The sea of expressions and tasting notes that underline the world of malts can overwhelm even the most seasoned drinkers. If you’re just starting out on your whiskey journey, we’ve listed out a few popular options in India that go down smooth.
As far as alcohol is concerned, whiskey – along with wine – is regarded as a connoisseurial beverage. And for good reason. A quick peek at the shelves of most stores will reveal labels declaring maturation dates and barrel types, amongst other seemingly complex details. And in a whiskey-favouring country like India, this translates to the most eclectic set of options – luxurious to easy on the pocket. This keeps many from truly discovering the joy of a smoke and oak sip.
That said, whiskey – with its unique depth of flavour – works just as well when stirred into an old-fashioned cocktail or poured over ice. Naturally, it’s built a reputation for being one of the most popular spirits in the world – piquing the curiosity of even the most dedicated beer, gin, and vodka-lime-soda aficionados. If you’re keen on giving ambers a shot (pun intended), we recommend going with smooth, flavourful options that are bottled by the best in the business and work well when had neat. Here’s our pick of a few that promise to be the pride of your home bar.
Smooth whiskey that are delicious from the first sip to the last
Ardbeg Wee Beastie
In the business of drams since 1815, Ardbeg is known as the ‘Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky’. Ambers from this distillery have a distinctive sweet, smooth quality that makes for easy drinking. And their youngest expression – matured for just five years in ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry – is no exception. It pours a bright auric, with notes of vanilla, pear, honey-glazed ham, Turkish coffee, fennel, leather and freshly-cracked black pepper on the nose. Every sip, meanwhile, is reminiscent of chocolate, smoked bacon, aniseed, and eucalyptus. The finish is long, with hints of fudge and barbecue. Delicious in a smoky concoction or neat, this is one of smooth whiskeys available in India and is a must-sip.
Price: INR 8,300 approx.
X By Glenmorangie
From the house of one of the most popular, luxurious whisky brands in the world – this single malt is a luscious option for first-timers. It’s aged in bourbon as well as new char oak casks, which lend it a sweet, rich flavour that works like a charm in cocktails. That said, it’s just as delicious on the rocks. Every sip comes with notes of pear, honeysuckle, vanilla, chocolate fudge, and orange sherbert. We can’t think of a more versatile whisky to invest in.
Price: INR 5,000 approx.
The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old
The brand that’s known to produce some of the most exquisite single malts in the business, Macallan is a luxurious way to initiate yourself into the world of drams. The Double Cask range comes with the marriage of the classic Macallan style of rich fruits and wood spice, with indulgent American Oak. The 12-year-old expression is also aged in European oak sherry-seasoned casks, which gives every sip notes of citrus, honey, raisins, and caramel. On the nose are hints of apple, toffee, candied orange, and vanilla custard. The finish is sweet. Warm and creamy, this whisky is as flavourful as they get. Need we say more?
Price: INR 8,000 approx.
The pioneer of single malts in India – Amrut – knows a thing or two about smooth whiskeys. The homegrown brand’s most innovative expression – touted the world’s first-ever multi-wood barrel Single Malt – is perfect for first-timers with an adventurous, experimentative palate. Featuring a mix of new American Oak, new French Oak, ex-PX sherry cask stave, and ex-Oloroso sherry cask stave – this smooth whiskey that’s available in India takes on unique complexities and characteristics of each barrel. It pours a dark honey, with notes of dried fruit, Christmas pudding, coconut cream, sticky toffee, and sandalwood on the nose. Every sip is reminiscent of spice, vanilla pudding, and wood. The finish has a minty touch that really rounds out the experience of savouring this one. Have it neat to truly appreciate it.
Price: INR 13,000 approx.
Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Known to produce the most unconventional and flavourful whiskies, Teeling Whiskey is a must-have in any home bar, especially that of beginners. The brand’s Single Malt Irish Whiskey is finished in casks of five wines (Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy, and Cabernet Sauvignon) has a fruity flavour that’s balanced and smooth. On the nose are hints of melon, figs, lemon, and toffee. Every sip, meanwhile, is reminiscent of dried fruit, citrus, vanilla, spice, and cloves. The finish is long, with a sweetness that works well in cocktails. That said, to truly tell those notes of wood apart, sip this one neat.
Price: INR 12,300 approx.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel
A malt roundup wouldn’t be well-rounded (pun intended) without a classic American whiskey. This particular brand is wildly popular – with the crown of being home to the fourth best selling spirit in the world (by value) sitting pretty on its head. This particular expression – bottled at 94-proof – is just as much of a crowd-pleaser. It features layers of caramel, spice, and fruit. Robust and complex, its warm, lingering finish makes it the perfect addition to any beginner’s home bar. The sweet undertones pair well with most cocktail mixes and the smooth quality is ideally savoured on the rocks. If you like to stick to tried and tested options, this one’s it.
Price: INR 7,500 approx.
Akashi White Oak Single Malt
Few malts around the world are as smooth as a Japanese whisky. These have a distinctively mellow quality to them – making for easy drinking. And the drams by this particular brand are no exception. Popular within Japan, Akashi has recently gained a lot of recognition in connoisseur circles. The White Oak is their flagship export – sans an age statement. It’s matured in barrels made with oloroso, shochu, bourbon, American oak, and pedro ximenez, amongst others. The payoff is notes of buttered hot cross buns, lemongrass, pice, and chocolate peanuts on the nose. Every sip offers hints of sweet cereal, nutmeg, black pepper, and walnut loaf with the finish coming in with a touch of dried apricot. Delicious when sipped on the rocks, this bottle is perfect to pick up when you’d like to savour a Japanese amber without splurging too much.
Price: INR 8,000 approx.
Hailing from the land of temples in Japan, the term ‘Kamiki’ translates to ‘breath of god,’ Every sip, hence, promises to be heavenly. Featuring indigenous cedar and pure spring water – the whisky boasts of notes of heather honey, sweet caramel, Japanese plum, toffee, sandalwood, and green tea. On the nose are notes of citrus blossom, vanilla, pine, baked apple, and apricot. Blended at its peak flavour – each batch is unique. This one works well when on the rocks or in a cocktail, like others on this list. However, considering its unique characteristics, it’s an ideal gift for someone looking to embark on their whiskey journey.
Price: INR 9,000 approx.
All images: Courtesy Shutterstock/brands
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India