex distilling and aging process by ensuring you’re adding the best possible water,” explains McIntosh.
“People often add tap water to scotch, but the water has been recycled several times before it reaches your glass, and the added chlorine and fluoride interfere with the delicate whisky flavours. Bottled water also has a high mineral content which affects the aroma and taste.
“However, Larkfire is the perfect water to mix with whisky as it is pure and naturally soft with an exceptionally low mineral content thanks to the billion-year-old Lewisian gneiss rocks, a key feature of the geology of the Isle of Lewis.”