10 Essential Whiskies Everyone Should Try

There are plenty of whiskies on the market today.  But the question that faces those new to the whisky world is where to start?  Where does one begin to look when first starting out on the whisky journey?  While there may be no definitive answer, here is the GreatDrams 10 Essential Whiskies Everyone Should Try…

1.    Talisker 10 Year Old

The Talisker 10 Year Old is a brilliant single malt, incorporating a rich fruitiness with a peaty tang to finish it.  It is a good place to start drinking whisky as it has so many obvious and great characteristics, presenting the perfect embodiment of peated malt.  It opens with a citrus and fresh fruit burst, a raisin-like sweetness that moves into a great seaside, peat smoked briskness, a heralding to its Isle of Skye coastal home.  The Talisker 10 Year Old is also a member of the Diageo Classic Malts selection, proof that it is not only a great single malt, but also a well renowned Scotch in its own right.

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2.    Glenmorangie Original 

A true classic, the Glenmorangie Original, a 10 year old single malt, is a great whisky for anybody looking to try a dram for the first time, or those of us who are well seasoned in whisky drinking.  It is delicate and presents an excitingly complex palate.  Highlighted throughout with notes of soft, creamy vanilla, this is uplifted by the floral and fruity notes that entwine throughout this whisky.  The Glenmorangie presents a contrast to peated, smoky whiskies with its bold sweet and flowery flavours.  This is definitely worth a taste if you’re new to whisky and remains a definitive malt for those who have been dramming for years.

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3.    Johnnie Walker Red 

The biggest selling Scotch blend on the market, Johnnie Walker Red Label is a must try for all whisky drinkers, even if its just to see what all the hype is about.  The Red Label brings together fruit and spices that perfectly compliment each other and ahas a full and hearty palate.  Opening with spicy cinnamon and pepper overtones, these are met with pear and apple notes that serve to enhance each other, and like the other Johnnie Walker blends, the Red label has a smoky finish.  Johnnie Walker has a lot to live up to and the history and perfection of this company and their blends is perfectly summed up in their famous Red Label.

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4.    Laphroaig 10 Year Old 

Laphroaig is a malt that epitomises a good whisky.  It is well renowned and respected in the whisky world and the Laphroaig 10 Year Old is one of the distilleries finest malts.  From the very beginning of tasting the 10 Year Old, you are hit with an explosion of smoke.  It is full bodied and packs a delicious punch.  Like the Talisker, it harkens towards its coastal home with hints of seaweed piquing the taste buds, a saltiness that is soon followed by a delightful vanilla sweetness.  This is a brilliant Scotch with a beautiful palate that invites the drinker to analyse it and love it!

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5.    Glenfiddich 12 Year Old 

The Glenfiddich 12 Year Old is a true legend amongst whisky enthusiasts as well as being the best selling single malt in the world, a true testament to its brilliance.  One of the best Speyside malts, the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old presents all the characteristics of a malt from this region.  It is fruity and uplifting to begin with, with s subtlety of pear in its flavour.  This fruitiness develops in a creamy sweetness with hints of butterscotch and malt flavours that complement the fruits that frame them.  If you’ve never had a dram of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, then I highly suggest you do right now!

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6.    Macallan 12 Year Old – £74.00

The Macallan distillery produces some of the best whisky available and the 12 Year Old itself is a very highly respected single malt.  The word that epitomises the Macallan 12 is fruit.  From the very moment it hits your tongue, to the second it slides down your throat, the 12 Year Old is a taste sensation of dried fruit and saccharine dreams.  It combines a delicate fruitiness with a honeyed and floral sweetness that intertwines with the rich oak and spice that can be found in the finish.  The Macallan 12 Year Old is a perfect contrast to some of the smokier malts available and is definitely worth investing in.

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7.    Monkey Shoulder – £24.88

The term “Monkey Shoulder” has an interesting background that is embedded in the making of Scotch.  When workmen had to work a long shift turning the malting barley, the constant pulling of the shoulders would make their arms hang a bit like that of a monkey, and so the phrase “Monkey Shoulder” was born.  The blend itself is made from three Speyside malts that are married together in a marrying tun from anywhere between three and six months.  The blend is then tasted by Monkey Shoulder’s Distillery Master, who ensures that it is smooth enough to be bottled.  Monkey Shoulder has vanilla tones throughout that are perfectly contrasted with hints of spice.

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8.    Highland Park 18 Year Old – £86.77 

Although it may not be the biggest seller on the market, the Highland Park 18 is one the best whiskies available and is loved by those in the industry itself.  It combines a rich woodiness with a peated smoke that both work perfectly to present a natural and earthy flavour.  This full-bodied malt then offers up a palate of sweet honey alongside more peaty goodness to marry all the flavours together in harmony.  Running alongside the sweet peated overtones of this malt are aromatic toffee notes that perk up the flavour and add a certain softness to the flavour.  If you are seeking to indulge more in the world of whisky and all the treats it has to offer, then the Highland Park 18 Year Old is the perfect introduction into the industry’s favourties.

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9.    Glenlivet 15 Year old – £37.34 

The Glenlivet Distillery is one of the most famous in the world and is highly regarded amongst the distilleries in Scotland.  The malt that is made here lives up to this standard and the 15 Year Old is one of the finest Scotches available.  Matured in French oak, the 15 Year Old is rich and aromatic.  Its flavours are spicy and nutty, with hints of cinnamon and almonds, providing a dull but sensuous base for the fruity, buttery palate to develop fully.  This is the perfect whisky to buy if you are seeking to discover truly good scotch and is the best introduction to a distillery that lives up to its legend.

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10.  Ballantine’s 17 Year Old – £53.54 

The only other blend on the list, Ballantine’s 17 Year Old is a fine whisky.  It is a mix of malt and grain whiskies from all over Scotland and marries together some of the biggest flavours available.  In the nose it presents sweet vanilla alongside a vibrant smoke that are the perfect introduction for a beautifully complex palate.  The taste incorporates the sweetness of honey, as well as furthering the vanilla undertones, and issues up a salty liquorice bite at the end.  The 17 Year Old is full bodied and full of flavour and is the perfect whisky introduction for being both a good Scotch and a good blend.  This is definitely worth investing in.

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Do you agree with our list? What would you add or remove from our 10 Essential Whiskies Everyone Should Try?

Photo credit: Bearfaced via photopin cc

Tags: DrinkWire


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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