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7 wonderful whiskies to warm you up this January

Time to reach for a robust, dark spirit, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

When you want to brighten these long, wintry evenings, there’s nothing like the depth and complexity of a glass of whisky to please the palate – and stir the senses.

Lovingly crafted from three simple ingredients – grain, water and yeast – this liquid gold can swing from fragrant to fruity, from rich to smoky, and the different flavour camps offer such a broad spectrum of styles, it’s unlike any other spirit.

Here are some special bottles and cocktails to take off the chill…

1. Co-op Irresistible Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 70cl, £20, Co-op, in-store


A standout single malt (and steal for the price), Whyte & Mackay are behind this Highland Scotch – and some of whisky’s most famous names, including The Dalmore. Instantly inviting with a honeyed character, it’s matured in ex-bourbon barrels and offers a nose of rich orchard fruits, caramel and vanilla, with a full, long finish.

2. Speyburn 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £26.99, 70cl, Amazon


A long-time favourite with its toasty, sweet-caramel notes, Speyburn’s core expression just happens to be the perfect Scotch for a champagne cocktail – namely the 125 Highball, and fitting tribute to mark their 125th anniversary. With a delicate fruity character and floral finish, here’s the recipe to cheer you through the dreariest month of the year…

Ingredients: 40ml Speyburn 10 Year Old, 30ml apple cordial, 100ml champagne, 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters, apple to garnish.

Method: Half-fill a highball glass with ice. Add the whisky, cordial and bitters and top with champagne. Garnish with an apple slice or star anise.

3. Berry Bros & Rudd Islay – The Classic Range, £32.99, 70cl, Master of Malt

(Berry Bros & Rudd/PA)

A brilliant introduction to the beguiling, medicinal character of a smoky, peated whisky, this new release perfectly captures the savoury nature of whiskies from the Hebridean island of Islay. A blend of island distilleries chosen for their smoky characteristics, think long lingering peat smoke complemented by creamy intensity with enticing char aromas and orchard fruits.

4. Cotswolds Signature Single Malt Whisky, £39, 70cl, Cotswolds Distillery

(Cotswolds Distillery/PA)

Hailing from glorious Glosters, this award-winning single malt is made with local Cotswold barley and it totally delivers. Rich, bold and fruit forward, honey, red fruits – from time spent in ex-red wine barriques – and treacle accompany the malty character with a lovely lingering sweetness on the finish.

Gorgeous on its own, it’s also the perfect base for an old fashioned – a timeless favourite…

Ingredients: 60ml Cotswolds Signature Single Malt Whisky, 10ml maple syrup, 2 dashes of orange bitters.

Method: Dissolve the whisky and maple syrup in a cocktail jar or glass. Add ice and stir continuously for dilution. Add the bitters, more ice and stir a few more times. Strain into an ice filled rocks glass, express orange peel around the glass. Garnish with the orange peel and serve.

5. The Glendronach Original 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £44.85, 70cl, Amazon

(The Glendronach/PA)

Another great choice, this one gets its deep, warm, richly-sherried profile from maturing in pedro ximénez and oloroso sherry casks; and really hits the spot with its spiciness, dense flavours of rich dark fruits, raisins and hints of ginger, layered with oak, creamy vanilla and sherry sweetness, with a spicy, nutty finish. A fireside sipper.

6. Waterford Ballybannon Peated Irish Single Malt Whisky, £77.95, 70cl, The Whisky Exchange


Waterford whiskies focus on terroir and provenance of barley – their whiskies are single farm, meaning each farmer’s crop is harvested, stored, malted and distilled separately. This new release makes a strong case for ‘barley grown in the old ways,’ made at Ballybannon farm. Impressive from word go, it’s sweet pungency draws you in with aromatic smoke, soft on the palate with a fruity, creamy, mouth-filling texture laced with peat-infused spiciness. Distinctly smooth with a lasting finish.

7. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Rabbit, £210, 70cl, The Whisky Exchange

(The Whisky Exchange/PA)

A highlight from the world’s bestselling Scotch, this limited edition is a collaboration between Blue Label and Chinese fashion designer Angel Chen. With illustrations celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, you can look forward to layers of spice with traces of vanilla and honey, caramel, hazelnuts and dark chocolate, with tantalising smoky notes on the finish. Smooth, mellow and worth splashing out.


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