A FINE bottle of Scotch whisky makes a terrific Christmas present for anyone who appreciates a dram of the good stuff. But finding the best bottlings isn’t easy, and there are thousands to choose from. So we asked Neil Ridley, whiskey expert and the brains behind the CaskStrength.net blog, to select the whiskies that he’d like to find under the tree on Christmas morning.
Neil says: Japanese whisky takes some of the best characteristics of Scotch whisky and does them in HD – it’s big, bold, but beautifully made. The 1984 Yamazaki has huge, resonant fruit notes and lots of oak, vanilla and spice. £469, www.thewhiskyexchange.com
HIGHLAND PARK 1970 ORCADIAN VINTAGE
The third bottling from the distillery’s prestigious Orcadian Vintage series, this almost defies logic in its excellence. You get lots of very subtle peat notes and incredible complexity, with no over-woodiness which you can get with older releases. £2,250, www.highlandpark.co.uk
BRORA 30 YEAR OLD
The Brora distillery closed in 1983, and its whiskies are very collectable since stocks are now very low. Released this year, the spicey, woody 30 year old is a really luxurious whisky that’s worth sticking away for a few years. £277.95, www.royalmilewhiskies.com
COMPASS BOX FLAMING HEART
I love blended whisky, and Compass Box is an innovative West London company that’s been at the forefront of blending for 10 years. This release marries Old Clynelish, Caolila and Ledaigh whiskies, and it’s beautifully peaty, but subtle too. £72, www.compassboxwhisky.com
GLENFARCLAS 40 YEAR OLD
Considering the amount of time this has been in the cask, this is amazing value. Glenfarclas is synonymous with rich, bold cherry notes, chocolatey flavours and winter spices – a great winter warmer that needs to be sipped and savoured and allowed to tell its considerable tale.