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Top 5: Scotch Whiskies

Photographer: John McKenna

Lagavulin 16 Years Old: A fantastic smoky single malt from the island of Islay, off the western coast of Scotland. It is the quintessential peated whisky with notes of rich toffee, bonfires and warming spiced mulled wine.

The Glenlivet 18 Years Old: Don’t poo-poo big brands like The Glenlivet (now the biggest selling single malt in the world) because of their ubiquity. There is a reason they’re successful, because they’re good, and the 18 year old from The Glenlivet shows off classic Speyside sweetness, heather notes and dried fruits.

Aberlour 16 Years Old: Another whisky from Scotland’s Speyside region, this is a whisky which needs to be shouted about. Not many people know about Aberlour (save for in France where it is a mega-brand) and the 16 years old shows off the well balanced nature of this whisky, as honey notes intertwine with wood spices.

Johnny Walker Black Label: Don’t forget blended whisky, which accounts for over 90% of all Scotch sales worldwide. JW Black is one of the most consistent performers in the Scotch category and gives a rounded note of smoke and sweetness. Best drunk in a far flung country such as India!

Hibiki Harmony: Why does it always have to be Scotch?! Just because it is Burn’s night, doesn’t mean you can’t look elsewhere and this Japanese blended whisky is utterly scrummy, and almost a little too easy to drink. Ripe plums and vanilla in the glass, wrapped up in malty goodness!

Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley are authors of Distilled: From absinthe & brandy to vodka & whisky, the world’s finest artisan spirits unearthed, explained & enjoyed, available here 

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