Five Scotch Whiskies for St. Andrew’s Day

by Matt Chambers
at Whisky for Everyone

30th November marks St. Andrew’s Day – the National Day of Scotland. In whisky terms this official holiday is often overlooked in preference to Burn’s Night at the end of January. But many will be celebrating with a special dinner or by pouring a wee dram.

Here we look at five classic Scotch single malts that you should try, or maybe revisit if you are a well-versed whisky enthusiast, that will be perfect for the occasion.

The Bourbon Cask Classic | Glenmorangie 10 years old

The north Highland distillery of Glenmorangie is home to Scotland’s tallest single malt stills. These stand at over five metres tall – the same height as an adult male giraffe. The twelve stills create a cathedral-like impression and one of the most impressive stillhouses you will see. They produce a light and elegant style of single malt, which is shown perfectly in the superb 10-year-old.

Pure maturation in ex-bourbon casks allow Glenmorangie’s spirit to shine and the whisky is creamy, soft, and velvety. Expect aromas of vanilla and white chocolate followed by notes of butterscotch, heather honey, and freshly sawn oak with hints of cocoa powder and apricot jam. Delicious and classy.


The Sherry Bomb | Aberlour 12 years old

The Speyside town of Aberlour has much to thank entrepreneur James Fleming for. Not only did he build the now-famous distillery in 1879 but also funded the town’s hospital (which still bears his name), introduced electricity and built a bridge over the nearby River Spey. Aberlour is a great place to visit if in the area and is also home to Walker’s Shortbread.

Aberlour’s rich and oily spirit works perfectly when matured in ex-sherry barrels. The brand has become one of the world’s most popular single malts, with its largest market being France. Aromas of caramel, dark dried fruits and orange zest sit alongside those of milk chocolate, toasted nuts, and warming baking spice. Sumptuous and decadent.


The Exotic Twist | Balvenie 14 years old Caribbean Cask

These days, there are many Scotch whiskies on the market that have a finish. This is the process where a single malt is moved from one cask type, usually ex-bourbon, to another for a shorter period. One of the early pioneers was David Stewart MBE, the legendary former Master Blender of Balvenie, who began experimentation with finishing in the 1980s.

Fast forward nearly four decades and the practice is commonplace with all types of casks being used from around the world. The Balvenie 14 years old was one of the first bottlings to utilise the exotic and tropical flavour profile of ex-rum casks from the Caribbean. Expect a delicious sweetness with notes of demerara sugar, caramelised pineapple, and toffee.


The Lightly Smoky One | Highland Park 12 years old

Highland Park is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to remain from the 18th century. Founded in 1798 on the Orkney Islands, this single malt has long been a firm favourite with whisky drinkers. The early distillery was operated by the infamous ‘whisky priest’ Magnus Eunson – he was a clergyman in Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital, by day and an illegal distiller and smuggler by night.

Highland Park uses local Orkney peat to dry their malted barley. This contains a lot of heather and burns with a soft, gentle, and sweet smoke. This lends their single malt a deliciously savoury and earthy undertone without it being the main characteristic – think of damp moss and dying bonfire embers complimented by caramel, honey, and raisin.


The Very Smoky One | Laphroaig 10 years old

There are not many Scotch whiskies out there that are more peaty or smokier than Laphroaig 10 years old. This classic from the famous whisky island of Islay is the best-selling of any in the genre and is the epitome of its coastal home. The distillery and its iconic green bottle with simple white label and black text are known the world over. Laphroaig is divisive. It is full-on and expressive – some love it, some hate it.

Open the bottle and you will immediately be hit by a heady scent – it is packed with acrid and medicinal smoke with aromas of surgical bandage, drying seaweed and charcoal mingling with notes of iodine, coal tar soap and vanilla. Add in a peppery kick and this is not for the faint hearted.


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