Saturday, December 17, 2011

Best Scotch Whisky of 2011

Santa is coming soon.  What will he bring you?  Santa, if you are reading this, please take note.

Over the past year, I reviewed a number of blends and single malts.  Who were the stunners that would make excellent gifts to good boys and girls the world over?

GlenDronach 15 year old Revival ($75)
This is a sherried dram.  Bursting forth with lots of frothy red fruit, blackberry, orient spices and tobacco.  Powerful, leaving a long taste of smoke and plums.  Highly recommended for the boys and girls who like sherried whisky.

Te Bheag Connoisseur's Blended Scotch ($35)
This is not a well known blended scotch.  Very hard to find in the US, but available in Canada and the UK.

Probably the best blended scotch whisky discovery in my opinion of the past year was Te Bheag (pronounced che vek).  It's reasonably priced and delivers great flavors of tobacco, peat and sherry, woven well, with no bitterness, bite or alcohol peeking through.  I was amazed by this blend and frankly I think it disappeared off my shelf in about two weeks!

Black Bottle Blended Scotch Whisky ($20)
Another blend makes Santa's list this year:  Black Bottle Blended Scotch Whisky.  Incredibly affordable at around $20, but damn impressive if you like peat and smoke from Islay to tickle your taste buds.  Sweet peat, gentle fire smoke of damp spruce tree branches by the beach on an overcast day.  Wow!

Highland Park 15 years ($72)
Highland Park 15 years was a discovery of mine in 2010, but I revisited it (click here) again in 2011.  Simply an expensive and brilliant shining diamond of a single malt.  This malt brings together what is magical about whisky in one bottle.  You have peat and heather, honey and toffee complimented by smoke.

Johnnie Walker Green Label ($50)
Sometimes Santa needs to give a gift that he is sure is a well recognized crowd pleaser that gives a taste of all the regions of Scotland.  Johnnie Walker Green is soft honey, drizzled over toast with lemon zest, sea spray and a hint of peat that always makes those good girls and boys happy on Christmas day!

Hopefully, we have all been nice and not naughty, so that ol' St. Nick will bring us something we can enjoy over the holidays!

Jason Debly


  1. Jason, our wish lists are eerily similar. HP15 and JW Green are both near the top of my list (I haven't had either one yet). Maybe I've been reading your blog too much!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Second time I've seen the Highland Park 15 Year on a list like this today - I've tried the 13 but not the 15; really enjoyed it though.

  3. Hi Whisky Critic,

    Highland Park 15 is often overlooked by consumers in favor of the 18 yr old. That would be a mistake. The 15 is less over-the-top and a nice change. The 12 and 18 are similar but the American oak used in the 15 is an interesting departure from the 12 and 18 flavor profiles that are dominated by sherry.

    1. I love the 15 too, but over-the-top on the others? I had to turn my bottle of HP 18 around so it wouldn't see your comment and have its feelings hurt!

    2. Jeff, the 'best' of 2011, were the 'best' that i had reviewed during the past year. There are probably 'better' in the market place, but with respect to what I reviewed at the price point I can afford, this was the list I came up with.


    3. Sorry, I guess my attempt at humor failed...I was commenting purely on your observation of the HP 15 relative to the other HPs, not commenting on your overall blog post.

      My bottle of HP 18 happens to think he is extremely well balanced and in no way over the top. :-)


    4. I am a little daft at times. Thanks!

      I am reading your Mortlach review right now by the way.

  4. Thanks for the info Jason! The 15 will have to go on the holiday wish list!

  5. Jason, Our whiskey group met last evening for a holiday pop-n-pour of the current release Glendronach 15 (Revival), alongside our group's fulcrum bottle, JW Green 15. Made a wonderful pairing on the same table, and matched well with the host's smoked pork shoulder and sour biscuits. The G15 is still as good as it's been for three or four years now, a rare thing these days for well-sherried OBs at a bargain price: $80 US. We dove in and made our second ever multi-case purchase for the group this morning, three cases. Yum. Happy holidays. JK

  6. This is a sherried dram. Bursting forth with lots of frothy red fruit, blackberry, orient spices and tobacco. Powerful, leaving a long taste of smoke and plums. Highly recommended for the boys and girls who like sherried whisky. chardonnay wine