Hamish's Favourite Highland Drams
Stretching all the way from the North of Glasgae to the northernmost Island of Orkney, the Highland region is the largest whisky producing area in Scotland - making the whiskies a wee bit more different to each other, but easier to find a favourite! Up North, you'll find full bodied single malts, rich and sweet in character, like the famous Dalmore whiskies. Head south for the lighter, fruitier whiskies, such as Glengoyne, or if you're after something with a bit more body, head east to Glendronach. And let's not forget the Western Highlands, where you'll find full-bodied drams with a peaty punch, like the iconic Oban.
Dalmore 12 Year Old
Alexander Matheson founded Dalmore in 1839, but it was owned by the Mackenzie clan for nigh on a hundred years. You can see their influence in the clan crest on every bottle of Dalmore. The iconic 12 Year Old expression is matured for nine years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks afore being split up. Half continues its maturation in bourbon barrels, the other half is moved to 30-year-old Matusalem Oloroso sherry casks. It's complex, yet balanced, and embodies the Dalmore house style. On the nose, you'll get spiced fruitcake, blood orange, and chocolate. The palate is full of soft oak, grape, milk chocolate, and Seville orange zest. And the finish? It's long and very fruity.
Royal Brackla 12 Years Old
Considered a hidden gem by its fans, the bonnie Royal Brackla 12 Year Old comes from the very first Scotch whisky distillery to be bestowed with a Royal Warrant, granted by none other than King William IV himself back in 1833. Such was the King's fondness for it, he insisted it be served at all Royal functions, earning it the nickname of The King's Own Whisky. This full-bodied expression is matured in Oloroso sherry casks, and boasts an array of rich and exuberant flavours such as stewed peaches, black forest gateau, cocoa almonds and muscovado sugar. Simply delightful!
Deanston Virgin Oak
Deanston distillery makes its home in a renovated cotton mill near Doune in Perthshire. The distillery is known for hand-crafted whisky using local ingredients, making Deanston not your run of the mill whisky. This expression undergoes a unique maturation process, beginning in bourbon casks from a family-run cooperage in Kentucky and finishing in new oak barrels to impart a subtle spiced character to the zesty base. The risk of this experimental choice paid off as it was awarded the coveted 'Gold Outstanding' title at the International Wine & Spirits Competition 2022. On the nose, the whisky exudes the fragrance of heady virgin oak mingled with lemon zest, sweet barley sugar, apple and nutmeg. The palate is a burst of sweet flavors, with notes of candied fruits, heather honey and vanilla toffee, followed by a finish of honeyed malt and oak spice.
Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or
Glenmorangie distillery, founded by the Matheson brothers in 1843 near the Durnoch Firth, has become one of the worlds most popular whiskies. They've gone and created a fine new expression that's all about the honey taste. A wee bit different, mind ye, as it's been aged in specially chosen wine barriques from Sauternes, which is a fancy region in France where they grow sweet wine. This gives the whisky a spicy sweetness that's unique, just like the long and elegant copper necks of their stills that ensure only the lightest and purest vapours make it to the top. You'll find warm spices, coconut and orange peel on the nose, while the palate offers up root ginger, lemon and toasted almonds, with a sweet finish that lasts and lasts.
Old Pulteney 12 Year Old
Old Pulteney is a northern Highland distillery founded in 1826 and nicknamed as 'The Maritime Malt' for its close proximity to the Caithness coast. The Old Pulteney 12 Year Old is a staple in its collection, made distinctive by its unique wash still and maturation in air-dried bourbon casks. This whisky's character is truly fitting of its name, with intense maritime notes bursting onto the nose, complemented by a subtle vanilla sweetness. On the palate, you'll discover delicate floral and citrus tones with a hint of banana and a touch of salty North Sea water, culminating in a finish with a gentle whisper of sea breeze.
The Loch Fyne Teaninich 8 Year Old 2022
Hailing from Alness, next door down from Dalmore, this cask strength Teaninich 8-year-old single malt is the newest addition tae The Loch Fyne's private cask collection. This wee dram is a rare gem, as Teaninich is not often seen as a single malt since it is mainly used in blends by some of the biggest names in whisky. They've got a hammer mill and mash filter installed, which produces an ultra-clear wort that imparts fragrant flavours of Japanese green tea and freshly cut grass. For this one, you'll find aromas of soft fruits and buttery biscuits, while the palate is sweet with flavours of popcorn and rich treacle.
Oban Little Bay
The delightfully named Oban Little Bay is created using small batches of Oban Distillery's finest single malt whiskies married in small casks to maximise contact with the wood. The special process, combined with the expertise of Malt Master Dr. Matthew Crow, delivers a signature rich, smooth expression with a classically rich and fruity character, elevated by their traditional maritime and citrus core. You can really pick this up on the nose, which is full of brine, seaweed and teak. The palate is sugary and slightly minty, with a warming, comforting sweet chewiness of richly fruited malt loaf and occasional hints of orange zest and clove. Touches of green apple on the close. Yum!
Glengoyne 12 Year Old
Glengoyne can be found nestled on the ‘Highland Line’ just north of Glasgow, making it one of the most accessible distilleries but also one of the most unique. If we're getting technical, the whisky is distilled in the highlands and matured just across the road, in what is considered to be the lowlands. Behold their award-winning fruity and easy-drinking 12-year-old, which is matured in hand-selected sherry casks crafted from European and American oak. The nose has lemon zest, honey and coconut notes, which lead to a rich palate of toffee fudge, orange, ginger and warming cinnamon. The finish is long and oily, with hints of shortbread.
Loch Lomond 14 Year Old
Loch Lomond 14 Year Old is an award-winning whisky from Alexandria, Scotland that boasts a unique and fruity character. It is crafted using only unpeated spirit from the distillery's special stills, which have cylindrical necks - unlike traditional malt stills that have open necks. This expression is aged in refill American oak casks and lightly toasted French Oak from the Limousin region, specifically made for Loch Lomond, for up to twelve months. On the nose, you can expect notes of green apple, pear, cinnamon, and lemon. On the palate, there is a burst of sweet toffee and vanilla fudge, complemented by citrus, grapefruit, and toasted oak, leading to a long and warming finish.
Highland Park 12 Year Old
An entry level whisky from Highland Parks core range, this is a balanced and subtle malt from Scotland's most northerly distillery. Released in 1979, the award winning whisky is well known as a wee all-rounder. Highland Park uses a local peat, which has a high heather proportion, in the distilling process and burns it slowly and intensely to create a floral heather aroma in the kilns. The distillation process has stayed the same in its whole 200-year history - a stickler for tradition! Notes of honey appear on the nose first, before giving way to the drifting heather smoke of a distant fire. The palate is sweet and smoky, with hints of digestive biscuit leading to a smoked honey finish. Bloomin' gorgeous!