Does it annoy you that most whisky commentary is about whiskies that you and I can’t afford or are never likely to see? And that the desire for whisky writers to focus on the most elitist malts is so infectious that one whisky writer who somewhat risibly has started promoting himself as the voice of normal people included a bonus whisky in his new book that retails at an eye-watering £100,000.
Despite that same writer’s snide accusations, the Whisky Shop has always been about offering a wide, intelligent and quality choice to people at all price levels, and about remembering that most customers aren’t interested in spending hundreds of pounds on a bottle of spirits.
That’s where Old Flames comes in. We think it is right to return to basics and highlight the many whiskies that are world class, taste great, but have been forgotten in the rush to taste the latest Glen Sexy 72 Year Old finished in diamond encrusted outer Mongolian 500 year old mountain oak.
Old Flames is a back to basics look at some of the heavyweight heroes which while not actually unsung, may have been overlooked a little in the current faddy whisky rush.
If you’re new to whisky, then each week we’ll pick a whisky which is fully recommended by The Whisky Shop team and I. If you’re an old hand, our advice is step back, pour a dram of your whisky of choice, find a quiet space or a darkened room, maybe put on a favourite piece of music from years gone by, and reacquaint yourself with what may well have been one of your first loves. Rediscover what excited you about an Old Flame. Share a moment. Make friends again. Feels good, doesn’t it?
If you’re new to whisky, then each week join me as we go a journey through a malt whisky greatest hits package. Every one of these choices comes thoroughly recommended and won’t break the bank.
Peat, peat, peat….oh for peat’s sake!
Now i don’t need to convince anyone of my passionate and undying love of growly, smoky whisky. It’s well documented that I like my whisky like I like my music and my sport… very hard and very heavy, but with a kind, sweet soul. Don’t tickle me with a feather, slap me with a big smoky kipper please!
But if variety is the spice of life, then just as equally too much chili pepper will cause mouth burn and make any attempt at variety nigh impossible.
And this is just as true of peated whisky. When the smoke makes you choke and the peat turns up the heat, then it’s time from a fruity soft Lowlander, a zesty citrus Speysider or a rich fruity Highland treat.
Or you could take the middle option – why not have your cake and peat it. Not sure which option to turn to? Well why not find a whisky that does the lot?
Whisky drinking is subjective, and in the field of single malt Scotch more than most areas there is no real right or wrong and everyone has a right to a view as to what is good or not. But if you wanted to construct an objective argument for what is the very best malt, you could do a lot worse than Highland Park.
Why? Because while some whiskies are big on peat, or big on fruit, or big on honey, or big on oak, or big on spice, Highland Park is whisky’s Ian Botham, a great all rounder that metaphorically bats, bowls and fields with vim and gusto. It is, to quote one of my current favourite rock bands, a Little Bit of Everything.
No, that’s wrong. It’s a BIG bit of everything. This is no shrinking violet – the honey and oak come over like a toasted honey sandwich plastered together by a five year old, the fruit squidges and squelches like you’re squashing over-ripe peaches, the spice flits in and out of the taste like an over-busy bee, and the peat? Well suffice to say, the amps are turned up loud enough to make even this old rocker happy.
Highland Park 12 is a cracker but there’s something more, too: it’s getting better. Little is said about the organic and evolving nature of malt whisky but every batch is different to the last. the owners of Highland Park have a disproportionate number of sherry casks and unlike pretty much everyone else, they’re in a position to use more and more of them. So this whisky is getting darker, more sherried and fuller in rich fruity flavours. This is a good thing.
If you haven’t tried this for three for four years, then get yourself down to one of our shops to revisit it.
You may not remember it tasting so good – possibly because it didn’t.
It was great then – and even better now.