You love whisky. We love whisky. Valentine’s Day is coming up and we’re in a romantic mood. Here’s our love letter to whisky.
You’re standing in front of a stall at a whisky event. A friend thrusts a glass under your nose. They don’t say anything, they just let the spirit do the talking. You’ve made a new friend. You’ve shared a moment with an old one. Best of all, there’s whisky in your glass.
Getting all misty-eyed about whisky comes easy to us, but when your job revolves around the spirit you’re obliged to be objective, critical, and thoughtful in most interactions with the drink.
But the reason why we all engage with whisky in the first place is that it’s fun. With Valentine’s Day approaching, now seems like the perfect moment to indulge ourselves and take a moment to count the ways we love the water of life.
A world in a glass
There’s a whole world inside each glass. A deep history that stretches back centuries and reveals so much about our ancestors. A reflection of the place it’s made and the people who create it. Bourbon is the definitive American spirit. Whiskey is the drink of Ireland. Scotch is that fine country’s greatest contribution (not bad considering they created television and golf). All enjoyed in every corner of the globe. A humble spirit that conquered as far as the eye can see, and the mouth can taste.
A sip can be a teleporter or a time machine. A moment later you’re in the misty Scottish Highlands or having a Highball carefully placed on a napkin in front of you in a Tokyo bar. Like Proust’s madeleine, certain aromas can take you not just to the place the whisky was made, but to a time when that smell lodged in your brain. Popcorn at the pictures as a kid. Vanilla custard on a school cafeteria sponge cake. The heady fragrance of the forest floor you walked over to get to the bus stop. Nostalgia can be triggered with just a dram.
Every palate is unique to the individual, so every connection your form with whisky is deeply personal. Only you know what inspired you to buy a whisky. To take that first plunge. What determines whether you love sherry bombs or peaty whiskies is down to your taste, and while everybody has their favourites the journey doesn’t stop with what you know. There’s always a new whisky to sample, or the opportunity to comb back through your own collection and rediscover a love you may have forgotten.
Here’s to you, whisky
Whisky is basically what you make of it. There’s no shortage of ways to play with it, from adding ice, to a simple Highball or the most complex cocktail. It can be paired with food. It can be heightened by music. We don’t while away hours online and digging through books on just anything. It’s a comfort. If you’ve ever had a whisky when you’ve had a cold, you’ll understand.
It’s people that make whisky what it is, above all else. A whisky isn’t a whisky until it’s shared. The moments you experience with fellow whisky lovers as you explore, debate, hunt, swap stories, and taste together are the ones that stay with you. There’s a community that traverses the globe that we’re all part of. Like seeing somebody in an airport bar wearing the shirt of the team you support, your neighbour on the next bar stool is a potential friend with a dram in their hand. It’s a social connector.
Here’s to you, whisky. Below are some suggestions for Valentine’s Day whisky presents, each with a reason why you’ll love them. In case the above didn’t sufficiently convince you.
Whisky for Valentine’s Day
Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old
With 25% of this Islay single malt finished in first-fill oloroso sherry casks, it’ll capture eyes, hearts, and taste buds this Valentine’s Day.
Why you’ll love it: All that smoke and sherry is sure to fire up your heart, or at least put some hairs on your chest.
Mackmyra Svensk Ek
Svensk Ek means ‘Swedish Oak’. So guess what? This whisky was matured in barrels made from oak trees planted on the island of Visingsö centuries ago, originally intended for shipbuilding.
Why you’ll love it: Sweet and spicy flavours of apple pie, toasted oak, milk chocolate, ginger, vanilla, black pepper, and cashew nuts. Sounds delicious, right?
Deanston 12 Year Old
Deanston has spent some amount of time being underrated, but people are increasingly catching on to how good this whisky is. The Virgin Oak is sublime, the 18 Year Old too, but to get to know this fine whisky maker best you should indulge in the 12 Year Old single malt.
Why you’ll love it: This is a rich, complex whisky with a unique texture. There are very few drams around like this. You can read why when we dug deeper into Deanston last year.
Overeem 5 Year Old – Batch 3 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
A standout from That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s Return to Oz collection is this Australian single malt from Overeem distillery in Tasmania. It’s been matured for five years in an Apera cask, which is an Australian fortified wine, similar to sherry.
Why you’ll love it: This distillery was founded by Casey Overeem, sold, and then re-acquired by his daughter Jane Overeem. The family has the magic touch and nobody can make Overeem whisky like them. We’re only too happy to see the distillery is once again Overeem by name and nature.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Guitar Case Gift Pack
For any Tennessee whiskey and/or music fan, this bottle of the classic Jack Daniel’s comes in a guitar case, complete with a metal guitar head screw-on bottle stopper.
Why you’ll love it: Just look at it. Tell me you would hold a bottle of Jack and a guitar case and not feel like a rockstar.