St Andrew’s Day is a great excuse to raise a glass to Scotland’s patron saint and experiment with the country’s most seductive export.
The northern Highlands are home to rare vintage malts such as Balblair Vintage 1999 2nd Release Highland Single Malt (£69, 70cl, www.whiskyshop.com). Made from barley, the sole grain in a Scotch malt, it’s matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks and the Balblair vintages (the previous was the award-winning Vintage 1997) are unique, distinctive and complex. Rich, honey aromas, fruit cake and spice on the palate with notes of toffee apple, vanilla and a gentle, warm, spicy finish.
MASTER OF THE GLEN
A classic Speyside malt that’s light and fruity, Glen Moray Single Malt 10 Year Old Chardonnay Cask (£25, 70cl, Sainsbury’s) is aged in ex-chardonnay casks which held Chablis and could definitely encourage more women to order a dram. Elegant and fruity with heather, honey and pears leading to caramelised fruit and butterscotch, a dash of still water will increase the aromas and complement the flowery finish and notes of toasted oak.
A Speyside malt named after a peat harvesting tool, Ancnoc Cutter (£55, 70cl, Oddbins) - pronounced a-noc – is the latest release from Knockdhu distillery. This heavily peated whisky is harvested by a cutter used to take the peat from the shallow bogs before it’s laid on the bank to dry, burn and then smoulder into a delicious Scotch with plenty of smoke. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, it has a woody, vanilla, toffee nose, with savoury smoky notes, dried fruit, and a hint of peatiness with more traces of smoke on the palate.