7 whiskies to suit any budget this festive season


‘Tis the season to drink whisky, falalalala lala la la.

Year-end festivities are always a good reason for enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike to splurge on our favourite malts, and this year there’s a number of pretty decent releases worth blowing that expected year-end bonus on.

But if you’re not sure what’s good to put your money on, we recommend a flight of seven whiskies ranging from an interesting yet extremely budget-friendly sixty-nine dollar blended whisky – yes you read that right – to an ultra premium expression clocking in at over $2,000 that will takes your breath (and that one-month bonus) away.


1. Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Wine Cask Blend.

Johnnie Walker‘s Blender’s Batch series of limited edition whiskies has been pretty interesting to say the least; while the first edition, the Johnnie Walker’s Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish, wasn’t quite made available in Singapore, the Bourbon Cask & Rye Finish was launched here to some acclaim earlier this year.

The latest to be released here is the Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Wine Cask Blend, which began as an experiment by master blender Jim Beveridge over ten years ago where he aged Johnnie Walker spirit in casks that previously held wine. Blender Aimée Gibson then faithfully continued the experiment, composing an entire orchestra of flavours reminiscent of a vanilla crème brûlée – complete with burnt sugar crust – topped off with fresh cut berries. The finish can be a little short for some, but its saccharine profile does make for a fantastic gateway tipple for those not normally predisposed to drinking whisky.

Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Wine Cask Blend (70cl) is available at Cold Storage with a recommended retail price of S$69.00. While stocks last.

[Photo credit: Highest Spirits]


2. Glenfiddich Experimental Series IPA Cask.

Take some used ex-bourbon oak casks, stick some India Pale Ale (IPA) inside –  in this case, specifically made by Speyside Craft Brewery for this purpose – to season for a number of weeks, remove the beer and replace with matured whisky from Glenfiddich to age for a further three months. What do you get? The world’s first single malt Scotch whisky finished in IPA-seasoned casks, of course.

The Glenfiddich Experimental Series IPA Cask may sound off-beat, but the marriage of beer and whisky in this case works very well (our friends over at Parched also agree). The Challenger hops used in the beer impart a citrusy twang and a pleasantly bitter finish to complement the signature apple, pear and vanilla notes of Glenfiddich. We only wish that the beer used to season the casks were sold in Singapore as well; it comes out at a robust 9% ABV after interacting with the wood.

The Glenfiddich Experimental Series IPA Cask is available in travel retail at DFS Singapore Changi Airport at a recommended retail price of S$81.

[Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography]


3. Highland Park Valkyrie.

Orkney-based Highland Park continues to tap on their rich Viking history and mythology – as they did with the Warrior Series launched here back in 2014 – for one of their latest special edition single malts, the Valkyrie. Devotees of Norse mythology would know the Valkyrie as the fearsome female warrior angels that scour battlefields to bring the valiant dead into the afterlife, and here the Valkyrie is the first release of a three-part Viking Legend limited edition series.

The Valkyrie is predominantly driven by sherry-seasoned American oak casks and ex-bourbon casks; it’s a dark ethereal beauty with punchy, sweet spiciness balanced by hints of lingering smoky, smouldering heat. Not unlike Tessa Thompson’s character in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, really.

The Highland Park Valkyrie is available at a recommended retail price of S$165 at good bottle retail shops such as 1855 The Bottle Shop.

[Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography]


4. The Macallan Edition No.3.

The third release of The Macallan‘s limited Edition series is the Macallan Edition No. 3, a collaboration between the Scottish whisky maker and master perfumer Roja Dove. Unlike Edition No.2 – which built upon Edition No. 2 by partnering with award-winning restaurant El Celler de Can Roca for a culinary-driven whisky – the newest release unites the worlds of whisky and aroma into one.

Once haute British perfumer Roja Dove picked out the kinds of aromas he’d want in the whisky, The Macallan’s whisky maker Bob Dalgarno chose specific oak casks that would exude those sensory characters. What you get here is – thanks to the use of a myriad of first fill and refill American and European ex-bourbon oak casks – a combination of sweet vanilla, fresh orchard fruits with an overarching floral character. But we’ll respectfully disagree with our friends over at Highest Spirits who’ve named Edition No.3 their favourite of the series; our vote goes to Edition No.2.

The Macallan Edition No. 3 is available at the recommended retail price of S$190.00 at 1855 The Bottle ShopOaks Cellars and Olde Cuban.

[Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography]


5. Glenmorangie Astar 2017 Edition.

The first Glenmorangie Astar was initially released in 2008, its name in Scots Gaelic meaning journey as a hat tip to the epic voyage the bespoke oak casks – used to cask-finish mature Glenmorangie spirit – took to travel from the Ozark mountains of Missouri all the way to Speyside in Scotland. The Glenmorangie Astar 2017 Edition (pictured above with Glenmorangie’s Head of Maturing Stocks, Brendan McCarron) is a faithful, if slightly more modern take of that highly-coveted special edition single malt.

Now the original Astar came at a very powerful 57.1% ABV – which is very unusual for a distillery that preferred its whisky around 40-43% ABV – exuding strength and power that Glenmorangie Director of Distilling & Whisky Creation Dr Bill Lumsden had described as “the Glenmorangie Original on steroids”. The newer version comes in at a more modest 52.1% ABV, still far higher than the distillery’s usual core offerings. Once you get past the heat, expect creamy vanilla and sweet spice notes to dominate the nose and palate with some overarching tropical fruitiness and nutty fudge.

The Glenmorangie Astar is available from Le Vigne Wine & Spirits at the recommended retail price of S$218.

[Photo credit: Daniel Goh]


6. Bunnahabhain 12YO Single Sherry Cask.

We’ve always admired Islay-based distillery Bunnahabhain – mostly for sticking to making really good unpeated whiskies in a region that specialises in those deliciously smoky peated whiskies – and this sherry cask-aged expression is a great example of that.

The Bunnahabhain 12YO Single Sherry Cask (pictured above, first from right) is one of a number of single cask whiskies specially selected by local whisky bar Quaich Bar to celebrate its tenth anniversary, and its owners have picked out a winner. There’s a generous malt sweetness underlying notes of some fruitiness and nuttiness here, and at a powerful 55.5% ABV this sipper has a lingering finish that is sensual and intoxicatingly-rich.

The Bunnahabhain 12YO Single Sherry Cask is available from Quiach Bar at a bottle price of S$398. It is also available by the dram.

[Photo credit: Jessica Chan]


7. Yamazaki 18YO Mizunara 2017 Edition.

Japanese whisky maker Suntory has been riding a wave of unprecedented interest, and stocks have run so dry in recent time it was forced to turn to releasing an entire range of no-age statement whiskies – such as the Hibiki Harmony – to combat the shortage. Thankfully the newly released Yamazaki 18YO Mizunara 2017 Edition could be a welcome sign that the days of drought may just be over.

For the uninitiated, Mizunara is a type of oak that grows in Japan. And while the use of Mizunara may sound newfangled, it’s actually not – Suntory has been experimenting with using Mizunara casks since the 1940s. It even loaned casks Scottish distillery Bowmore – owned by subsidiary Beam Suntory – to make the Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish back in 2015. The Yamazaki 18YO Mizunara 2017 Edition (pictured above with Suntory’s chief blender Shinji Fukuyo) takes a blend of whiskies aged in various Mizunara casks between 18 to 50 years, and the combination exudes exuberant Oriental spiciness in sandalwood and Japanese cedar in its bouquet and palate, and a lingering, gripping finish that’s the hallmark of long oak-aging.

The Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 Edition is priced at US$1,500 (S$2,034) for a 700ml bottle. Available at premium whisky bars such as The Auld Alliance and specialist spirits retailer The Oaks Cellars.

[Photo credit: Daniel Goh]


And if you’re still looking for rarer and more expensive whiskies, check out Diageo’s 2017 Special Release Collection of whiskies here.