Friday, December 19, 2014

Gift Guide 2014 - Scotch

We are down to the wire for holiday shopping ladies and gentlemen, and if you're anything like me, you're waiting until the last possible minute before you run to the liquor store to buy gifts for everyone you love.  In my opinion, you can never go wrong giving someone a bottle of scotch.  Never.  Especially if the recipient is a lover of things delicious, savory, and boozy.  This year I've tasted some amazing scotch, and herewith, are some of my holiday selections for 2014:

1.  One of my favorite scotches I tried this year was The Glenlivet 18 - creamy, complex, and full of dried fruit, coconut, apple, honey, dried pineapple, cacao, and a touch of coffee.  A lovely dram for anyone who likes fully matured Speyside Scotch that is aged for more than 18 years in American Oak and Sherry Oak Casks.  $92

2.  For the lucky person on your list who loves a heavily peated Scotch, Ardbeg Uigeadail (Oog-a-dal) is a dark and smoky whisky made with water from the peat-laden Uigeadail loch.  The Uigeadail is complex, moody, smoky with undertones of dried fruit, coffee, and tannin from the ex-sherry casks, and highlights of salt, pine, leather, and chocolate caramel.  Peat-Bomb.  $74 

3.  Balblair 02 is a gorgeous dram for those who like lighter and more floral scotches from the Highlands.  The Balblair is bright yet full bodied, with flavors of malted grain, orange, green apple, lemon, with a caramel sweetness and light creaminess. I love the finish on this scotch, it's sweet but it has bite - lest you forget it's scotch you're drinking.  $49

4.  The scotch world is a-buzz with Diageo's recent investments that are making Mortlach (Mort-leigh) more readily available.  Mortlach was the first legal distillery in Speyside, and is commonly used in blended scotches.  The limited amount of Mortlach single malt that has been made available on the market has stayed a well kept secret of whiskey lovers.  But now, the "wild child of Speyside" is now available in the US, and is poised to take the limelight.  Released this year is the Mortlach Rare Old, which does not boast an age statement, and the Mortlach 18, the biggest and boldest of the new expressions.  The most complex is the 25 year Mortlach, often referred to as the "tajine of Scotch", and has flavors of waxy oranges, oak spice, peaches, white jasmine, mandarin, pear, floral perfume contrasted with an earthy umami flavor (think venison), black pepper, baking spices, and dark chocolate.  Any of the Mortlach single malts (Rare Old, 18, and 25) are rare and special, but the 25 year is sure to impress the most discerning of Scotch connoisseurs.  $1,000

5.  This summer Old Putney 35 was released, with only 450 cases available worldwide.  Aged in ex bourbon and ex sherry casks, non-chill filtered, this gorgeous limited edition single malt has a nose of tangerine, vanilla, caramel, cacao, and dried fruit.  On the palate you get more of the sherry cask - the bite of tannin, bright caramelized citrus fruits, honey, golden raisin, toasted grains, and a layer of salt that is reminiscent of the open sea.  $700

6.  The Compass Box The Lost Blend is the only blended malt whiskey on this list - a limited edition blend of three single malts, two Highlands and one Islay (70%Clynelish, 8% Allt-a-Bhainne, and 22% Caol-Ila) ranging from 10-19 years old, and is inspired by the beloved Eleuthera blend the first ever single malt blend by The Compass Box retired in 2004.  This release is a limited edition with only 12,018 bottles available worldwide.  It's a creamy and delicate scotch with a bit of bite on the finish.  The nose is perfumed vanilla with a touch of clementine.  The Lost Blend has a creamy mouth feel, with bright citrus, caramel, vanilla, toasted grains, white peppercorn, and an anise finish that leaves your palate wanting more.  $120

7.  The Highland Park Dark Origins is the delicious no age statement sherried release from Highland Park this year, and has been welcomed with much praise.  The Dark Origins is aged in 80% first fill ex-sherry casks and 20% refill sherry casks, which makes this expression extra spicy, with bold flavors of chocolate, dried cherry, black pepper, fig, orange, and a bold tannic finish with a touch of smoky sweetness that leaves one salivating.  $80

8.  I love Bowmore - it's one of my favorites.  It's sweet, salty, big, and it's got a lot going on.  This year, Bowmore has released their Small Batch Reserve that is matured in first and second fill bourbon casks, making this expression softer and a bit more fruity than the traditional mark.  There are flavors of apple, caramel, vanilla, honey, mango, and just enough of that signature salty sweet peatiness to remind you of a beach bonfire.  $41

9.  Sometimes a lady needs a light, yet sophisticated single malt.  Lately I've been sipping on Glencadam 10 year, a delightfully delicate scotch with flavors of heathered honey, green apple, meyer lemon, almond, with a bit of white pepper spiciness from the sherry cask.  This is a great scotch to introduce to people just getting into single malts, who want something smooth, fruity, and "Rather Delicate".  And, the price is right.  $45

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