International Whisky Day: These are the best world whiskies to try now
This Saturday marks International Whisky Day — and not a moment too late. Because, while it may pay to cut down on the drink during lockdown, there are also few things as comforting and calming as a dram of fine single malt scotch.
But wait — this is International Whisky Day, so why should we be confined to the Highlands? Or the Lowlands, Speyside or Islay for that matter? Scotland may be the most famous producer of this delectable dark spirit, but there are plenty of burgeoning bottlers and distilleries springing up and serving whisky the world over. And May 27th is the perfect day to celebrate them.
To that end, we’ve dusted off seven of the finest bottles of non-Scottish scotch aspirants to ever grace a tumbler. These whiskies are not Irish whiskey, they’re not Bourbon and they’re not Rye whiskey. They are created like traditional scotch whiskies. But, from India to Israel, Australia to Sweden, they’re from a little further afield…
As the oldest distillery in India, Rampur is setting a spirited example for an entire nation. Thankfully, with more than 73 years of experience under its Oddiyanams, this non-chill filtered single malt is top notch. What’s more, it is distilled in the foothills of the Himalayas, where wildly differing climate conditions throughout the year give the whisky added dimension and depth. Eat your heart out, Highlands.
On the nose: Rich fruity top note, toffee in the background, floral, honey, dried fruits and hint of spice.
Tasting notes: All round balanced taste with malty and creamy vanilla. Hint of fruits like apricot and apple.
What gives it the Indian touch? Each bottle comes in a luxurious handcrafted silk pouch with Indian heritage embroidery.
Now here’s something to look forward to. Although you may not be able to get hold of a bottle until lockdown lifts, the latest bottling from exciting new northern distillery, Spirit of Yorkshire, sees its celebrated single malt jump between Bourbon and Moscatel sherry barrels for a unique, fresh take on the spirit. And, although this distillery may be the closest to the home of scotch, this innovative take on the traditional may just be the boldest bottle on this list.
On the nose: Floral aromas of orange blossom, jasmine and honeysuckle as well as notes of lime and grapefruit.
Tasting notes: Soft and spicy, with warming notes of honeycomb, orange marmalade, dried fruits and cocoa.
What gives it the Yorkshire touch? It’s got that coastal connection; with the Atlantic sherry barrels affording a distinctive taste to the whisky.
A New World whisky, this Australian offering is a tasty single malt made from 100% Australian barley and matured exclusively in re-coopered and re-sized Apera — a native alternative to sherry — casks. It’s won plenty of awards, and is leading the whisky way in the Southern Hemisphere. Well-rounded, full-bodied and perfectly balanced, it may be from Down Under — but this is no underdog.
On the nose: Raisins, rich caramel and toasted almonds — tempered with a touch of marzipan.
Tasting notes: Jammy, figgy compotes and toasted oak, with winter spice and creme brulée to finish.
What gives it the Australian touch? Those Apera barrels. There’s a sherry-forward sweetness only Australia’s fortified wine could imbue.
World Whisky Day was only formed in 2012 — and Taiwan’s Kavalan whisky distillery hasn’t been around much longer. It first fired up the stills in 2005, and released its first bottling three years later. This, a young but full-flavoured single malt, makes use of the distillery’s tropical location and stuffs it with more exotic notes than you could find in the whole of Scotland.
On the nose: Hints of honey, mango, pear drops and vanilla — with suggestions of chocolate and coconut.
Tasting notes: A shot of tropically sweet mango, with a curveball of spice and an oily citrus finish.
What gives it the Taiwanese touch? That marine tropical climate, which not only offers up the exotic, tropical flavours — but also gives them a sumptuous, rich depth.
Another relative newcomer to the world whisky game, Tel Aviv’s Milk & Honey distillery is the first in Israel. Founded in 2014, this is the first commercially available single malt from the brand — and they have outdone themselves. Ageing whisky in a warm climate is a tricky task — the heat often means that the barrel has too much of a say over the final flavour — but this bottling side-steps that problem, offering oomph without overpowering.
On the nose: Floral red apple notes, followed by a warming vanilla sweetness and a touch of beeswax.
Tasting notes: Vanilla, caramel and honey, balanced by woody notes and light black pepper spiciness.
What gives it the Israeli touch? The influence of that Tel Avivi’n sun. How else could you get so much flavour in a four-year-old whisky?
One of the few blended whiskies we included on this list, Suntory’s lower-end offering is still a tip-top tipple. Created using spirit from the brand’s Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries, this blend uses the same techniques that founder Shinjiro Torii learned from Western whiskymakers over 100 years ago. It’s the ideal scotch-style whisky with which to try out Japan’s favoured serve; the whisky highball.
On the nose: Green apple, honey and hints of basil, thyme and even peppermint.
Tasting notes: Fresh grapefruit and green grapes, with toasted almonds and vanilla oak notes.
What gives it the Japanese touch? The blend of spicy grain and traditional malt whiskies, giving it a curious finish of white pepper and ginger.
Take a moment and try to imagine what a Swedish whisky would taste like. Picture the Scandi nation’s sweet Christmas markets, its untamed wilderness and dark, cosy winter nights. Got it? Well that’s exactly what Mack by Mackmyra tastes like. An artisanal single malt created using only native ingredients, this is a winter festival in a bottle — with a handsome caramel colour to boot.
On the nose: Vanilla, boiled sweets and soft berries, with pear drops and spicy caramel.
Tasting notes: Sugar, vanilla, spice and anything else you’d whack in a Christmas cookie.
What gives it the Swedish touch? It’s no-nonsense versatility. Yes, it may be ideal for winter — but toss a dram over some ice this weekend and it’ll also be the ideal drink with which to toast World Whisky Day.