Whisky is liquid sunshine. As George Bernard Shaw famously wrote, whisky is more than just a drink. Recommendations for good whisky still tend to focus on the same few brands, though. When you want something more adventurous, you should look further afield.
Whiskies from the four traditional regions can have very different characteristics, but that doesn’t mean someone cannot love all of them. Instead, take a look at some of these uncommon gems and sip a little bit of sunshine.
A journey into peat
The distinct smoky taste of a peaty whisky is the cornerstone of many Islay malts, none more so than Laphroaig. But while the Islay distillery’s signature style may be most whisky lovers’ go to smoky whisky, there is a gem to be found elsewhere on the island.
Bruichladdich’s Octomore 7.4 Virgin Oak Single Malt is an experience. If you like your whiskies smoky, the Octomore will be your Holy Grail. More than 3 times smokier than the average smoky Islay malt, the Octomore was aged in virgin French oak rather than the traditional bourbon or sherry barrels. And as they describe it themselves, it is the iron fist in the velvet glove.
Something special from an old favorite
Far away from the earthy peat of an Islay malt, The Macallan is one of the world’s favorite distilleries. It may lag behind The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich in terms of quantity sold, but their whiskies are loved by many.
And one of their truly special productions is the No.6.
Part of their 1824 series, No.6 comes in its own Lalique crystal decanter, designed to reflect the characteristics of this rich and exclusive whisky. Aged in Spanish sherry, the whisky is imparted with a rich and dark walnut color, classic Macallan character and rich, spicy and fruity flavors perfect for sipping neat or with a dash of water.
Not quite Lost in Translation
It’s Suntory Time. It may not be a scotch, but Japanese distillers have perfected the art of high quality, scotch style single malts and blends. So we had to bend our rules slightly and introduce a Japanese single malt to this list. Specifically the dark amber colored Hakushu 25yo.
When a whisky is as good as this multiple award winner, location can definitely be overlooked. With a nose of plum, caramel and cigar humidor, this whisky leaves no doubt about its luxury. Japan isn’t finished here, either, as they have earned another entry to our list, and this one is definitely an exclusive whisky.
The Joker of the whisky world
Hanyu Ichiro’s Card Series has gained a mythical reputation and now has gained worldwide reputation thanks to its new record as the most expensive series of Japanese whisky ever sold.
Originally a sake maker, Hanyu turned their hand to whisky in the 1940’s, and started to produce whisky based upon Scotch. While the distillery closed down, Ichiro Akuto reopened production with 400 casks rescued from the stock. From them came 54 whiskies.
While the two Jokers are relatively easy to find, the other 52 cards in the series are true collectors items. If you do get your hands on one, you have a rare piece of true whisky royalty.
A nose for whisky
Whichever whisky you choose, it is worth investing in your nose. Yet how can you invest in your nose? French company Le Nez have an interesting solution.
Le Nez du Whisky is a book that explores the aromas and scents of whisky. But it’s not enough to read expert opinion and teachings. So included in the box are 54 aromas to smell as you read, allowing you to train your nose for whisky, perfecting your sense of smell and helping you to understand the process of creating your whisky.
As well as whisky, Le Nez also produce scent books for wine and coffee, so next time you go out for a specialty coffee, you know exactly what you're going to get.
How to display whisky
And once you do get your hands on one of these elegant, exclusive whiskies, you need somewhere to store it that will not only keep it in the best condition, but show off its characteristics.
Christofle’s Iriana Whisky Carafe is a crystal carafe with elegant vertical lines, perfect for reflecting light into the deep color of a quality whisky. And once you have the storage, you need the glasses to match. The whisky tumblers are also perfect whether you’re sipping neat, with a dash or water or a globe of ice.
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”