What better way to celebrate another year ending than with a round of our top whiskies from 2018.
This list is not extensive and there are so many more we could have included here, but these are some of the new releases that we thought needed to be mentioned again.
Many have been brought out to commemorate something, be it an anniversary of the history of the brand, and others are just celebrations of Whisky itself.
Either way, dive in and get to know our top whiskies of 2018!
Brought out for the Special Releases range from Diageo, Cladach is a blend made up of only coastal distilleries, including Oban, Inchgower, CaolIla, Talisker, Lagavulin and Clynelish. It is sweet on the nose, with lots of citrus fruits and oak wood. There is a lovely smoky note throughout, which really helps to bring the sweeter flavours to the fore. This is an excellent blend that captures the heart of Diageo’s coastal distilleries.
A celebration of Orkney, this dram commemorates the history of the island. It is a fantastic dram, we we’ve come to expect from Highland Park. The body is soft and floral, with a gentle orange and vanilla sweetness. Peat smoke appears and gives it a lovely earthy aroma. Honey, orchard fruits and raisins add a nice crispness to the overall flavour. A really great release and perfect for any Whisky enthusiast’s Christmas stocking.
One of the lesser known Japanese brands, Ichiro’s are making really exciting malts, and their Wood Reserve is no exception. Matured in Japanese oak, or Mizunara, this dram is full of delicate floral notes and a lovely smooth honeyed sweetness. It is a refreshing malt, with a big character and a well rounded body. This is a malt to buy someone who really loves their Whisky, especially someone who wants to take a deep delve into world Whiskies. The flavours work in harmony together and the gentle Japanese oak is excellent.
Translating to “rare cask” in Gaelic, this dram has been crafted from the most sherried sherry casks around. That is, they’ve been matured in Spanish oak oloroso sherry casks. Full of spice, dried fruits and honey, this is like Christmas in a bottle, and is an amazing dram regardless of your feelings towards sherry. the Whisky is an excellent quality, with a smooth mouth feel and rich flavour profile. The sherry is warming and homely, and not one to miss out on. Also, if you own one of these, you will be able to see from the etched bottle code that it was bottled on my birthday, which is nice.
Released as part of a range honouring the Duiriachs, or the residents of the isle of Jura, this malt is wonderfully put together. It is the final release of the range, which consists of One for the Road, One for All and finally, One for You. The nose begins with sweet honey and rich dried fruits. Sweet nuts and marzipan appear on the palate, and it brims with caramel and oak wood. It is perfectly balanced and every flavour works. Capturing the Jura spirit in a bottle, One for You is a true celebration of the island and its inhabitants.
This year’s Ardbeg Day release, Grooves celebrates the Summer of Love and the swinging 60s. It has been matured in re-toasted red wine casks. The name, Grooves, refers to more than just the 60s, it is also a reference to the deep charcoal canyons made in the wood after it has been charred. This brings out lots of sweet caramel and vanilla notes, which come alive against the tart red wine notes. The peat smoke that is Ardbeg’s calling card, also shines through and is given a lovely sweet backdrop. There is also a wonderful seaside note that plays throughout. It is full of brine and sea air. This is an impressive release from Ardbeg and the perfect celebration of their history.
Jameson is some of the finest whiskey around, and you can always count on them being innovative and exciting. This release celebrates their first distillery at Bow Street in Dublin. It has been matured in sherry and bourbon casks, giving it a subtle sweetness and spice. Sweet nuts, dried fruits and malted grains all come though, with a lovely warmth from cinnamon and cloves. Perfect for sitting in front of the fire and enjoying on Christmas day.
A truly great whisky, this Bourbon celebrates the history of Old Forester. It is a remake of the malt that the brand used to create in the 1920s, when prohibition was in full swing. It is dark and sweet, overflowing with caramel, oak and bitter coffee. The tart flavours bounce off the sweeter notes, which are well rounded and luxurious. Malted grains and oak wood lend a slightly duller tone that is still delicious. This is a really fantastic dram to add to your Whisky collection at any time of year.
The Double Single poses the answer to the question, how many Scotches does it take to make a really good blend. And that answer is apparently just two. The Double Single has been made from 72% is Glen Elgin malt from re-charred ex-Bourbon hogsheads, and 28% is Girvan grain malt also from re-charred ex-Bourbon hogsheads. If that seems like a lot of information, that’s because Compass Box like to be as transparent as possible, so you get the best out of your dram. This malt opens with sweet notes of caramel and cream, with a note of sea salt coming in. Pecans, oak wood and citrus fruits also come out, making for an interesting and well-rounded dram.
The final release in the Peaty Collection from AnCnoc Distillery, this malt is exceptional. The collection itself has been released to explore the peated malts from a distillery that typically creates light, floral drams. Peatheart overflows with fruits of all kinds, from apples, pears to raisins and oranges. The peat smoke is rich and thick, with a wonderful earthy note. It goes hand in hand with the lighter floral blossom finish.