This Outturn is the biggest of the year, with 45 bottlings on offer and with a range of styles and a variety of flavour profiles to suit absolutely everyone. With so many whiskies up for grabs, here are my picks across four different categories for your own holiday pleasure – or to gift to someone else.
If you’re looking for a heavenly whisky at a fantastic price – whether for yourself or as a reasonably priced gift – you can’t go wrong with Cask No. 96.31: Poised and balanced. It’s been additionally matured in a first-fill Pedro Ximenez hogshead, won a Master medal in the recent Luxury Masters competition, and it’s a steal at only £52.
Cask No. 12.31: Flight of the tooth fairy is an amazing quality first-fill bourbon barrel, with floral and marzipan notes. And Cask No. 113.26 Full of fizz and sparkle will really zing the taste buds to kick-off any tasting.
Distillery 72 is widely regarded by those in the know as producing a top-quality distillate, smooth and gentle, and that’s certainly the case with Cask No. 72.80: Swallowing a cashmere scarf. This is a Light & Delicate flavour profile with a cosy, warming and silky-smooth texture from a top quality first-fill bourbon barrel, and amazing value at £51.70.
My final pick in this category would be Cask No. 108.18: Pancetta roulette, a Peated profile Speysider with lovely notes of cured meat and salty vibes. It comes from a great quality second-fill bourbon barrel that lets the smoke shine through that a more active cask might conceal.
An intriguing dram is all it takes to spark some conversation and get a gathering off to a great start. Cask No. 112.44: Talking point whisky does exactly what it says on the bottle, with a bewildering range of aromas and an equally intriguing palate from this 11-year-old Sweet, Fruity & Mellow Highland bottling. Pour a dram from that and let the discussions begin.
For something equally compelling, Cask No. 13.78: Stimulating sedation has a wonderful contrast between the fresh, clean aromas coming through on the nose, compared with the spicy, sun-kissed strawberries on the palate. Definitely a couple of drams to get the party going!
Whoever you’re buying whisky for, we have a cracking variety of drams from across the spectrum of our flavour profiles. Cask No. 5.71: Elbow patches and saucy librarians is a Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits bottling with a period of additional maturation in an oloroso cask. That’s given what is normally a fruity, green apple note in the whisky from this distillery more of an indulgent, baked apple style.
Cask No. 37.130: Salad dressing for the Anthropocene, meanwhile, is a fantastic winter dram that we matured for 14-years in a bourbon hogshead before transferring it to a first-fill charred red wine barrique. For another phenomenal dark and flavoursome bottling, try Cask No. 28.43: Muscle-toned heft and punch – this one was matured in a first-fill oloroso butt, and as its name suggests, it packs a huge impact. And if you’re looking for a blast of Islay, go for Cask No. 10.179: Flamingos smoking pipe tobacco, a Heavily Peated flavour profile from a first-fill ex-red wine barrique.
There’s plenty to choose from here for an ideal holiday dram, but it’s hard to see past Cask No. 1.212: Beeswax on barrels. This has all those amazing rich notes you’d expect from a well-matured whisky, with a sweetened layer of treacly goodness from its additional maturation in a Pedro Ximenez hoggie. And as one of our new members told us in a tasting we held for the current issue of Unfiltered: “If you know anyone who says they don’t like whisky, they should try a dram of this.”
Cask No. 48.107: Brandy implementation matrix is another cracking Christmas whisky, a Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits flavour profile bursting with cloves, raisins, cranberry gravy and spiced fruit chutney. Perfect for the Christmas table.
Here’s SMWS ambassador Dean Marinello at The Vaults with his pick from the mid-November Outturn