Top five single malts

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We’ve been editing our whisky collection of late - here are our five all-time favourites:

 

jura

1 Jura Paps 15-year-old Mountain Of Gold
Breasts have inspired poetry, prose, art… and, unlikely though it sounds, whisky. The “Paps” of Jura are a trio (OK so the fact there are three is slightly alarming) of mountains that resemble the female form, dominating this malt whisky-producing Scottish island. In tribute, three exceptional Paps whiskies have been produced, each finished in a different cask (pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and barolo).

Our pick is the Mountain Of Gold (Beinn An Oir) which uses the pinot noir finish (after all, it’s possibly our favourite grape). On the nose it’s chocolately and inviting; taste-wise, think marzipan and marmalade, berries and pepper with a complex and lingering finish. It’s an extremely unusual whisky, and one that we think will impress. £100 (+44 1496 820 385)

 

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glenfiddich

2 Glenfiddich 18-year-old
In a recent blind tasting, we pitted Glenfiddich’s 12-, 15- and 18-year-olds against one another. And while it is hard to pick the best (ideally we’d have them all for different occasions – especially the light, fresh 12-year-old), the 18yo really stood out. Try it with just a drop of water to release a complex array of flavours: spices such as cinnamon, stewed apple, raisins, oak and honey. It’s an intense and smooth whisky that slips down extremely easily. £37.99 at The Glenfiddich online shop 

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auchentoshan

3 Auchentoshan 18-year-old
Admittedly we picked up this bottle because of its sleek packaging but once we got it open, Auchentoshan (pronounced och’n’tosh-an) certainly managed to hold our attention. It’s triple distilled – the only whisky to be so in Scotland – to deliver an incredibly smooth, light mouthful. If you’ve ever been put off by heavily peaty/smoky whisky, then this is a great re-introduction. It’s subtle, light yet interesting: on the nose, it’s butterscotch and caramel, while the flavour is slightly zesty and floral. £51 at The Whisky Exchange (www.thewhiskyexchange.com)

 

ardbegblasda

4 Ardbeg Blasda
One for peat lovers (the distillery is just down the road from Laphroaig), Blasda was one of 2008’s best new releases. Approaching peat with subtly rather than a spade (Ardbeg is renowned for its smoke-and-seaspray whiskies), this is a delicate, creamy Islay single malt. On the nose, it has a caramelised, slightly nutty and sweet smell. When it comes to flavour think sweet almonds, dried fruits and marzipan offering a rounded, smooth taste. £44 at The Whisky Exchange (www.thewhiskyexchange.com)

 

talisker

5 Talisker 10-year-old
Distilled on the western Scottish island of Skye, this single malt has a natural affinity with the sea and sailors (hence the brand’s commendable relationship with the RNLI), however, this whisky isn’t just for old salts. It’s a strong, smoky beast, which packs a powerful, sweet, peppery flavour. It’s warming, spicy and intense, lacking, perhaps, in the delicate elements displayed by some of our selection, this is a whisky for wild weather, log fires and long evenings. A dram to savour. £30 at Waitrose (www.waitrosewine.com)