£30-40, £40-50, Highland, Island, Islay, Speyside

What Whisky this Christmas? Part II – Scrummy Yummy

For the second of our festive shopping posts we have upped the game a bit. These malts are all leaders in the field but still amazing value at under £50. The problem you might have is giving them away…

Scrummy Yummy – Amazing value drams for less than £50

Highland Whisky

anCnoc Peter Arkle 2nd Release

picture: whisky-online.com
picture: whisky-online.com

A limited edition piece of whisky history this, surprising to find that there is in fact still some of these rare bottles available out there. This whisky is part of a set with packaging designed by the Scottish Illustrator Peter Arkle. You could say it’s a gimmick (it’s a gimmick) but open a bottle and you will find that inside the stuff is as nice as the drawings on the outside.

This was a surprise find for aWfW at the Glasgow Whisky Festival last year and enjoyed so much we went back for seconds. Just shy of the £50 price tag at some retailers, it has a good fruity and Christmassy feel to it. If you are a fan of Glenmorangie (a standard in any whisky collection) this will set you salivating for more.

Glengoyne 15 Year Old

picture: thewhiskyexchange.com
picture: thewhiskyexchange.com

Speak to any Glasweigan and they have all seemed to have visited Glengoyne at some point. It’s like a pilgrimage for the inhabitants of the dear green place and you can see why. Affordable delicious whisky in a beautiful setting at their distillery, heaven anyone? We hear if you are so inclined you can buy your own barrel of the stuff which gets you a formal member’s jacket, a bit like the golf Masters green jacket we suppose but maybe the philandering isn’t needed.

Rich, sweet and toffee tasting this has all the classic hallmarks of a good Highland whisky. It’s seen some of its years in a first-fill sherry cask making it extremely smooth for the age statement on the bottle. Pretty good for £50, visit the distillery and they will give you a fiver off.

Island Whisky

Scapa 16 Year Old

picture: masterofmalt.com
picture: masterofmalt.com

When drawing up this list we decided to have only one island whisky, so it was an extremely tough competition to pick out  a favourite. Ultimately after loving but leaving Arran, Jura and Talisker out we’ve settled on the Viking Orkney Islands. Trying to stand up for the lesser known, aWfW has opted for the smaller of the islands two distilleries despite Highland Park’s selection of fantastic whisky.

The Scapa 16 has been a firm favourite with us since it’s 2009 re-brand with its coastal strength, hints of sea spray and honey tones. You can’t argue that getting a whisky made in the 1990’s for less than £50 is a damn good deal and we are so glad the distillery was saved from certain closure almost ten years ago.

Speyside Whisky

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

picture: scotchnoob.com
picture: scotchnoob.com

The biggest of all the whisky regions we’ve narrowed down all that beautiful Speyside whisky into two famous distilleries who have put in a twist. First up its Balvenie with their innovative Caribbean rum cask finish 14 year old. Fruity and unsurprisingly like rum, this dram has a great smooth finish to it. Usually seen in shops at around £45 if you like the old sailor jerry (not the new stuff!) you’ll love this.

Balvenie make so many good whiskies that if this rum version doesn’t sound that appealing check out their double wood. This great little number has been propping up whisky collections since the year dot and we don’t expect it to go anywhere soon.

Abelour a’Bunadh Batch 46

picture: timeswhiskyclub.com
picture: timeswhiskyclub.com

Another limited run, the first batch of this stuff went on sale when Eric Cantona was still playing football, the Spice Girls topped the charts and a sheep in Scotland made history. Now in its 46th version you would guess they would know what they were doing and you’d be right.

The cheaper end of our selection this will come in at around £40 and features, as always a heavy sherry finish. Be warned this will put hairs on your chest due to its cask strength and you may wish to water it down a tad before launching straight in.

Islay Whisky

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

picture: laphroaig.com
picture: laphroaig.com

Lap-frog, L-A-POG, Laph-egg however you fail to name it correctly this modern classic from Laphroaig is enough to satisfy any peat enthusiast. Heat and sweet with the all familiar tones on TCP of the distillery make it a dram to remember. Un-aged but we heard from the those in the know that it spends five years in a cask before spending some time in a mini quarter sized cask hence the name.

The marketers have a nice wee story about the history of the quarter cask being used to avoid paying tax duties by whisky smugglers because they were easy to hide. True or not it’s great to drink and a bargain at £40. Sometimes seen on special offers at this time of the year keep your eyes peeled for a knock down bargain price.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

picture: masterofmalt.com
picture: masterofmalt.com

Named after the loch from which the distillery draws its water this incarnation is a powerful dram not for the faint hearted. Strong smoke tones ladled with malt flavours anyone who like heavy ale may also appreciate something like this.

As most of the delicacies in life are it can be an acquired taste but we don’t think that anyone who is seriously into their whisky will turn their nose up at this for £50. A sure fire winner of a gift this is our top recommendation for those who can’t even decide between the list of seven we have given you.

£80-100, Islay

Ardbog – Feis Ile 2013 Bottling


Colour: Dark Gold

Nose: Take you straight to Islay with smoking embers on Port Ellen beach with a huge peated wiff. A slight tinge of wet paint sits in behind the fire filled smoke.

Taste: Again extremely peated (although not as much as other Ardbeg) which packs heat which is warming like a good Scottish sunny day sighting by the sea. Surprisingly has slowly developing sweetness but not sugary – more Coke Zero than the red can – that take off the harsh edge of the peat.

Finish: The finish is long lingering and very warming. Pretty dry almost wine like but is very enjoyable on a sunny day.

Price: Originally £80, but quick to sell out so expect to pay at least £100 from traders and auctions. When the very nice – and similar – Ardbeg Uigeadail can be sourced for £50 the extra price is questionable. Nevertheless for a one off very enjoyable.