10 Great Starter Whiskies

let’s begin

Everyone’s got to start somewhere, and the same can be said when starting out on your Whisky journey.

Whiskies can take some time to acclimatise to, but once you’re there, it is immeasurably worth it.

We’ve created a list of easy going drams that are packed with flavour, so you can start refining your skills and uncover your own tastes in good time.

Dewar’s 12 Year Old

Bottle cost: £24.63

This award winning Scotch is brimming with flavour, on account of having been matured for an extra 6 months in oak casks after it has initially been aged. This gives it an extra kick of flavour. The nose is full of orchard fruits, with apple blossom and grass coming through. There is a wonderfully sweet malted note in the background that gives it nice depth. The palette is fresh, with a honeyed note that adds a lovely thickness to the mouth feel. The malt really comes through, with nice cereal tones of barley and wheat. It finished with a flourish of smoke and a healthy dose of sweetness.

Ballantine’s Finest

Bottle cost: £16.41

Ballantine’s is a wonderful blend that goes down well both neat and in a cocktail. This particular recipe is the oldest in the Ballantine’s range and dates back to 1910. It is perfect for those looking for something mellow to start off with. The nose is sweet, with lots of vanilla and oak wood appearing. There is also a slight cinnamon note to add some warmth. The vanilla really develops on the palette and has a honey note to it. It is luxurious and thick. There is also a floral flavour that is slightly earthy and goes well with the vanilla. It is all wrapped up in a finish filled with white sugar and floral notes.

Copper Dog

Bottle cost: £29.95

Released by the owner’s of the Craigellachie Hotel, Copper Dog is a blended malt that captures the spirit of Speyside. It is made up of eight different malts from the region and from the get-go it is packed with typical Speyside characteristics. The nose begins with sweet fruits and a warming spice. It has hints of apple and pear being delicately dusted with cinnamon. These grow on the palette where they are joined by malt and cereal tones. There is a distinctly nutty aroma to these, introducing hazelnuts and pecans to the mix. The finish is strong, with lots of honeyed sweetness and a lovely kick of cinnamon to leave a warming tingle.

The Famous Grouse Smoky BlacK

Bottle cost: £18.03

The Famous Grouse Smoky Black is a wonderful adventure in smoke. It is elegant and warming but not overwhelming and will be a brilliant introduction to one of Whisky’s boldest flavour profiles. The nose starts with a delicate hint of peat and smoke, both of which are deep and refined. They lean towards a soft, sweet vanilla flavour that carries into the palette. The taste is nutty and spicy, with a lovely caramel drizzle over everything. This is all finished off with a lasting kick of peat smoke and a subtle hint of caramel at the end.

Aberfeldy 12

Bottle cost: £37.95

A Highland Malt, the Aberfeldy 12 Year Old is an easy-to-enjoy dram that will never let you down. It has won gold medals at several award shows including The Scotch Whisky Masters and the World Whiskies Awards. The nose is thick and rich, with lots of sherry and fruit notes. There are apples, bananas and pears to give a nice soft aroma. On the palette the fruits are coated in honey and cinnamon. There is a slightly earthy note that comes through with a rich oak wood tone. These flavours melt together on the finish, which is long and fruity.

Chivas 12

Bottle cost: £21.58

Another award wining Whisky, Chivas 12 Year Old is smooth and mellow but still packs a lot of flavour. The nose is full of sweet banana custard and oak wood. It is rich and well developed. On the palette the bananas are joined with more tropical fruits such as mangos and pineapples. These give a lovely sharpness to the mouth. The oak wood becomes sweeter and takes on a more caramel flavour, with a little hint of vanilla in it. There is also a slight hint of hazelnuts and cinnamon spice to add some warmth. The finish lingers on oak wood and cinnamon.

Strathisla 12

Bottle cost: £27.19

Hailing from Speyside, Strathisla is supposedly the oldest working distillery found in the Highlands. This malt is a particularly good example of what that amount of experience can do for you. The nose is floral with earthy characterisitcs and slight oiliness. There is a lovely malted flavour present as well. This develops on the palette, where the malt becomes more discernable and has a fuller body. there is a slightly Christmas cake note on the palette, which is moist and exciting. It has lots of dried fruit and sherry notes appearing. The finish lasts long and is delightfully warming. It wraps up with lots more fruit and a final hint of malt.

The Dalmore 12

Bottle cost: £44.45

The Dalmore is a Highland distillery that creates legendary malt. their 12 year old is the perfect introduction to the brand. It begins with a nose full of coffee and bitter dark chocolate. It is luxurious and rich, with a warmth and creaminess to it. There is also a lovely hint of cinnamon spice in the background. The palette is fruity and spicy, with lots of dried raisins and apricots. There is alsoa vanilla sweetness that has recalls the oak wood of the barrel. This is a wonderfully deep and complex dram. The finish is brimming with more coffee and chocolate notes, this time with a slightly citrus tang to it.

and for the brave… Laphroaig 10

Bottle cost: £73.95

Laphroaig Distillery is found on the legendary island of Islay and lives up to the island’s peated and seaside influenced flavour profile perfectly. It is brimming with peat smoke right from the get go. The nose is thick with oil and brine and lots of seasalt. Underneath it all is a constant whiff of peat smoke. The palette is equally big in its peated flavours, with lots of medicinal qualities as well. There is  subtle yet delicious sweetness under all the smoke, with a great vanilla quality to it. The finish is rich and thick, with peat, iodine and more medicinal flavours coming through. This is a great dram, but definite

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let’s have a chat!

Tags: 10 Great Starter DramsdramsWhiskyWhisky journey
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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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