I have two lists to be precise. One is a personal list of things that I am hoping to accomplish, such as remember my wife’s birthday and learn to not leave my tea bag in the mug after a cuppa. The other is my Single Malt Scotch Bucket List. For those of you who may be scratching your heads and wondering what in God’s name is a bucket list? Let me explain. Put simply, it is a list of whiskies to try before you die. Of course everyone’s list will be different as everybody’s taste is different. However, if you are new to the world of single malt and want a guide as to where to begin, well then you could start by looking below and viewing my own.
On the other hand, if you have been around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in a glass then you know that the list will never be complete. There are so many whiskies out there to try that the task is simply impossible. But that is where the fun comes in to play, finding new drams and re-discovering old ones. My list is in no particular order as of course I am not quite sure as to when I am going to kick the bucket!
Slainte – Denis
Aberlour A’bunadh Cask Strength Single Malt The letter A is always a good place to start and Aberlour is funnily enough right at the beginning. A’bunadh (pronounced A-bun-arh) is a whisky that deserves respect. Many folks shy away from this cult Speyside as they fear its high alcohol content. However, get past that with a drop of water and the whisky opens up to reveal great complexities. A’bunadh is a vatting (blending) of heavily sherried casks that are then bottled at cask strength without chill filtration (chill filtration removes the fatty esters and oils that give the whisky it’s full flavor). So how is it? With water added, raisins, cherries and toffee rise out of the glass. The palate is big and chewy, with caramel, nuts and spices. A deliciously warming dram that begs for an armchair and a good book.
Highland Park 18 Year Old If there is one whisky that you should buy in your lifetime then this is it. The Highland Park 18 Year Old is without a doubt one of the greatest whiskies ever produced. Whisky writers and aficionados have been singing its praises for years and you will too as this is a whisky whose elements converge together in just the right quantities, each one perfectly balanced. It is everything that one needs in a bottle, floral notes, sweetness, peat, earth and maltiness.
Strathisla 12 Year Old Single Malt Strathisla (strath-eye-la), to me, is a gem of a whisky. It is often overlooked for whiskies with more familiar names. But for those who have sought it out, they have been richly rewarded. You may not have heard much about this treasure as most of the malt goes into blends such as Chivas Regal, so as a consequence, there is very little left over to be bottled as a single malt. But what is bottled is charming, classy and almost feminine.
Glendronach 15 Year Old Glendronach is probably going to be a new distillery for many people. This is my favorite of the Glendronach bunch. If you like Macallan’s sherry oak offerings then you will like this.
Laphroaig 30 Year Old Very Rare Islay Single Malt This particular Laphroaig (Laf-row-ig) is a whisky that makes it to my list for three reasons. The first one being that I have fond memories of tasting this. My first taste was at home with my wife Doria, I remember we were both sitting on our couch, lost in our glasses. We hardly spoke to each other for at least 5 minutes! The second reason is linked to the first. It was so good, probably one of the greatest whiskies that I have ever tried. And third, the rarity value. There is no more production of this whisky and as such stocks are dwindling and prices will rise. You will probably never taste the likes of this whisky again; it is old and traditional in style with a very pronounced sherry characteristic, a style that is fading in Scotland.