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Saturday, 5 January 2013

Whiskies for Burns Night

Bunnahabhain Bay and Distillery
Earlier today, I chatted with Alan Alder on Cambridge105 about whisky and my recommendations for holding a Burns Night whisky tasting.

If you missed the programme broadcast live, it will be available on podcast shortly; I started by explaining that whisky is not so much influenced by its place of origin as much as the process by which it is made, albeit the various regions have their own "house styles".

To find out more about these, you'll need to listen to the programme, but it's safe to say that Speyside is the Cognac of malts whilst Islay whiskies are the “wildest” and “hairiest”.

If you are only having one whisky for the evening, then it needs to be quite versatile as it's going to have to suit all tastes across a whole evening, but if you want to try a range of styles and don't want the expense of buying lots of bottles, a really good idea is a set of miniatures in different styles.

Colin Hampden-White very kindly came up with this idea and suggested the Classic Malts miniatures collection from Whisky Exchange, whilst Fiona Beckett suggests Master of Malt for miniatures.

If you want to shop locally, though, Bacchanalia do a set of three miniatures from Springbank for £30, but my suggestion is simply to go to Cambridge Wine Merchants who have a huge range of around 350 whiskies.

Good All-Rounders
Bunnahabhain 12yo Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky £34.99 Islay malt in a suit and tie, sophisticated, clean, pure and strangely juicy. The water source is a fresh granite spring, and their barley is barely peated. Consequently the whisky, though obviously island in style, supports a complex flavour range without too much peatiness

Benromach 10yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky £30 rich and fruity, with sweet chocolate and delicate spicy aromas. Complex Speyside style – finished in Sherry casks

Something more special
Blair Athol 12yo Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky £45 a wonderful deep colour, like a conker. Tastes like burnt raisins. Sherry cask from new. Big, deep, dark, brooding, and rather rare.

Edradour 10yo Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky £38 A ‘cult’ whisky. Nestled in a charming rural spot near Pitlochry, this is the smallest distillery in mainland Scotland. Just three men work here. Gentle and fine with distinctive toffee, nutty and vanilla notes

Caol Ila 2000 Cask Strength Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 61.4% £58 Authentic, balanced and complex.

Bunnahabhain 12yo Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 46% 5cl £4
Ardbeg 10yo 5cl £5.75
Glenlivet 18yo 43% 5cl £5.75

Cambridge Wine Merchants have just brought out a guide to whiskies - normally free with any whisky purchase, Cambridge105 listeners can get a copy just by mentioning the programme - although, with its lovely shots of rugged distilleries, I defy anyone to get a copy and not want to try some of the whiskies in there.

Other related articles
A Wee Dram on Burns Night
Mill Road Winter Fair And A Glenfiddich Tasting

Image credit: http://www.islayinfo.com/islay-pictures-wallpaper/bunnahabhain_bay_1280x859.html

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