Want to enjoy the perfect single malt? Read on...
Single malt loyalists are a violent breed. They will fight tooth and nail (and even get their bagpipes out if it comes to that) to defend their favourite brand. Some swear by the Highland malts, others by the Speyside giants and still others would touch nothing but the Islay malts. So we got three of our favourites to square off. Here are the results...
The Balvenie Doublewood 12 Yo
Dufftown’s big bully, Balvenie is increasingly becoming a favourite with single malt-loving Indians. A product of the Banffshire distillery, the Balvenie Doublewood 12 Yo impresses even before you take the first sip. My bar counter will never be without a Balvenie if I can help it. The cylindrical cask, the golden yellow texture of the malt and the whiff of honey on the nose -- makes sure you gravitate towards this single malt, even in the company of others. This is a complex yet rich whisky, with a smooth taste. What makes the Balvenie 12Yo special? It is matured in two different types of oak casks – the American whisky oak which mellows the maturing spirit and imparts a gentle warming layer of vanilla spiciness and the European sherry oak cask, where it undergoes a few more months of maturation to bring out the fruity and honeyed depths. For us however, what the clincher is the powerful fruity aroma and the smoothness of this drink. Add a dash of water, pair it with unsalted nuts or even a sweet brownie. Best enjoyed on solitary or romantic evenings.
The Singleton 12Yo
I first came across this single malt in Hong Kong and promptly fell in love. This lesser-known of the Dufftown boys comes from the Dufftown distillery itself, and is a typical Speyside single malt. A product of traditional slow-distlliing using pure water from Highlandman John’s well, the Singleton undergoes long maturation in both a European and an American Oak. It has a deeper shade of gold compared to the Balvenie and is smooth. Given a choice many may prefer the Balvenie because of its greater depth and sweet aftertaste. But if you like a single malt that is full-bodied and unfussy then this is almost as good as it gets. We love having this straight, with no accompaniments, but if you do want to munch -- try to break the norm and have some mild cheese to go with the Singleton. Or, if it’s raining, throw snootiness out of the window and pair it with some piping hot pakoras. You will thank us. Best enjoyed with a select few friends on a chilly evening.
The Ardberg 10Yo
This one could cloud your mind and make you forget all others. We can guarantee that you will not see any single malt that is as smokey and cloudy. And boy do I enjoy it. Be warned though: This Islay single malt needs getting used to. The Ardberg 10Yo is perhaps the peatiest and smokiest single malt we have tasted. And while most whiskies are chill-filtered and reduced to a strength of 40 per cent, the Ardberg is non chill-filtered and has a strength of 46 per cent. Add a dash of water and a little cloudiness may occur. That is exactly what Ardberg is famous for. Let the drink breathe for a few seconds and take a small first sip. Roll it in your mouth. Hang on for a few seconds and take a second sip. Roll and slowly let it go down the throat. This is a personal favourite.