Themed tastings

The Whisky Virgin’s drams of 2016

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Whisky Virgin top whiskies 2016

Wagwan fam? It’s that time of year when we all start looking back on the past 12 months and reflecting on what’s happened, good and bad. And let me tell you, what a year it has been...

It’s sure been a journey of discovery. When I think back on how much I’ve learnt about Scotch, the new whiskies I’ve discovered and the bare number of new releases we’ve seen this year – safe to say 2016 has been lit.

So imagine my surprise when my mates at Scotchwhisky.com bell me asking for my top whisky picks from 2016. I was buzzing. ‘Yes fam,’ I told them without a moment’s hesitation. Now let me tell you, it was not easy picking my top three.

My first spot goes to Chivas Regal Ultis – now that’s how you do a blended malt whisky. Five master blenders and five single malts. It’s a wicked whisky, brimming with fruits and spices.

If there’s one tip I’ve picked up since sharpening my whisky skills, it’s to keep an open mind. And I think my brothers at Glenfiddich are doing just that with their Experimental series. For me, IPA takes the lead with its light hoppiness, thick, oily texture and sweet aroma. Bless.

Another eye-opening moment for me this year – I think I might be a peat freak. Nah, for real, Laphroaig Lore blew me away and had to take the last spot in my top picks. Bursting with smoky, meaty flavours – pour me another, do you know what I mean? 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Chivas Regal Ultis

    Chivas Regal Ultis
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    It starts off quite light and gentle, which I wasn’t expecting but actually quite liked. After leaving it alone for a while, I’m getting hints of raisins, furniture polish, caramel and vanilla. 

    Palate

    Mate, the texture on this whisky – them oils! The Sherry cask influence is clear as day, with fruit cake and Sun-Maid raisins like your mum used to put in your lunchbox. People keep talking to me about ‘warming drams’... I think I’ve found mine. Pepper, just a touch. A complex Regal. 

    Finish

    Dry, with a little sweetness. 

    Conclusion

    Five single malts from five master blenders. Bruv, this blend is banging. 

    Right place, right time

    Your mum gets out the photo album for a trip down memory lane. Bowl cuts all round, am I right?  

    Glenfiddich IPA Experiment

    Glenfiddich IPA Experiment
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    I am all over this nose. You can definitely smell the hops coming through from the IPA. Then there’s a hint of orange peels and Werthers Originals, and a sprinkling of icing sugar. 

    Palate

    Like Ultis, it’s got that oily, mouth-coating texture. It’s fresh and vibrant, and the citrus notes from the nose carry through – as do the hops, though subtly (not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all). There’s a bitter edge to it as well, which balances well against the sweeter flavours. 

    Finish

    Long and a little spicy. 

    Conclusion

    Glenfiddich’s experiment has paid off big time and for an affordable price too. Well played fam, well played. 

    Right place, right time

    After watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they decided to hit the pub. 

    Laphroaig Lore

    Laphroaig Lore
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Frazzles. A jumbo bag. Big, meaty aromas. Smoky bacon. There’s a saltiness behind the meat feast, and a sweetness trying to fight its way through. Bruv, this smells good enough to eat; someone get me a bacon bap. 

    Palate

    Big smoke from the first sip, like watching a bonfire from afar. As the smoke dies down, there’s burnt brown sugar, honey-glazed ham. Water doesn’t do much to put out the fiery smoke, but it does bring out more of the sweetness. But again the texture... oils for days! 

    Finish

    Burnt sugar. 

    Conclusion

    ‘The most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies.’ Mate, I’ll say. If you like your whiskies big, check it fam. 

    Right place, right time

    After the bonfire, he brushes the dirt off his shoulders. It’s your boy, Jay-Z

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