WITH the Games due to conclude tonight, we decided to ask Mark Connelly, co-owner of The Good Spirits company in Glasgow’s Bath Street, to recommend some of the whisky stars of the Commonwealth.
It’s clear from the success of the Games in Glasgow that we share with the other Commonwealth countries, a love of sport, great atmosphere and most definitely a little bit of drama.
With so many visitors to Scotland over the last ten days, it looks like more than a few of them will go home with a new appreciation for haggis, Irn Bru and the now infamous Tunnock’s tea cake. However, one Scottish export has already left a lasting impression on many of our Commonwealth neighbours and that is our national drink, whisky.
It’s probably the worst kept secret since Kylie was revealed as the main act in the closing ceremony that many of our fellow commonwealth countries have not only embraced whisky but also its production. Some of them are now even producing whiskies that are not only competing with Scotch, but are already gold medal competitors in the whisky Games.
First up is India, a country that’s well known for its love of scotch.
Mark’s pick - Paul John Edited. Price: £43.00
‘Edited’ is an Indian single malt whisky created by Master Distiller Michael John using a mix of Indian barley and Scottish peated barley. The final whisky contains some of the peated spirit and is matured in bourbon casks.
Mark says: “Paul John is the most recent Indian whisky that we have had which shows, like Amrut, just how good Indian whisky can be.”
Next up is Australia, still relatively young in whisky production stakes, though they are really beginning to make their mark, thanks mainly to the efforts of Tasmania’s Lark distillery.
Mark’s pick - Lark Single Cask. Price: £95
Lark Single Cask is a Tasmanian single cask whisky, aged in a 100 litre quarter cask which previously held Australian fortified red wine.
Mark says: “Lark is one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Australia and they make small batch, craft whisky which is just damn good.”
New Zealand, with so many Scots immigrants and the perfect scenery, it was obvious they’d start producing whisky of great quality.
Mark’s pick - Dunedin Doublewood 15yo. Price: £76
A superb blended whisky from the now demolished Willowbank distillery in New Zealand, with complex fruit and oak flavours.
Mark says: “The Dunedin is a really great whisky, complex and rich!”
Canadian whisky has always been held in high regard, and they have the pedigree and skills to produce some amazing whiskies.
Mark’s pick - Crown Royal. Price: £29
This legendary whisky, created in 1939 to celebrate the visit of the King of Great Britain, has a blend of fifty distinct, full-bodied whiskies matured in white oak casks.
Mark says: “Crown Royal is just a classic example of the Canadian style of lighter, blended whiskies. Smooth, with a rich, lingering finish.”
South Africa whisky production has really been making waves in the whisky world of late.
Mark’s pick - Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky. Price: £31.50
Bain’s Cape Mountain whisky is a five year old grain whisky matured in first fill ex bourbon barrels. It was named the World’s Best Grain Whisky at the 2013 World Whisky Awards.
Mark says: “The Bain’s Cape is an interesting one because it is a young, single-grain whisky. But it’s sweet and creamy and really delicious!”
The Home Nations
Not to be left out we’ve picked out some of the whisky stars of the home nations, to ensure that there’s fair representation should your tastes lie closer to home.
Northern Ireland - Bushmills Single malt. Price: £30
Bushmills single malt‚ has an exceptionally smooth finish. Definitely one for those who like their whiskies light. The distinctive light fruity aroma comes from 10 years of maturation mostly in bourbon seasoned barrels. This whisky was a previous winner of the ‘Best Irish Single Malt Whiskey in the World’ at the World Whiskies Awards.
Wales - Penderyn Madiera cask. Price: £40
This Madeira finish single malt Welsh whisky was distilled in Penderyn’s unique Faraday copper still, matured in bourbon barrels and finished in rich Madeira wine casks to give it a nice light, fruity finish. A great sipping whisky.
It has already been a Winner of the Best World Whisky, Gold Medal at the 2012 & 2013 International Whisky Competition.
England - English whisky Company, Chapter 6. Price: £45
It’ll maybe come as a surprise that England produce their own whisky, but they do and it’s surprisingly good. Chapter 6 was the first readily available English Single malt. Unpeated, light in style and definitely of interest if you want to see how our English cousins do it. If however, you like your whisky a little bit punchier then check out the peated release, it’s a fiery dram.
Scotland - Famous Grouse Commonwealth Games edition Glenturret 1986. Price: £160
This was a tough choice as there were so many to choose from but in the end this limited edition malt produced specially for the Games was the perfect fit.
This Glenturret single malt was distilled in 1986 - the year when the Commonwealth games were last held in Scotland - is limited to just 1800 bottles at natural cask strength. It’s the perfect malt for those looking for a memento of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.