This month’s staff picks collection is inspired by a conversation we were having here at Whisky Marketplace HQ about how we fell in love with whisky and, more importantly, which whiskies made that happen. Our 'first loves' if you will. Not the rarest or most expensive whiskies we’ve ever tasted but the whiskies which really started our journey. Expressions that keep us coming back for more.
I’m sure most of you can relate to the experience, you may have tried whisky on a number of occasions before you really caught the bug. And then you tried a whisky, or went to a tasting, and suddenly you were hooked.
So we thought we’d revisit some old flames for our November picks with classics from Lagavulin distillery on the island of Islay; Oban on the west coast of Scotland; Islay's rugged Ardbeg distillery; and a Glenfarclas whisky from the family run Speyside distillery.
We hope you enjoy the selection. What were your first whisky loves?
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
Lagavulin 16 Year Old
This may well have been the second ‘proper’ single malt I bought. Layers of warm peat and marmalade, sweet and earthy. Readily available but always wonderful this remains a staple of my whisky cabinet. And few would disagree with my assertion that this should be considered one of the finest 'standard' O.B.s on the market.
£52.99 at www.masterofmalt.com
Oban 14 Year Old
A maritime whisky, with peat smoke and salty goodness. Not as rugged or outright peaty as some of the more aggressive Islay whiskies. This was not only one of the first single malts I tried, it also sowed the seed of my fascination with all things peaty. And it still has a place in my cabinet.
£42.90 at www.thegreenwellystop.co.uk
Ardbeg’s classic output is bourbon barrel matured - pale in colour, strong in flavour - but this expression has a strong sherry influence and is bottled at cask strength. As such it adds layers of christmas cake and spicy fruit to the more typical Ardbeg notes of peaty, smoked almonds and vanilla. It doesn’t matter where my whisky journey takes me I still come back for more.
£54.13 at www.masterofmalt.com
Glenfarclas 15 Year Old
For me, before peat there was sherry. What I mean by that is the moment I realised that whisky could be more than an old man’s back bar spirit was when I tasted the fruitcake notes of a sherry matured single malt for the first time. And Glenfarclas 15 was the dram that did. I’ve since had the good fortune to taste some of the distillery’s more exclusive expressions but there will always be a place in my heart for the 15 years old.
£43.90 at www.thewhiskybarrel.co.uk