With the price of some single malt Scotch reaching dizzying heights, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the best whiskies must be the most expensive….in fact nothing could be further from the truth!
Whisky lovers around the world are now routinely searching for great quality drams that offer better value and incredibly unique flavours. This demand has been met by some seriously innovative whiskies from traditional whisky producing nations such as Canada, Ireland and the U.S. In addition, you may have noticed English, Welsh, Swedish, Indian & Taiwanese whisky slowly appearing in shops and bars across the UK as horizons broaden. The growing popularity of these whiskies is no fluke. They’re gaining accolades from top critics and scooping up numerous awards along the way.
Excitement builds each November ahead of the publication of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, which last year famously named Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 as their winner. This year not one Scottish whisky made the top 5. The coveted top prize was taken by Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye from Canada, followed closely by whiskies from the U.S, Ireland & Japan.
Here at The Good Wine Shop we like to keep our ear to the ground and seek out the best offerings from the ever evolving world of Whisky. Below are just a small selection of some of the ‘new kids on the block’ who are making a stir in the whisky world
Mackmyra Brukswhisky, 41.4%, Gävle, Sweden
Swedish whisky may be new to most of you reading this article but for a number of years now it has been gaining a fantastic reputation internationally. Awarded a gold medal as ‘Best in Class’ at the annual International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in 2010, Mackmyra has been making waves ever since. This is a wonderfully light and fruity style of whisky reminiscent of Speyside. The nose is clean with light, spicy notes of Swedish peat and juniper. On the palate there are hints of butterscotch, citrus and pear. Mackmyra is very approachable and great for those who like their whisky on the lighter side.
Nikka Coffey Grain, 45%, Miyagikyo, Japan
Nikka operate two coffey stills (both of which were imported from Scotland in 1963). They reside at their Miyagikyo distillery and are used to produce grain whisky for their house blends. This coffey still yields a greater depth of flavour than modern column stills used by other distilleries. As a result Nikka coffey grain has an exotic, fruity characteristic which has caught the imagination of whisky drinkers around the globe. Nikka coffey grain is distilled mainly from corn and is a unique dram if ever there was one. Whisky Advocate voted this dram as #9 in their recent 2015 whisky review with a score of 92/100. It’s a great example of Japanese whisky making at its finest.
High West Whiskey, Double Rye, 46%, Park City, Utah, U.S.A.
High West is Utah’s first distillery since 1870 and opened its doors in 2007. Rye whiskey has become increasingly popular over the past few years and this Double Rye certainly doesn’t disappoint. A blend of mature 16 year old rye and a fresher, spicier 2 year old rye, High West is surprisingly light, floral and honeyed on the nose yet driven by dry and spicy, peppery flavours on the palate. There is a small proportion of corn in the mash bill which adds some sweetness to balance the blend. If you have enjoyed Rye whiskey in the past and are looking for something unique then look no further!
Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch Rum Cask Finish, 46%, Dublin, Ireland
Irish whiskey has been going through a bit of a renaissance in recent years, perhaps in part due to its major stylistic difference to Scotch. Irish whiskey is mostly triple distilled and peat is rarely used, resulting in a style which is lighter and smoother in nature. Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing spirit in the world with numerous distilleries opening in the last decade. Teeling Whiskey, with a heritage stretching back to 1782, have recently opened Dublin’s first distillery in over 100 years. This is a wonderfully smooth whiskey with a rich palate of vanilla, caramel, cinnamon and orange blossom. This small batch whiskey is incredibly versatile and is great for mixing in long drinks.
These are exciting times in the whisk(e)y world and we’re constantly tasting, scoring and exploring the latest arrivals on the scene so that we can offer our customers something unique. So, the next time you’re looking to pick up a winter warmer we invite you to be adventurous and spread your whisky wings.