Why blended whisky is the perfect choice for Burns Night on board
by Jonathan Ray
Even for heathen Sassenachs such as me, Burns Night is a beacon in an otherwise drab and dreary landscape. And, like many a poor soul clinging forlornly to the January water wagon, I’m apt to fall off in spectacular fashion on the 25th of the month.
Whisky is a popular tipple among yacht owners. Roman Abramovich toured Eclipse around some of Scotland's best whisky distilleries by superyacht last summer, visiting Jura, Bute, Arran and Islay – taking in the Laphroaig distillery en route. Although most folk crack open their finest single malts in Burns’s honour, I will be enjoying a top-class blended whisky. About nine of every 10 bottles of Scotch are blends and they are a surprisingly easy way to spend £15,000 on whisky. Blends can range from your everyday £10 supermarket hooch to the £150,000 Tribute to Honour, a 45-year-old blend from Chivas, bottled in a diamond-encrusted porcelain decanter created by Garrard, the royal jewellers.
In fact, Chivas was the first to create a luxury whisky: Chivas Regal, a 25-year-old blend of grain and single malt whiskies launched in 1909. It soon became the yardstick for blended whiskies and is a truly global brand, selling 4.6 million cases a year.
The latest Chivas Regal offering – the Icon – is an absolute delight. Launched in Dubai a few months ago, it is now available around the world in duty-free only, ideal for superyachters passing through the smarter airports.
Ridiculously smooth and supple, with chocolate, vanilla and hazelnuts and a long, lingering honeyed finish, the Icon is blended from top-quality whiskies drawn from more than 20 distilleries, including Strathisla, Longmorn and Glen Keith. I would argue that this gives the whisky a depth and a complexity that can sometimes be lacking in single malts.
Johnnie Walker, of course, is the other great name to have on board when it comes to de luxe blended whisky, as anyone who’s sampled their Red, Blue, Green, Black, Double Black, Gold or Platinum Label or Explorer’s Club Collection blends will know.
The perfect JW whisky for superyacht owners this Burns Night, though, is clearly Odyssey (£570, masterofmalt.com), a blend of three single malts presented in a nautical crystal glass decanter and housed in a box that enables it to swing back and forth following the motion of the ocean while always remaining upright. Where better to break a January of abstinence than on deck, watching the sun go down.
Wineonomics: The best Scotches for Burns Night
The inaugural edition of Chivas Regal The Icon, priced at £2,265 a bottle, is already a collector’s item. For the cost of a dozen bottles you could also buy…
- 24 bottles of Isle of Skye 50 Year Old, an extremely rare (only 400 bottles were produced) blended whisky with a high malt content aged for 50 years in oak. thewhiskyexchange.com
- 77 bottles of 1989 Bowmore Port Matured, a multi-layered sumptuous, single malt from Islay, aged for almost a quarter of a century exclusively in old port casks. [bbr.com](www.bbr.com)
- 604 bottles of Glenmorangie, A Midwinter Night’s Dram, a one-off single malt whisky that’s singularly soft, smooth and warming. Buy from Glenmorangie and have the bottle engraved. glenmorangie.com