If you’ve the means to buy an Oban 14 or a Macallan 18 whenever a decanter frees itself, you’ll probably want to saunter on past this post. However, if you like whisky but aren’t crazy about spending a good portion of your income on it, let me take a few minutes to tell you about some of my favourite everyday whiskies. I’m not going to include links because most distillers' sites are obnoxious in one way or another, and I don’t have a favourite whisky-reviews site, but a quick search should point you in the right direction.
I’m far, far away from being a connoisseur of any kind—I have had several people tell me that regular consumption of hot peppers have killed most of my taste buds—but I have a basic appreciation of whisky, enough to at least be able to say what I like and what I don’t. I imagine that most people would consider the following to be “good” whiskies, but of course your tastes might—actually probably—vary from mine. Anyway, all this to say that I’m not going to embarrass myself trying to point out notes of green apple or hibiscus or library book and just confine myself to a few broad descriptors.
I’ve quoted current prices from Quebec’s liquor stores to give you an idea. You’ll probably pay less elsewhere in Canada, a fair bit less in most of the U.S., and don’t even talk to me about Europe.
The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey
I only briefly paused at this bottle the other day, but then I recalled the wonders of technology and fired up my mobile Internet gateway to find a few recommendations for the Tyrconnell. Emboldened, I brought a bottle home.
At $43.50, this is more grand larceny than a simple steal. It’s a light whiskey, no peat at all, a fruity nose with a honey taste. I haven’t tried a lot of Irish whiskey, but this is by far the smoothest that I’ve had.
I was also really excited to hear that its maker, Cooley Distillery, was one of the only independent distillers of single-malt whiskies in Ireland, but alas it was purchased by Beam Inc. a couple years ago. Oh well, still tasty.
This is drying up in my local SAQs, but it’s been a favourite for a couple years now. It’s single malt but not vintage, meaning that it’s a blend of batches produced in the same fashion from the same sources.
In my opinion, the Waves has the perfect mix of peat and fruit. It’s a mild smoke on top of smooth caramel. Velvety goodness. It’s $55 a bottle, and I prefer it to the few other, more expensive Bruichladdichs I’ve tried.
As seems to be my fate, I was delighted that Bruichladdich (“Progressive Hebridean Distillers”) was one of, I believe, only two independent distilleries in Islay, but it was sold to Rémy Cointreau last year.
Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky
I’ve only bought one bottle of this, but again it was due to recommendations online. It is a bit spicy, but not really in a piquant way, more like cloves or cinnamon. Quite comparable to a decent Scotch. Alas, the details have fallen out of my memory, but at $56.25 it’s only a buck and a quarter more than the Waves, so I’ll get another bottle for sure if I can’t find more of the Laddee.