New world whiskies are racing up the popularity stakes. Nikhil Agarwal shortlists some of the finest around.
The world of whisky has evolved. For one there is more demand. The Scots never imagined that Asia would develop such a thirst for their age statements that they would actually be a shortage. Hence the release of non age statements from the giants. They probably didn’t also imagine that there would be the beginning of a small threat to their whisky fiefdom coming from all corners of the world. Whisky drinkers who have done it all are besoted by the exotic and new. For the first time ever in whisky history there is access to quality stuff from around the world giving enthusiasts an opportunity to set forth on a voyage of discovery like never before. Much like wine actually.
Japanese whisky for one has become a thing of legends with prices to match, demand clearly out pacing supply. Some of it is undeserved though I might add. Tasmania in Australia is steadily finding its space in the whisky world, Taiwan has created a malt whisky that achieved cult status and even in India we have two distilleries that are taking on the world. The USA is now producing malt whiskies over above their delicious ryes and bourbons. Here are a couple that have caught my attention lately –
DALWHINNIE 15 YO – HIGHLAND, SCOTLAND
Gold with a crisp, dry and very aromatic with hints of heather and peat on the nose. Light to medium bodied with a smooth and lasting flavours of honey sweetness & vanilla followed by deeper citrus flavours
BUNNAHABHAIN 18YO – ISLAY SCOTLAND
A rich mahogany Single Malt Scotch Whisky, this is one of the Bunnahabhain family favourites. It is intensely warming; with dried fruit, sherry, toffee and spices leading to a delicious honeyed nuttiness and the slightest hint of sea salt.
PAUL JOHN BRILLIANCE – GOA INDIA
The six-row barley for this whisky comes from the foothills of the Himalayas. Brilliance is matured in bourbon casks, to give you absolute sensory delight. The demerara sugars give off a whiff of sweet fragrances, with a hint of cinnamon, dash of honey and faint spices. The honey-like smoothness is offset by the crunchy-bar-like crispness. Somewhere, there is also a tinge of cocoa.
YAMAZAKI 18 YEARS OLD – OSAKA JAPAN
Rich with mature autumn fruit, with a deep amber colour. The nose has raisin, apricot, cafe au lait, Mizunara (Japanese oak) with blackberry, strawberry jam, dark chocolate on the palate with a long, spicy, smooth finish.
KURAYOSHI 18 YEAR PURE MALT WHISKY – CHUGOKU JAPAN
A deeply complex spirit derived from extensive aging. The sweet taste of honey, mixed with smoke, spice and mint, lingers on the palate, carried and lifted by this 18yr whisky’s higher abv.
KAVALAN EX SHERRY – YILAN, TAIWAN
An award winning Sherry Solist reduced to 46% alcohol volume with Kavalan spring water, this is a perfect introduction to the outstanding new world whisky. This rich and complex whisky opens onto notes of dried fruit and walnut with some marzipan and vanilla touches to it. The palate is smooth, with rancio red fruits (raspberry, red currant) and spices.
HELLYER’S ROAD PINOT NOIR – TASMANIA AUSTRALIA
The nose is immediately drawn to crisp summer citrus, lemon and orange that obediently withdraws on the palate to manifest a sweet, gentle layer of pepper and spice – a persuasion of the red wine cameo. Burnt blackberry sauce lingers in the aftertaste foreclosing a treasured confusion of the senses.
COMPASS BOX HEDONISM – SCOTLAND
A celebration of that ideal marriage between distilled spirit and high quality oak maturation. The aromas and flavours hint of vanilla, caramel, a delicate fruitiness, accented by flashes of coconut in the finish. This is a whisky that will appeal to both the ardent whisky enthusiast and newcomers to whisky alike.
MCCARTHY’S SINGLE MALT – OREGON, USA
McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey is distilled in a Holstein pot still using one pass distillation and is non-chill filtered. It is then barrel-aged in air-dried Oregon Oak barrels. The result is remarkably smooth for a 3-year-old whiskey. In the Whiskey Bible’s review of the world’s whiskeys, McCarthy’s was recognized as the “Best Small Batch Whiskey” in 2004 and 2006.
DAD’S HAT RYE WHISKEY – PENNSYLVANIA, USA
Floral and spicy on the nose with a well-balanced mouth feel and flavor — up-front and back-end spice, cinnamon on the mid-palate. Underlying notes of dried fruit and black cherry with hints of tobacco, vanilla and oak.