The value of whisk(e)y has sky-rocketed over the past few years, reaching an all-time high and even becoming the go-to option for some when it comes to investing their money.
While the golden spirit has historical fame in western Europe, it is now created across the world, with new and exciting expressions continuing to evolve.
Today, with the help of wine and spirits expert Aidy Smith, we’ll delve into some of the most fascinating whiskies for your money, time and tasting.
When it comes to Indian whisky, many may turn their noses up, but be under no illusion, as there is some fantastic stuff available.
Fusion is a distinct blend of Indian barley from nearby the Amrut distillery in India and peated Scottish barley, both matured and distilled separately in American oak for more than four years.
Non-chill-filtered for that final touch, you get nuances of the peat with a complexity that makes it even more exciting. Dollops of fresh stone fruits like apricot and peach with honey, Chinese spices and a tickle of smoke to round things out.
ABV 50 per cent
This is one of America’s most exciting creations in our opinion. Taken from some of their oldest stocks, this stunner is finished in Vermont Estate Oak, harvested right there on WhistlePig’s farm.
Given the quality of the oak, a lot more flavour is imparted within the liquid, making it one of the tastiest ryes you’ll get your hands on.
The palate is incredibly rich and succulent with allspice, butterscotch, burnt caramel and caramelised oranges. Warm, sticky, and rich with a kick of tobacco and leather on the finish.
ABV 46 per cent
With only a few bottles left on the market, this limited edition Michter’s release is one for the collection.
Their emblem Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Rye was fully matured at barrel strength before being placed in a second uniquely toasted barrel for a further 24 months of ageing.
These releases don’t happen too often, so when they do, you nab them. The result is a warm yet energetic whisky with dark chocolate, vanilla, honey, dates and burnt brown sugar.
ABV 54.4 per cent
Nikka Sessions is a brand-new addition to the Nikka portfolio and it’s a ridiculously exciting blend of whisky from not only the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries in Japan but also Scotland’s Ben Nevis distillery.
Three world-class spirit purveyors intertwine to create an evolutionary expression, carefully crafted by experts who have been creating world-class blends for decades.
Aromas of fresh apples and oranges jump from the glass as a smooth and velvety palate offers stewed orchard fruits, light toffee, and a wave of freshly peated smoke. If you can’t decide between Scotch or Japanese whisky, your question was just answered.
ABV 42 per cent
This was so hard we had to choose two, so Nikka Tailored, another beauty from the “Father of Japanese Whisky” has to be highlighted as well. Essentially replacing the Nikka 12 Year Old, this blend derives from our two favourite Japanese distilleries, Miyagiko and Yoichi. A quick sip evokes comforting notes of caramel, cocoa, vanilla and chocolate chip cookies with dried dates and espresso.
ABV 43 per cent
Yamazaki is a true pioneer of whisky as the oldest company to begin making the stuff in Japan.
Introduced to the market in 1984, Yamazaki 12 is no stranger to our glasses. Yet, despite having been around for decades, it still frequently sells out. It also racks up a plethora of new awards each year to the point the trophy cabinet will likely collapse from the weight.
Pure gold in colour, the nose offers peaches, grapefruits, vanilla and Japanese mizunara oak. The palate combines a creamy butter with coconut and redcurrants before entering a long, luscious finish of sweet ginger and cinnamon.
ABV 43 per cent
Waterford Grattansbrook 1.1, Ireland (£58 / $84)
Since Waterford launched their first dram in 2015, they have shaped a new evolution of thinking when it comes to Irish whisky.
Delving into the world of terroir they have proven that whiskies, much like wine, are a result of so many factors: the location, climate, crops, weather and so on all having a dramatic impact on the flavour inside the bottle.
Grattansbrook 1.1 is produced from the 2015 harvest of Taberna barley. These single farm origin crops are grown upon the floodplain of the River Barrow on Grattansbrook farm in Co Kildare.
Non-chill filtered and aged for three years and 10 months in a multitude of casks, including first-fill virgin US & French oak, there’s a great depth and ever-evolving complexity.
A rich texture gives way to both a dry and oily finish. Notes of fresh chocolate, green tea, brown sugar and jasmine jump out of the glass with stewed banana, caramel fudge, toffee apples and a lemon zest on the palate. The story is great, and it tastes incredible too.
ABV 50 per cent
JJ Corry The Flintlock Batch 2, Ireland (£120 / $173)
JJ Cory is no stranger to exploration and has been sourcing some of the best Irish whisky from across the heart of the country for decades.
Led by Louise McGuane, JJ Corry’s award-winning small batch whiskies are the result of decades of whisky know-how and the Flintlock Batch No 2 is no exception to that way of thinking.
The liquid was crafted from three single malt ex-bourbon casks, each from the same distillery from JJ Corry’s library. Aged 14 and 18 years, each single malt was chosen based on its unique flavour profile.
Then the magic happened - married together to produce a 46 per cent ABV dream of sticky baked apricots, rich, toasted vanilla and warm almonds atop a fresh apple tart.
ABV 46 per cent
Cotswolds Distillery Sauternes Cask, England (£75)
If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, then whisky aged in Sauternes casks is something you should be spending time hunting for.
We always find them offering a beautifully balanced assortment of candied apricot and juicy peach, making for an exceptionally smooth and soothing dram.
England’s most notable whisky distillery launched the first of their Hearts & Crafts series, and it has set a whole new benchmark of what can be produced in this country.
Small parcel French oak casks that previously held the world-famous Sauternes dessert wine from Bordeaux intertwine in the barrel, creating a complex and delicious peach and honey driven whisky.
Sweet raisin, fig and almond are met with juicy white stone fruits. Only 1,680 exist with not many left. We’re also told the distillery will shortly be releasing its 2nd Hearts & Crafts release with whisky aged in Pineau de Charentes casks and to keep an eye out.
ABV 55.2 per cent
Kavalan Podium, Taiwan (£77 / $92)
From the throne of Taiwanese whisky comes Kavalan’s Podium Single Malt.
This expressive dram focuses on the unique nuances brought to whisky using casks, using a variety of new-fill and refill American oak casks across ex-bourbon, sherry and wine.
Elegant and smooth with so much going on, this is the type of whisky you instantly fall in love with. A mixture of floral notes, coconut, vanilla and light baking spices waft out of the glass with a burst of stewed and fresh tropical fruits erupting on taste buds, with apple, honey, cherry and white pepper all having their moment.
This is another example of the pure magic that Kavalan is creating each year.
ABV 46 per cent
Scotland - A 25-Year Trio
We all know choosing your favourite scotch is like choosing your favourite child. So, we’ve decided to give you three 25-year expressions that have left a long-lasting impression.
When Chivas decided to launch their Secret Speyside collection, everyone got excited.
Aged for 25 years in a combination of American oak, hogsheads and butts, the Speyside dream knocks out sweet fruity characters alongside a distinct chocolate and spice.
Given this is a cask strength, it’s one for those who like it on the heavier side or are perfectly happy adding a touch of water to bring out more flavours.
Not only is it simply divine, but it’s also the oldest single-malt expression to have been released from Longmorn as part of the Secret Speyside Collection.
Ripe juicy plums, sultanas and cinnamon jump out on the nose with sweet vanilla spice, satsuma rind peel, rich sultanas and chocolate on the palate.
ABV 53 per cent
A pinnacle of a whisky, words themselves are difficult to piece together based on just how sensational this liquid is.
The Dalmore is one of the most renowned collections on the planet and only 3,000 bottles of the 25-year are released each year.
Each one matured in a variety of American white oak ex-bourbon casks alongside exclusive aged Tawny Port pipes and casks which have held 30 year old Matulsalem oloroso sherry.
A quarter century of extremely patient aging paves way to an unquestionable character, complexity and emotion that sings with every sip.
With only the finest wood being used, the flavours could not be more magical, with burnt toffee, tobacco and fruitcake with fruit pastilles, dark chocolate and a dried candied apricot all coming out. Dense, sweet, dry, with treacle toffee and freshly cut cacao. And the finish? It just doesn’t end.
ABV 42 per cent
Don’t you just love it when a whisky gives you the perfect balance of sweet and peat smoke? Well that’s exactly what you can expect here.
Bowmore has been a go-to name for as long as we can remember and their older age statements are a total treat.
Each delicious drop of this balanced malt sensation has been matured for 25 years in North American bourbon and Spanish sherry casks.
Intense sherry erupts from your glass with stewed dark fruits and that signature Bowmore smoke. Take your sip and you will experience the dark toffee and treacle tart, walnut and hazelnut crumb and sweet peaty smoke that just jumps out on the long finish.
ABV 43 per cent