There are many things to know about Scotch whisky. Before you want to impress a friend or two with the knowledge you think you have, you must first know your catchment areas. Besides single malts and blends, there are four areas that the Scotch family is divided into: Highland, Lowland, Campbeltown, Speyside and Islands. The biggest happens to be the Highland area, and because it is more dispersed, flavours of the different whiskies will tend to vary quite broadly. There are plenty of smooth and full-bodied Highland whiskies around, but we decided to find out what’s good on our own. Thanks to our friends at Quaich Bar, we managed to blind taste a slew of whiskies to discover the six best that we think are worth your time.
THE SINGLETON 18 YEAR OLD
Nose: You get a nice sweet scent, much like honey. There are also nuances of dried fruit and caramel, and a subtle floral bouquet.
Palate: If you hate peaty whiskies, this isn’t for you. It’s also spicy and chocolatey, with a hint of bitterness like an unripe avocado.
Finish: Long and spicy. Good if you want to graduate from entry level whisky, which you should.
GLEN GARIOCH: THE RENAISSANCE 15 YEAR OLD
Nose: You are immediately hit with a craving for pancakes smothered with maple syrup, along with other delicious things like ripe cherries, caramel and banana.
Palate: Smooth on the tongue, peppery, savoury and a tad oily. Easy to drink in spite of a slight salty and bitter aftertaste.
Finish: Long, lingering and pleasant.
TALISKER 18 YEAR OLD
Nose: Think of an intense fruity, chocolatey complex that’s infused with banana, peat and vanilla.
Palate: Rich and full-bodied, coupled with smoke and notes of vanilla, banana and zest. It’s hard to fault this. Just remember to pace yourself or you might regurgitate it all out.
Finish: Long and peppery.
TOBERMORY 15 YEAR OLD
Nose: Medium-bodied but rich. It also surprises with notes of orange peel, toffee and aged sandalwood.
Palate: Flavours start out sweet and smoky, before the characteristics of sherried peels, chocolate liqueur and peppery oak shine. It can be a bit too sweet for some people.
Finish: Long, with delicious tones of buttered walnuts.
TOMINTOUL 16 YEAR OLD
Nose: Punchy scent that reminds you of copious amounts of butterscotch and maple syrup topped with almonds and cherries.
Palate: While it isn’t as great on the palate as it is on the nose, it’s a well-balanced whisky that’s easy to drink. It also resembles the ideal breakfast: espresso, buttered toast, cinnamon and vanilla.
Finish: Fairly short and sweet.
THE MACALLAN 18 YEAR OLD
Nose: Distinct notes of candied dried fruit and toffee, with a hint of vanilla. Very well aged.
Palate: Hits you strong but smoothly with a rich, smoky cherry flavour. Not ideal if you’re not up for that sharp and spicy biting mouthfeel it will deliver.
Finish: A long, spicy finish.