WHISKIES OF THE YEAR 2018: RICHARD’S PICKS
Contributing editor Richard Woodard chooses two contrasting single malts and a high-end blend as his favourite whiskies of 2018 – but the connections between these apparently disparate whiskies are there beneath the surface.
We begin on Islay, and this year’s Ardbeg Fèis Ìle bottling, Ardbeg Grooves. It offers the distillery’s trademark smoke, but allied to a sweet, perfumed element and a ‘feral’ note that conjures an image of mice running amok in a shed. For all its animalic qualities, it’s beautifully balanced.
That poise links it to our second whisky, along with an Islay connection. Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Ghost & Rare Port Ellen Edition is, on the surface, self-contradictory, as it is a blend that celebrates a single malt. Thankfully, it’s a whisky that showcases the blender’s skill first and foremost – a hedonistic glass, but never overdone.
We close with the new 30-year-old single malt from Highland distillery Tomatin. Like the Walker blend, it is utterly seamless in its delicate mix of creaminess and soft tropical fruit. A subtle and ethereal whisky that builds slowly and never feels the need to shout.