Winter is the time to settle in of a dark evening, heavy bottomed glass in hand, in front to a roaring fire, ready to pour and sip a beautiful, warming single malt. More and more of us are turning to whisky, the diversity of the spirit making it an endless voyage of discovery. Some are more spectacular than others, so if you’re looking to treat a whisky lover, or simply reward yourself for a bloody good year, here are three of what we think are 2018’s most interesting limited editions. And if you’re the sort who’s just dipping their toes into the world of Scotch, each one comes with a less pricey alternative, that’s just as good to savour. Slainte!
Talisker Bodega (or if not try Talisker 10)
Whiskies get aged in casks. Yes yes, I know you know this. But immense effort is put into sourcing casks that held port, sherry, madeira and all kinds of other lovely spirits to make the diverse and delicious flavours that infuse a dram. Talisker decided they wanted to go back to the source, a small family sherry bodega called Delgado Zuleta, who also happen to be one of the world’s oldest sherry makers. The result is a 40-year-old Talisker aged in barrels that held 40 year old Amontillado sherry. The flavour profile is off the chart – fruity sultanas and pears in syrup from the sherry, with Talisker’s signature smoky, seaweed-y vibes. The £2,750 price tag is an indicator of just how special it is. Too much? Dial it back to a classic Talisker 10, the most representative of the iconic Skye whisky distillery’s output – peaty, smoky, a little salty, and perfect for Christmas.
Fettercairn 50 (or if not try Fettercairn 12)
If you look at the name Fettercairn and wonder ‘who?’ you’re not alone. This is a bit of a hidden gem of a distillery that this summer came blazing out of the shadows with the release of a distinctive 50-year-old bottle of single malt. Fettercairn is in the Cairngorms, planting this whisky firmly in Speyside, and its signature style is a whisky with notes of tropical fruit, soft spice and sweetness. The 50 year old has all of these flavours in spades, but with the mellowness that can only come from being finished in Tawny Port Pipe casks. Its starting price is just under £10,000, but if you find that’s too much of a stretch there are younger editions in this series too – the 12 year old which only costs £48, the 28 year old which won gold at this year’s International Wine and Spirits Convention (IWSC), and the 40 year old which also won an IWSC gold award. Whichever you choose, you’ll be letting whoever you share your bottle with in on a brilliant secret.
Glenlivet Code (or if not try Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve)
This is where whisky gets game-ified. The iconic distillery released a limited edition of a single malt without cask information or tasting notes. In honour of the British code breakers of the Second World War, drinkers are invited to discern four aromas for the nose and four flavours for the palate from several possible combinations. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll be awarded a score and ranked against other code-breakers around the world. For £99.95, it’s a novel way of pandering to those who fancy themselves whisky aficionados, and you can check whether you have the skills of a master taster at the end of this year when the official tasting notes are released. Sound too much like hard work? Then Glenlivet have also released a Captain’s Reserve edition, just in time for Christmas, finished in Cognac casks for a rich honey and apricot flavour.