I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer living in Brisbane.
Published August 10th 2017
So many whiskies, so little time
I love whisky. I love drinking it: sipping it, savouring it, quaffing it. I love talking about it and sharing it and learning more about it. I even once ate whisky porridge. So I thought I'd share my passion with you and tell you about a few of my favourites.
Let me know what's your favourite. I want to know what I have been missing.
The Macallan THE Macallan (never just Macallan) is my absolute favourite single malt. The distillery is in the Highlands which is the largest whisky region. The Macallan spends its time ageing in European oak seasoned with sherry or American oak seasoned with bourbon. The Macallan Master Distiller has recreated whiskies in the style of the '20s, 30's, '40s and '50s. The Twenties style was slightly drier and less toffee-sweet than modern day The Macallans. It is a masterpiece: silky smooth with a heather-honey taste.
Laphroaig (established in 1815) is distilled on the remote island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland. The 10-year-old is full of character with intense, smoky peatiness. It is not for the faint-hearted. As one drinker noted, "It's like fighting a peat bog monster that is on fire, but suddenly you both pause, look in each other's eyes and kiss."
Glenrothes Glenrothes (established in 1879) is bottled at its peak of maturity and flavour rather than at a pre-determined age. Its distillation process is unusually slow and takes place in tall copper pot-stills which deliver a sweet, clear fruity spirit. Maturation is in American oak and Spanish oak casks. The Glenrothes Robur Reserve is a Speyside vintage single malt, limited edition. It is mellow with sweet and spicy character and dried fruit nose.
Aberlour Aberlour is another distinctive Speyside malt, matured in a combination of sherry and bourbon casks for a minimum of 10 years. Its complex flavour is from the famous River Spey water which flows down from the surrounding granite mountains. This particular 13-year-old was hand-filled at the distillery by a friend. (Thanks Nancy!). It is a fine after-dinner dram.
Bowmore Bowmore (established in 1779) is the original Islay malt. This wonderful, well balanced 15-year-old smells like chocolate toffee and fruit. It is copper coloured with creamy oak smokiness and peat flavours. Think of eating ice-cream at a beach bonfire. No wonder it's an award winner. It is also a favourite of Scottish "tartan noir" writer, Ian Rankin.
Traditional wooden Quaich handmade in the Scottish Highlands
What is a Quaich? A Quaich is a Scottish, shallow, circular drinking cup with 2 handles or lugs. Traditionally it was made from wood, but can also be from stone or horn, and more recently from metals such as pewter and silver. The "cup of friendship" has been used for centuries to offer a welcoming dram of whisky at clan gatherings and family occasions as well as to greet friends and visitors. The two lugs make the Quaich an ideal cup for sharing and incorporates trust between the giver and the receiver who could be friends, family, lovers or even strangers. A Quaich should always be offered so that the receiver can hold both lugs, making it impossible for the drinker to use any weapons. The Quaich is used in many ceremonial events: at weddings it is a symbol of the shared love between the bride and groom; at Christenings, it is used to drink to the health of the wee bairn (baby) and it is usually present at Burns Suppers.
The Gresham Bar
The Gresham Bar This bar is a great place to try new or unusual whiskies by the glass in Brisbane. The interior is like a traditional whisky saloon. It has Queensland's only Heritage Licensed Bar. It is in the beautiful old Queensland National Bank building (1881) at 308 Queen Street in Brisbane's CBD, and is steeped in history. The bar was opened in 2013 and they have retained the building's original character, architecture and heritage. There is an extensive range of whiskies by the glass (from $9.50 to $69) as well as whisky cocktails, whiskeys and other spirits. There are other very good bars to experiment with whisky drinking but this isn't a bad place to start your journey.