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The C&TH Guide to Whiskey

Food & Drink /

The C&TH Guide to Whiskey

As it's World Whiskey Day, we thought's we'd celebrate accordingly...


Why not celebrate World Whiskey Day on Saturday 20th May with a wee dram or two?

Distilleries and Whiskies

 Glenmorangie Bacalta

Glenmorangie Distillery 

Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky originates in the Scottish Highlands where, at the Glenmorangie Distillery, it is distilled in the tallest malt whisky stills in Scotland for a purer spirit, expertly matured in the finest oak casks for great depth, and perfected by the Men of Tain.  The Distillery was founded in 1843 and is renowned as a pioneer in its field, uniting tradition with innovation.

Why not try …

Glenmorangie Bacalta

Glenmorangie’s Bacalta whisky, launched earlier this year, is the eighth annual release in its Private Edition range. Scots Gaelic for ‘baked’, Bacalta is the first Glenmorangie expression finished entirely in sun-baked Malmsey Madeira casks.

Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks arranged for bespoke American oak casks to be created and heavily toasted. The casks were then seasoned to his exacting specifications by Malmsey wine – the sweetest and most prized of the Madeira wines –  and baked to maturity within as the casks lay in the heat of Madeira’s sun. Emptied, shipped to Scotland and filled with specially selected spirit – already matured in ex-bourbon barrels – the Malmsey casks lend complex layers of sweetness to Glenmorangie Bacalta.

Dr Bill said; ‘For years I had longed to create the best Madeira-finished whisky possible. Realising that ambition took time and dedication, as every step of extra-maturation was tailored exactly to our specifications – rather like haute couture. Connoisseurs will recognise the radiating warmth of our bespoke sun-baked casks in Glenmorangie Bacalta’s aromas of ripe apricots, white chocolate and mineral notes.  There are complex tastes of mint toffee, baked fruits, honeycomb, almonds and dates, mingling with marzipan, white pepper and melon – and a rich, syrupy finish.  Glenmorangie Bacalta is a burst of sunshine in a glass.’

 Glenmorangie Bacalta is available from specialist whisky shops and online at £79.

Why not try …

Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1990 

Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1990, launched in December, is the first release in the Distillery’s new vintage collection: Bond House No 1. This exclusive collection of limited releases explores the unique origins of Glenmorangie’s most prestigious parcels of aged whisky, each distilled in a single year.

Dr Bill Lumsden says, ‘The Bond House No 1 collection gives connoisseurs a unique opportunity to explore the individuality each year has lent our award-winning spirit. I’m delighted that Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1990 will launch the collection. Even today, few can explain how a spirit so delicious could emerge from a barley crop of such challenges.  Combined with a quarter-century of Glenmorangie’s exceptional cask expertise, its finesse and vibrancy has been preserved through the ages, to create a whisky brimming with aromas of heather honey, mandarin and candied fruits and tastes of orange syrup and vanilla, zesty, herbal top notes, baked apples and brown sugar.’

Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1990 is available in limited quantities now from selected specialist retailers£495.

Balcones Distillery

 It all started with an old welding shop under a bridge in Waco, Texas. Since then, Balcones Distilling has released 12 unique products, many of which are now internationally renowned award winning whiskies.

100% of Balcones whisky is mashed, fermented and distilled at the distillery, to ensure the finest quality and craftsmanship can be found in every bottle. They never resell whisky from other distilleries or source aged whisky barrels for blending under the Balcones label. This is authentic craft whisky.  

Why not try …

Balcones Baby Blue

Baby Blue Balcones

Baby Blue is a true Texas original and the very first expression ever released by Balcones. Crafted from 100% roasted heirloom blue corn, this rich and oily maze was Texas’ first whisky on the market since Prohibition.

It is intentionally youthful with a round nuttiness, roasted overtones and refined complexity. Bottled at 46% ABV and non-chill filtered, it has a viscous mouth feel with a soft finish – a perfect dram for those who are new to whisky or looking for an American whisky that is totally unique!

This expression was created to showcase the interesting flavour and texture of Blue Corn, rather than just masking it with heavy wood flavours, that you might expect to find in Bourbon. A true taste of Texas using a special regional ingredient.

Available here for £72.95.

Why not try …

Balcones ‘1’ Texas Single Malt

For those looking for more of a single malt style of whisky, then look no further than ‘1’ Texas Single Malt.  It breathes new life into centuries of distilling tradition with classic techniques and ingredients. It is made using traditional Golden Promise malted barley from Scotland, that is brought to Texas – distilled and aged at Balcones Distillery in Waco.

It is a nod to how single malt is produced in Scotland, taking on a style similar to that of a Speyside single malt, but with a special Balcones Texas twist.

It has aromas of toffee and overripe fruits with layers of toasted malt and honey with mellow notes of baked pears and apples. Bottled at 53% ABV, it is also Balcones’ most awarded and celebrated whisky, having won over 70 awards internationally!

Available here for £94.95.

Ardbeg Distillery 

Ardbeg Distillery

Ardbeg is The Ultimate Islay Single Malt Whisky.  Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered by connoisseurs around the world as the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts.  Despite its smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as ‘the peaty paradox’.

Why not try …

Ardbeg 10 Years Old

Ardbeg Ten Years Old is revered around the world as the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malt of them all. Yet it does not flaunt the peat; rather it gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt to produce a whisky of perfect balance.

Typically most whiskies are chill-filtered and reduced to a strength of 40% ABV. Ardbeg Ten Years Old, however, is non-chill-filtered and has a strength of 46% ABV, thus retaining maximum flavour, at the same time giving more body and added depth. It’s whisky with none of the goodness taken out and it was named World Whisky of the Year in 2008.

Available here for £42. 

Why not try …

Ardbeg Kelpie

Here’s a new Ardbeg whisky to look out for but it’s not available until Ardbeg Day on 3rd June so why not add it to your Father’s Day gift list.

Ardbeg Kelpie, a new celebratory Limited Edition expression named after the legendary water demon that is said to lurk in the Atlantic Ocean off Islay’s shores, is the first Ardbeg to be matured in Virgin Black Sea oak casks.  Renowned for the deep flavours that they impart and rarely used in whisky making – these casks bring a distinct intensity to the world’s smokiest, peatiest Islay malt whisky.

Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks, in his continuing search for intriguing casks, was inspired by the depth of flavour imparted by the Black Sea casks. Grown and seasoned in the Adyghe Republic, which leads down to the Black Sea coast, these casks impart incredibly deep flavours.

The whisky was then married with hallmark Ardbeg, matured in ex-bourbon barrels, to amplify Ardbeg’s characteristic style and create a whisky of incredible depth.

Distillery Manager Michael (Mickey) Heads said: ‘With a heart matured in Black Sea casks, this whisky’s extraordinary depth and its waves of salty seaweed and tarry rope, hint at what might be hiding under the sea…’

Ardbeg Kelpie launches on Ardbeg Day (Saturday 3rd June) and will be available to purchase from Ardbeg Embassies for a two week exclusive period. Kelpie will then be available at Ardbeg Embassies, whisky specialists and department stores with a RRP of £98.00.  

Whiskey Thinkstock

Best Places to Drink Whiskey:

Whiskey Cocktails:

Glenmorangie – The Spirit of the Open Golf Championship this year at Royal Birkdale – has created a delicious thirst quenching whisky cocktail with a golf twist: The Tee Off.

How to make The Tee Off…

  1. Pour 50ml Glenmorangie Original into a highball glass.
  2. Muddle together 50ml cold earl grey tea with 20ml fresh lemon juice and 15ml sugar syrup. Add to the glass, along with 3 – 4 ice cubes.
  3. Top the glass up with Fever Tree bitter lemon and serve with a fresh orange peel twist garnish

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