TOP TIPPLE: Christmas whisky

Laphroaig 18-year-old
Laphroaig 18-year-old
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THE WORLD has gone whisky mad.

Sales of single malts this Christmas are going through the distillery roof as tipplers from Ben Nevis to Beijing and Bangalore turn to scotch in record number.

We wouldn’t want to be left out would we?

Being the selfless sorts we are at Top Tipple we’ve done a yuletide taste test of some of the mulitplying brands of malt on your off licence and supermarket shelves - so you don’t have to.

All you have to do is pick the one that sounds best and get down to your local off licence or supermarket and do the deed – there are some great bargains to be had at the moment too if you shop around.

It’s down to the individual of course but many people who aren’t malt whisky converts are a little put off by the initial harshness of the spirit.

The answer is simple and extraordinarily effective.


Take a drop of water with it – 50/50 is a good place to start – and lose the harshness and the alcohol edge and linger over those beautiful, multi-layered flavours.

It’s what Christmas needs most, cheers

Macallan Gold, the newest edition to The Macallan’s portfolio is unsurprisingly gold in colour with of vanilla and citrus flavours followed by dark chocolate with lingering floral and light oak notes.

(RRP £36.00)

The foodie in your family will love Highland Park 12 Year Old with its honey sweetness followed by fruit. On the palate it is drying with a hint of gentle smoke and a flavour that just keeps on delivering. (RRP £31.65)

The gift of Ardmore is perfect for the person eager to discover a new dram this holiday season. With a firm belief in traditional distilling methods, Ardmore Traditional Cask delivers a sweet ripe fruit start followed by the tang of peat. (RRP £30.93) For more go to

Presented in its iconic bottle, The Glenrothes Select Reserve is the essence of The Glenrothes range. Select Reserve is produced in The Glenrothes house style laden with ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and hints of spice. (RRP £36.18) See

Laphroaig Quarter Cask is an ideal dram for the adventureous. The vibrant single malt shows soft sweetness and a velvety feel when first tasted, then the intense peatiness so unique to Laphroaig comes bursting through in all its carbolic glory. (RRP £35.99)

For the whisky aficionado, Highland Park 18 Year Old is an ideal gift. Twice named, “Best Spirit in the World” by US spirits writer F. Paul Pacult, this single malt displays characteristic toffee sweetness and leaves you with a full, smokey finish. (RRP £68.48)

For the real expert spoil them with the Laphroaig 18 Year Old. Made in limited quantities each year and savoured by a fortunate few, the immediate taste is an oak sweetness, from 18 years in the barrel. A faint hint of the sea can be detected, testimony to its time maturing on the sea-sprayed island of Islay. (RRP: £77.17)

How about a Welsh whisky? It doesn’t sound right but it doesn’t half taste good. The Penderyn Portwood, and the Madeira for that matter, is a fantastic combination of oak and fruit with a honeyed finish and so smooth. Not for those who prefer a peaty, smoky whisky but for the rest it’s spot on. Portwood 41 (£36.00, 70cl), Madeira Finished Single Malt (£38 70cl).

Jura Superstition is one of a range created on the Island and a belter for those who like a whiff of peat smoke with their malt. Made up of whiskies aged for 13 years and 21 years, this is quite sweet and creamy with a medium length finish and hints of honey and spice as it lingers. (£28.95 70cl)