There’s many lists, I know. But they’re all crap. They either have agendas or have been written by writers who’s only experience with this wonderful spirit has been watching YouTube videos on how to correctly pronounce the names of different whiskies.
I am the real deal. I’ve come up the ranks the hard way. I’ve been young and inexperienced and nearly poisoned my self by drinking an entire bottle of Vat 69 in under 10 minutes in one of the stupidest dares I have ever accepted. I have bought expensive whisky and been thoroughly disappointed. I’ve bought cheap whisky and been wonderfully surprised. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks.
If you’re young, broke – well, somewhat broke cuz whisky aint cheap bro – and have a dream then these 10 whiskies are the ones for you to take on.
My criteria is simple. Cheap(ish). Easy to find. Lovely.
In no particular order :
One of the better mass produced blends out there. Genuinely consistent quality. Price hasn’t seen the stars. Sweet, wonderful flavours of toffee, butterscotch, milk chocolate and the tiniest tinge of smoke. Quality whisky that can be had straight, with ice, a dash of water or dunked in a cocktail. Available at every Duty Free in the world. If you don’t buy this you’re stupid.
Price : £52 / US$64
Similar to the Chivas Regal 18 this is another wonderful mass produced blend. A step up from it’s younger brother (the Black) this one has a much more sweeter profile which works better with the smokiness that the Caol Ila brings (Johnnie Walker’s main component is Caol Ila – the Islay single malt known for it’s restrained smokey flavours). Good whisky this. I prefer it straight. I don’t mind it with some ice. Water kills it, in my opinion and doesn’t make for very good cocktails. Another one to have on the shelf if you’ve run out of the Chivas 18. Once again available at every single Duty Free in the world.
Price : £36 / US$44
If you have’t tried this whisky then I have no idea which planet you’ve been living on for the last 10 years. Or have you been avoiding it because it’s too peaty? Well, then you don’t deserve to be drinking whisky. This is the best value for money single malt out there. It is also one of the best regardless of how cheap it is. Citrus, ash and a gentle smoke have made this a firm favourite among connoisseurs and newbies alike. This is Arbdeg’s greatest gift to the world. After that is Jackie (she runs the visitor centre at the distillery). Drink it straight like I do or drop an ice cube if the sun is still shining overhead. That’s it. If you don’t have this on your shelf I’m going to give you 48 hours to get off your ass and correct this mistake.
Price : £43 / US$53
You probably drink single malt whisky today because of Glenfiddich. If it wasn’t for them you’d still be proudly displaying large bottles of Grey Goose at your club table in the hopes of attracting young women instead of sitting with like minded friends at a whisky tasting and dissecting the finer nuances of this lovely spirit. They have put single malt whisky in the hands of so many people crack dealers go to them for sales advice. To have the most consistently above average mass produced single malt whisky is no small feat. And this fifteen year old is a testament to that. I won’t explain the Solera vatting system to you or your brains will explode. I’ll just remind you that the next time you’re picking up Peach Schnapps for your whiney girlfriend pick up a bottle of this. Blood oranges, almonds and dark chocolate will help you cope with her mood swings. Drink it straight, there’s no need for water. It’s 40% ABV. Any lower and you might as well drink breast milk. You fucking baby.
Price : £31 / US$38
If it wasn’t for this whisky I might still be drinking Jack & Coke and proudly calling my self a whisky drinker. This is the ultimate first dram of the day whisky. Sweet, smooth & uncomplicated. When I’ve come back from work having closely avoided mowing down my co-workers with an M-16 this is the dram I turn to. Unlike my wife it doesn’t ask me too many damn questions. It knows what I want from it and it delivers. Tender, sweet flavours without taxing my brain. Once again there’s no need to mix this with anything. Have it straight like I do.
Price : £31 / US$38
The last of the great Taliskers. Most of the new ones, named after severe weather conditions, are pretty shit. Don’t bother with those. Get this. It’s 10 years old. Belies it’s age. As any good, young whisky should. Has a nice sharp bite. You’ll get used to that if you aren’t already. Rather like S&M. Hurts a little in the beginning but then becomes an addiction despite the pain. In fact the pain actually releases endorphins and triggers the pleasure cells. Or so I’ve heard. Are we still talking about whisky? I think so. Swirling smoke and citrus give this one a winter morning crispness. Available every where so you don’t really have an excuse.
Price : £28 / US$34
OK, so maybe not as easy to find as the others on this list but still widely available without being a unicorn. It’s from India. And it’s tasty as fuck. When I first heard of it I almost went insane finding a bottle (that was early days when it had just launched and hadn’t reached cult status yet). And when I finally did it was like making out with your crush of ten years. The satisfaction was unreal. This whisky is pretty much close to being perfect. In fact most from this distillery are. And the best part is they will experiment worse than Emmet Brown from Back To The Future. Barley from different countries, maturations on different continents, five flavour staves in one bloody cask. They’re the mad scientists of the whisky industry but instead of blowing shit up they blow our minds (and taste buds).
Price : £41 / US$53
This is the best whisky you will ever taste in your life. It is fucking beautiful. I had no idea it existed until I went to buy it’s weaker brother – the 10 year old at 43%. I noticed this sitting next to that one and thought Hmmmmm, same age but with a far more fiery temperament? What a no brainer. This one comes in at a lovely 57% ABV. Full of tasty tobacco, earthy peat and dark chocolate. I remember drinking this for the first time and thinking OK, I’m done – no need to accomplish anything more in life. This one is just staggeringly good. The flavour profile is a nod to the bygone era of Speyside whisky-making complete with coal-like peat. When you’ve accomplished something in life and want to feel good about your self come home and open this bottle, sit down by yourself, light up a cigar and feel the world thank you for your existence.
Price: £37 / US$45
If you want to feel like a man (or a woman – I don’t care) then this highly divisive whisky is the one for you. If you want someone who’s never had whisky to hate whisky then give them a cup of this in the morning. I guarantee they’ll either slip into a coma or refuse another dram for the remainder of their lives. For the rest of us this whisky is the bomb. Densely packed flavours of iodine, seaweed, salty fishnets, burning embers and vanilla sweetness transport you to the rough and stormy flavours that is Islay. Matured in a smaller cask to pack in more flavours this is a cult classic and many a weathered whisky drinker swears by this dram. As do I.
Price : £41 / US$50
Did you really think so? What an idiot.