Best Buy Whisky
Whisky is, more often than not, best enjoyed neat. But it's a matter of preference; sometimes you need a neat Islay dram after a long day, sometimes you want to enjoy a long drink of Irish malt over ice. We've pointed out the whiskies best enjoyed with a little something extra.
best buy whisky
Here are our top whiskies to order online for that special someone in your life. For more, visit our reviews section and find over 200 practical buyer's guides including taste tests of gin, vodka, rum, brandy and more, plus gift guides like the best letterbox gifts to order online.
Nikka are one half of an indomitable pair of distilleries in Japan that have been at the peak of the Far East whisky market for decades. The Yoichi single malt is Nikka's greatest success; the bottle leans into Nikka's Scottish inspiration without being contrived, while bursting with their uniquely Japanese flavour profile. On the nose it's delicately balanced, matching peat and tropical fruit, and a complex palate follows the same formula with added nuts. Ideal for a young whisky buff.
Take a trip to Speyside with this opulent, flavourful addition from Balvenie. Expect rich milk chocolate on the palate, with fresh raspberry, warming cinnamon and a hint of spicy black pepper to finish. Every true whisky connoisseur could do with a bottle of this special single malt on their shelves.
Lagavulin's 16-year-old expression is a titan of the industry. One of the world's most popular single malts, this whisky is a go-to at local pubs and enjoyed by the rich and famous. Definitive of the Islay region, imposing smoky notes are tempered by a rich sweetness. For the whisky geek in your life.
Once upon a time this whiskey was exclusively sold in Mitchell's grocers in Dublin. The bottle is now much adored throughout the world and in 2018 was awarded 'liquid gold' status by Jim Murray in his respected whisky bible. This whiskey is a supremely sippable, stubbornly Irish celebration of caramel and fruit. Give this one to any newbies or theatre geeks, any stage enthusiasts are sure to be bowled over by the company this whiskey keeps.
A scotch that packs in spice and sea spray. Pulteney is an environmentally conscious distillery based in the Scottish coastal town of Wick. Its whiskies are unmistakably born at sea; they burst with salty sea air and the bracing freshness that comes as a result. Its 15-year-old expression is no exception; salinity is balanced with delicate vanilla and warming spices, matched by sweet toffee and light floral flavours. A whisky bursting with character and flavour. Buy this bottle for the whisky drinking eco-warrior in your circle.
Peaty, without overpowering, this whisky offers up hearty bonfire smoke, sweet paprika and lapsang souchong tea, alongside honey and caramelised citrus zest. The beautiful balance of sweet and savoury makes this a great option for those looking to embark on peated whiskies.
Are you looking for the best whisky to buy? Or do you want to know more about how to choose the finest whisky for your budget? We've got all the information you need to make an informed decision, whatever your preferences.
Whisky (or, in Ireland, whiskey) has long been a popular tipple in the British Isles and Ireland, with a history dating back to at least the 15th century. Empire and emigration took the spirit worldwide and whisky is now globally popular in three distinct types: peaty, double-distilled Scotch whisky; lighter, triple-distilled Irish whiskey; and the sweeter bourbon-style whiskies produced in the US.
The most commonly-produced is blended whisky, made from a mix of malt and grain spirits. Since single malt whisky is labour-intensive and expensive to produce, blending with a grain generally results in a cheaper product. The addition of the lighter grain whisky also creates a smoother, less complex flavour that some may prefer, and that can be good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.
You might encounter single or blended malts in cask strength, which means the whisky is bottled straight from the cask it was matured in without being diluted. Cask-strength whiskies are typically around 60-65% alcohol by volume (compared to around 40% for a typical diluted whisky) and should always be drunk with water.
Single or blended malt whisky in the Scotch style has a complex, full-bodied flavour ideal for sophisticated sipping. The flavour notes of a single malt Scotch vary from astringent to almost caramel. A peated malt (made by drying the barley over a peat fire) will have a smoky, almost chewy flavour that can be a bit of an acquired taste.
American-style grain whisky produced using corn has a sweeter, somewhat heavier flavour than either single malt or blended whisky. Bourbon, rye and Tennessee mash are all good party drinks, make excellent long drinks (JD and Coke being the best known), and are the basis of popular cocktails including the Manhattan and Old Fashioned.
This mysterious brand is produced at an unnamed distillery somewhere in Speyside and the result is an outrageously drinkable whisky. It may only be an 8 year old single malt whisky at its core, but those eight years have been spent maturing in bourbon barrels and then followed with a further three months in deliberately bijou octave Oloroso sherry casks to imbue as much complexity and flavour as possible.
The sherry influence isn't quite as intense as with some whiskies we've tasted, but the result is impossible to dislike. There's a rich, vibrant surge of flavour bursting with sherry, spice, orange peel and amaretto, all underpinned with a gentle sweetness which results in a whisky that's dangerously drinkable. For the money, it's one of our favourites - and a stunning dram to boot.
With more than 130 distilleries in Scotland, variation in the production process is key to Scotch's appeal and there's a near-limitless pool of options for drinkers to find what suits them best. Nevertheless, malt whisky distillation is a disarmingly straightforward formula, using only barley, pure Scottish water and yeast. Single malt Scotch is usually double distilled in a pot still, the shape of which contributes to the end flavour, hence distilleries are highly protective of their stills. The legal definition of Scotch includes a requirement that it undergoes a maturation period of at least three years. Of course, many single malt Scotch whiskies are treasured entries in the pantheon, but more than 90 per cent of Scotches are blended malts, combined by the masters from a curated selection of single malts.
We couldn't list our favourite Scotch cocktails without starting with the Rob Roy, named after the famous Scottish folk hero. Made with sweet vermouth and bitters, it's been described by comedian James Acaster as what he imagines whisky should taste like (his words, not ours; don't @ us, purists). Many Scotches make for a great whisky sour, too: experimenting with different bottles and the ratio of Scotch to lemon juice is almost as fun as drinking it. Lastly, we wouldn't be GQ if we didn't mention the Old Fashioned. Although it's typically a bourbon-based cocktail, the smoky profile of some Scotches is a great foil for the sweetness of sugar and the bitters. For the smokiest Smokey Old Fashioned, look to Laphroaig's famous ten-year-old.
Almost every distillery offers its own premium bottle, usually a Scotch that has been brooding quietly in casks in a dusty corner for several decades. Some are released as special limited editions, others come with seriously high price tags. In the end, one man's golden nectar might not do it for another. The best way to find out which bottle is really worth your investment is to plan a holiday around visiting distilleries and sample, sample, sample. But if you really pushed us to give you our personal answer, we'd make The Dalmore the first stop on your tour. That grand stag's head metal decal on every bottle means these are not just Scotches to drink, but to put front and centre in your drinks cabinet. And, no, you don't need to stump up the 200,000 it costs to buy its Decades collection. At 62, 12 Year Old is a less eye-watering way in to high-end Scotch.
Tasting notes: With a character defined by richness and depth, expect sugared almonds, baking spices and the sweetness of passion fruit and guava on the nose. A taste of exotic syruped fruits, patisserie sugars, brioche and spices with soft hints of berry fruits follows. And then a soft spice, cacao and natural vanilla forms the finish. 165. thewhiskyexchange.com
Tasting notes: Tomatin's three-strong Portuguese Collection comprises a Moscatel, Madeira and this Port Edition. Here, the initial aroma of Black Forest gateau opens up into warm spices that develop further into fresh summer fruits. The taste is deep with forest fruits: blackberries, raspberries and cherries, but the sweeter notes of peach and apricot return on the finish. Tomatin's Highlands distillery is open to visitors and located less than 30 minutes' drive from Inverness. 87. At thewhiskyexchange.com
Tasting notes: The distinctive rich and exotic character is not overpowered by the French oak maturation process, resulting in a uniquely pleasing spiciness. Creamy, rich and buttery on the nose, there are hints of fruit and nut on the palate leading to sweeter fruits and delicate spice before finishing with lingering sweet almond and yet more spice. 50. At thewhiskyexchange.com
Tasting notes: A relative newbie to the Scotch scene, this small-batch whisky still is a high contender when it comes to flavour. Unconventional compared to what you might expect from a Skye whisky, it has a tamed ruggedness. The subtle smokiness on the palette has no signs of the medicinal characteristics you would anticipate from a peated whiskey. Instead, you can expect bursts of well-tempered, warming vanilla and black cracked pepper. 51. At waitrosecellar.com 041b061a72