Mike’s Top Ten Christmas Tipples
Mike’s Top Ten Christmas Tipples
Here is a run down of ten fantastic whiskies available from Inverurie Whisky Shop that I would recommend to our customers. With less than four weeks to go until the big day, it’s time to look out for those drams that can help you through the onslaught of early mornings, rowdy kids, visiting in-laws and late nights.
You might also be looking for a great present for a whisky loving friend or loved one. These whiskies have every budget in mind and will be sure to be opened and enjoyed by the recipient. Just try and make sure they’re the type to share their bottles with their favourite people!
From opening presents in the morning, welcoming the in-laws or unwinding after a pretty full-on meal, I’ve given you a wee guide to when each whisky might be enjoyed during the course of the day. Of course, you might want a tipple of something different at each stage, and we have something prepared for that too - find out about our fun tasting night being held at the shop on the 17th December, where we are pairing different stages of the day to different drams!
For the Sherry Lover….
When many people think of sherry cask whisky they tend to think of the big names such as MacAllan or Glenfarclas, but there are some wonderful, lesser known distilleries and bottlers out there who are more than worth trying. Sherry cask whisky is a great style to go for on Christmas Day, with tasting notes often compared to Christmas Cake, Cinnamon, Winter Spices and Chocolate, all of which should be enjoyed in abundance during the Festive Period!
Exclusively matured in Oloroso Sherry Casks, this relatively new release from the new Lowland Disitllery of Lindores should be near the top of any list for sherry whisky fans. Robust and dry, this whisky offers the nuttier side of sherry influences.
At a slightly higher ABV of 49.5% this might not be one to start with at the crack of dawn, but it’s a belting after-dinner drink with lots of sweet flavours running through it. Chocolate covered hazelnuts, figs and raisins are abundant with enough of a spiciness about it to cosy up to with a warm mincemeat pie.
Another dram from one of Scotlands newest distilleries, Lochlea. This Oloroso matured whisky is around 4 years old, but never, ever let the age of a whisky put you off. Lochlea have used only first fill sherry casks, meaning the influence from the wood is pretty intense and has transferred very quickly - just look at the colour for proof of that.
At 46% it’s a little softer and offers an amazing bouquet of mulled wine and plums. There’s cinnamon in there too, as well as dark chocolate and ginger. It’s not too strong and has a real juicy, fruity sweetness to it so is perfect for that mid-morning dram.
A sensational dram bottled for the Inverurie Whisky Shop by the team at Duncan Taylor. We bottled this guys little brother last year and it flew out the door, particularly after Prince (now King!) Charles was seen enjoying a dram while in Inverurie.
The latest release is my first Cask Strength pick, better suited to later in the day when most of the mayhem is passed and you maybe need a little extra Dutch Courage for Karaoke or Charades.
It’s a warming, robust and dry whisky with only 4 months of sherry wood exposure, albeit in a very small barrel. What does this mean? Simply the liquid has a lot of contact with the wood and so absorbs flavours quicker than in a regular cask. It is loaded with drier Christmas spices such as Nutmeg, with hints of mint and a little marzipan. It’ll go wonderfully well as a half and half alongside that Christmas Stout.
The final Sherry hitter in my Top Ten comes with a subtle hit of smoke. Benromach, based up in Speyside, peat all their whiskies to add another dimension of flavour to the dram. They are by no means loaded with medicinal or coastal notes like some West Coast whiskies, but offer a bonfire-like sweet smokiness which works wonderfully well with the sherry casks used for maturation.
The 10 year old is our biggest seller from the Benromach range and is excellent value for money. On the nose I get notes of sweet cereals, porridge like warmth with some berry jam as well. Honey lingers on the tongue while you might also get chocolatey bitterness as well as a little Christmas cake - think of that traditional smell when you light the soaked cake (you could use this dram for coating the cake for an exceptionally aromatic and delicious taste).
Something a Bit Different….
This 12 year old whisky was released as the final chapter in Tomatin’s French Collection. Finished in French Cognac casks for over 2 years, we are treated to a wonderful aroma full of orchard fruits lathered in heather honey.
A more complex palate combines Tomatin’s classic sweet malty style spirit with orange peel, cinnamon spice and green apple tartness. Some cooked apple pie and even some redcurrants come out here in an ever evolving dram.
This would be perfect again to pour over your Christmas Pudding pre-ignition, but will also accompany most white meats as a long serve with tonic or soda as part of your Christmas main meal, or if you are having poached pears for dessert, this will work exceptionally well alongside. It’s a truly different dram, with a lot going on and will please most whisky drinkers.
It seems my list is full of younger whiskies! This 7 year old is another not to be sniffed at (pardon the pun). It’s an exceptional example of a sherried whisky that doesn't act like a sherried whisky. Palo Cortado was traditionally made by accident, allowing the flor (a yeast preventing oxidisation in Fino or Manzanilla sherry production) to break down and oxidise, like an Oloroso. This results in a sherry flavour halfway between the dry, crisp flavour of Fino, but with the nutty richness of an Oloroso.
Confused? That’s ok, just be assured that it tastes awesome!
It lends its flavours very well to this Tullibardine from Independent Bottler Dram Mor. The owner, Kenny knows a thing or two about finishing his whiskies (in the cask, not the glass!) The dram is creamy and sweet, with caramel and crystalised orange and ginger. There’s some nuts in there too. It’s light on the palate and plays with beautiful butterscotch notes on the finish, alongside some more ginger and orange.
Ideal with dessert, or that lull in the morning between presents opening and the preparation for dinner to start. Maybe watch the first ever King's Speech with this one to help keep things a little upbeat.
If you are, or know someone who turns their nose up to blended whiskies, grab them by the nostrils and pour this down their neck! (Please don’t actually do this, but certainly give the whisky a try!) With loads of honeyed porridge and muesli notes, this is the perfect morning dram for those who enjoy a tipple for breakfast - it is Christmas after all!
It will set you up for the day and get you through the present opening period with a smile. Even those awful socks will be acceptable with this dram in your hand!
This is another from the impressive Adelphi back catalogue and is superb value for money, giving you all the mouthfeel and body of a single malt whisky.
A Little Bit Peaty…..
Ardnamurchan is one of our most popular whiskies at Inverurie Whisky Shop. Started up by the Adelphi Whiskies Independent Bottling group, they have a fervent following and for good reason - their liquid is outstanding! This particular bottling is leaning towards the peaty side of whisky having been made up mostly of peated spirit. It is mellowed by unpeated spirit though so will be enjoyed by most.
If your recipient is keen to try some accessible smoky drams, this is one to consider. It’s coastal notes of salted caramel and saline smells pull you back to memories of bonfires on beaches, cooking fresh fish in the evening (a romantic, classic notion but perhaps not a Christmas one!). An outstanding dram to pair with a cheeseboard in the mid evening by an open fire, while relaxing before the evening games begin!
Classic Fireside Peat….
A wonderful expression of fruit and peat combined. Kilchoman’s latest release sets the heather alight, in terms of taste - it smells and tastes like toasted flowers! Redcurrants, mixed spices and maritime goodness all revel in this interesting and attractive dram.
Casado is Portuguese for marriage, and this is a perfect marriage of maritime saltiness and cask maturation. Sweet malty vanilla and toasted oak with warming mulled notes of winter berries and fruity smoke. A delightful late evening dram for sipping and savouring once the mania of the day is over. Ideal with a cheeseboard, some smoked fish or even that last crumbs of Christmas pudding.
Casado is unique in the whisky world, vatted together for it’s final two years in 6000 litre Portuguese Wine tubs, it is technically 8 years old, however due to Whisky Legislation, these barrels are too big in terms of maturation so legally, it’s only 6 years old!
On a Budget…..
Loch Lomond Original is an exceptionally smooth, full-bodied and easy drinking single malt scotch whisky. Sitting below the £25 mark, this whisky delivers a wonderful burst of sweet honey & citrus notes.
An easy drinker that won’t be sniffed at by even the most ardent of whisky fans, this is perfect for taking out when the in-laws arrive and
you want to save your expensive stuff! In all seriousness, it’s a great dram and an adept all-rounder, with a tiny wisp of smoke in there - not enough to offend - but enough to add a little depth to the dram.
With a lot of vanilla and some orchard fruit notes, this might be a more elegant approach to those cheeseboard drams, or one for the person not too keen on a strong whisky, but is willing to give it a go.