The finest new and rare whiskies for Burns Night 2019
by Zoe Dickens
Whether you’re a whisky connoisseur or are taking your first steps in the world of single malts, there are few occasions more appropriate than Burns Night to invest in a great new bottle. But, from big name Scotch distillers to emerging Japanese craft brands, there’s much to choose from and flavours can vary wildly depending on region, maturation and aging method. So what will those in the know be sipping this January 25? Read on for our pick of the newest and rarest whiskies to add to your collection…
Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery
Released just this week, the latest bottling unveiled as part of Gordon & MacPhail’s Private Collection is the oldest expression ever to come out of Speyside distillery Glen Grant. The 70-year-old single cask Scotch whisky was matured in Cask 2154 – a sherry butt filled on June 11, 1948 – from which just 210 decanters of the Gordon & MacPhail 1948 have been produced. Bottled at cask strength, the whisky promises flavours of dried fruit, orange zest and black pepper with a long charred oak finish and delicate smoky notes.
1948 from Glen Grant Distillery, £17,500, Gordon & MacPhail
The Lost Distilleries Blend
Single malt enthusiasts have long nurtured a somewhat snobbish attitude towards blended whiskies but, in recent years, a number of specialist whisky blenders have produced drams that can more than hold their own against their single malt counterparts. One such maker is the Blended Whisky Company and its award-winning Lost Distilleries Blend is well worth a place in your drinks cabinet. Created exclusively from once celebrated but now closed distilleries, including Caperdonich, Rosebank, Imperial, Mosstowie, Glen Mhor, Glenisla, Glenlochy, Craigduff, Port Ellen, Brora and Port Dundas, this unique blend is a chance to taste storied whiskies highly sought after by collectors.
The Lost Distilleries Blend, £349.95, The Blended Whisky Company at Master of Malt
Glen Grant 18-year-old Rare Edition
Winner of both Scotch Whisky of the Year and Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks) in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2019, this more wallet-friendly whisky from the Glen Grant distillery is the ideal bottle for those entertaining on Burns Night. A delicate nose of floral and vanilla aromas hints at a palate of caramel, cereal and raisin with a spicy, nutty finish – the perfect post-dinner dram.
18-year-old Rare Edition, £125, Glen Grant at Master of Malt
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17-year-old
It might seem blasphemous to drink anything other than Scotch on Burns Night but Japanese whiskey is having a moment right now and surely Rabbie wouldn’t have been adverse to trying a dram or two. Suntory is by far the most famous distillery in the market but Hokkaido-based Nikka is also producing some complex and award-winning single malts that have, so far, been somewhat overlooked. The Taketsuru 17-year-old was named for company founder Masataka Taketsuru and offers a bold, full-bodied flavour profile with notes of spice and oak and a smokiness that has drawn comparisons to the peaty whiskies of Islay.
Taketsuru Pure Malt 17-year-old, £250, Nikka at The Whisky Shop
Dictador Glenfarclas 1972
Not a whisky fan but don’t want to miss out on the fun? Historic Speyside distillery Glenfarclas has teamed up with Colombian brand Dictador to produce its first-ever rum. Created as part of the Dictador 2 Masters series, just 12 bottles of the 1972 will be produced with the rum originating from a single cask filled in 1972 which was then matured for a further seven months in a Glenfarclas 2002 third-fill Jerez Sherry cask to create a deep rum with flavours of date, toffee and toasted coconut.
Glenfarclas 1972, £1,300, Dictador at Harrods