I want to take you around the world in 6 drams. When most of us hear the word “whisky distillery”, it usually conjures up images of quaint old places tucked away in some corner of Scotland, full of cheery tour guides in kilts, with bits of hundred-year-old machinery still going strong. Most people would be forgiven for not normally associating whisky production with places like India, Australia, Israel, or even other European countries, and yet in the last few years whisky from places like these has stormed onto the global market. Wherever there is grain, good water, and someone to make use out of it, craft distilling has boomed.
Whiskies from far flung places are coming of age, winning vast amounts of awards, and some are truly outstanding drams. We are now living in a golden age of “world whisky’, and there’s even an international day to honour it! So to celebrate this, The Dram Team have put together a selection of some of our favourite world whiskies for you to try. Grab our latest tasting box and start exploring.
Original founders of Sweden’s burgeoning whisky industry, Mackmyra have been making proudly Swedish single malt for just over 20 years. Using locally grown barley, filtered water, and Swedish oak in their barrels, their whiskies have been winning awards all over the world. Even though they might be considered “old” in new world distillery terms, they’re not resting on their laurels. Recent releases include a whisky created by artificial intelligence, an all-Swedish smoky single malt, and the upcoming Grönt Te seasonal release, single malt whisky finished in oloroso and green-tea-soaked barrels. Intrigued? It’s in this month’s tasting box, so you’ll be able to try this one-of-a-kind dram!
Whisky making has traditionally been associated with cool climates, lots of rain and long, slow ageing processes. However, there is a growing trend of whisky coming from hot climates that’s showing they can make some truly world class whisky. Often it means adapting techniques, being innovative and embracing their own point of difference. For Amrut, in southern India’s Bangalore region, that means experimenting with different barley – the 6-row Indian strain has tighter, smaller grains, but yields more complex flavours than the 2-row European strain – and ageing processes designed for hot climate ageing. Amrut whiskies are big, bold, complex whiskies, and their peated expressions are a must try for any Islay whisky nut. We’ve chosen their classic single malt for the box, which is rich with spice, silky molasses sweetness and oak tannins.
Founded by Japanese whisky legend Masataka Taketsuru in 1934, Nikka is now one of the best known Japanese whisky brands on the market. Taketsuru honed his craft at Springbank before returning to Japan, and you can still taste the influence of those years in Nikka’s single malts today. Whisky from their Miyagikyo distillery is often similar to a light, unpeated Speyside malt, while whisky from the Yoichi distillery is mostly medium peated, similar in style to a coastal or “island” Scotch. Some of their age statement whiskies are now some of the most sought after in the world, and for good reason, so if you’re lucky enough to spot one in the wild, grab it. You’ll find the deliciously easy-sipping Nikka Days release in the box, which is full of bright citrusy notes, buttery biscuit and barley flavours, and soft creamy texture.
3 miles off the coast of Dublin, Lambay Island has been a sanctuary to an eclectic mix of wildlife, including puffins, seabirds and wallabies, and is now also home to a unique Irish whiskey. Expert cognac makers Camus bring their island-ageing expertise to a partnership with the Baring family, owners of the private Lambay island. While still a new project, they have two core releases: a single malt whiskey, finished in cognac casks by the sea; and the Small Batch, a blended whiskey also finished in cognac casks, which features in this month’s tasting box. It’s got a wonderful floral note from the cognac casks, plus zesty citrus and almond flavours backed up with a hint of spice.
Sour Mash whiskey recycles previously fermented mash as the starter for the distilling process, somewhat similar to how sourdough bread is made, and was Michter’s most popular style of whiskey back in the 70s and 80s. Owing to their unique mashbill, it’s technically neither a bourbon nor a rye whiskey, but that didn’t stop it being named The Whisky Exchange’s Whisky of the Year in 2019. Loads of rich dried fruits dominate the palate, with a subtle toasted bread aroma and lingering baking spice.
Champions of the rye grain, Vermont-based WhistlePig got their start buying well-aged stocks of Canadian rye whiskey, while building their own distillery and farm. Now quite a few years into operation, some of their releases contain their own Vermont-distilled rye, showcasing the unique terroir of the US state. They’ve also pioneered the use of Vermont oak, which introduces an unctuous maple syrup-like quality to the whiskey. In this month’s box you’ll find a 10 year aged single barrel exclusive to The Whisky Exchange. It’s a little lighter than the standard release, with grapefruit zest and herbal notes upfront, followed by dark chocolate, cloves and a hint of liquorice at the finish.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this whistle stop tour around the world in 6 drams. Of course, there are still an incredible number of distilleries in Scotland. But have you ever wondered Why so many scotch whiskies are glen-something?
Keep a lookout for upcoming posts focusing on specific countries and regions around the world, as part of a short series all about world whisky.
The Dram Team is a whisky subscription club. Every month we send six smashing whiskies to our members. It’s a brilliant way to taste more whisky, without having to buy full-sized bottles.
If you like exploring unique whisky, join the club.
Warmest whisky wishes,
Chris (Founder, The Dram Team)
P.S. I write to our members a few times a month, and I try to make the emails interesting for any whisky fan. You can get those emails by signing up here.