With the festive season just around the corner, we’ve been investigating (rigorously) our favourite whiskies for 2015. A Highland, an Islay and two very distinct American whiskies ensure that there’s something for everyone to toast old St Nick this Christmas.

The Highland

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Glenmorangie Signet is a superb single malt distilled from local Cadboll malted barley and a delicious high-roasted ‘chocolate’ malt. It is matured in bespoke casks and also incorporates some of Glenmorangie’s oldest whisky, making this a deliciously rich and indulgent choice for Christmas.

Glenmorangie Signet is a deep amber colour with aromas of chocolate, coffee and mint, layered with dark treacle, spice and fruits. Rich, sweet tastes contrast with spices and bitter mocha, combined with baked apricots, orange peel and malt, finishing in tastes of fresh mint and lemon. It is rich and indulgent – perfect for those that enjoy the subtle complexities of a traditional highland malt.

Signet was first released in 2008, and has subsequently won a series of industry awards and accolades, including several ‘Gold Outstanding’ and ‘Best in Class’ awards from the International Wine and Spirits Competition, International Spirits Challenge and San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

RRP | £144.99

The Islay

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Ardbeg prides itself on being The Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered by connoisseurs around the world as the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts. Despite its smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as “the peaty paradox”.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan takes its name from the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, where only the bravest souls dare to venture. Swirling aromas and torrents of deep, peaty, peppery taste lurk beneath the surface of this beautifully balanced dram – the ideal single malt for those that the distinctive Islay tastes.

Corryvreckan has been no stranger to awards and accolades too, being named ‘Whisky of the Year’ by Whisky Advocate in 2009 and they’ve since been consistently awarding it a score over 90 (out of 100)! It’s also been awarded gold medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Jim Murray’s Liquid Gold awards.

Tasting Notes from John Hansel from Whisky Advocate:

Powerful, muscular, well-textured, and invigorating. Even within the realm of Ardbeg, this one stands out. The more aggressive notes of coal tar, damp kiln, anise and smoked seaweed are supported by an array of fruit (black raspberry, black cherry, plum), dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, bacon fat, kalamata olive, and warming cinnamon on the finish. Quite stunning…This is a great whisky!

RRP | £65.00

The Texas Single Malt

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Since its inception in 2008, Balcones has become synonymous with innovation and extraordinary world-class spirits, winning over 170 acclaimed awards worldwide. Built under a bridge in Waco, Balcones Distillery has already outgrown its 2,400-square-foot facility and is currently preparing to open a new, 65,000-square-foot facility just a few blocks away. The forthcoming distillery will help Balcones meet the overwhelming demand for its products and give its distillers the capacity and flexibility to create new, cutting-edge spirits it is already renowned for.

‘1’ Texas Single Malt: A unique style of malt whisky, Texas made, Texas proud. This product is born of hundreds of years of distilling tradition transformed by a deep sense of place. Mellow notes of sautéed pears and ripe fruit mixed with a lingering toasty malt character.

RRP | £89.95 

The Bourbon

FEW Bourbon is made by grain-to-glass distillery, FEW Spirits, based in Evanston, Illinois. If ever there was a Bourbon that proved that not all great American Whiskey has to come from Kentucky, this would be it. At FEW, they’ve crafted a particularly spicy Bourbon with rich vanilla and clove notes that will shine in an Old Fashioned or simply with on the rocks.

Tasting Notes by the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Pleasingly creamy, earthy and spicy with rye and possibly a little anise.

Palate: More spices, clove and rich black cherries, caramel and barley smoothness.

Finish: Very long and warming with wood spices.

RRP | £50 – Marks and Spencer

Something for the Non-Whisky Lover!

The Cognac

It is usually said that this « extra old » cognac is complex but rare, robust but balanced, classic but challenging the years. With its extremely long finish, its powerful aromas of oak, old leather and black pepper, Hennessy X.O is an excellent alternative to whisky this Christmas (and perfect with Christmas pud!).

This year, the Hennessy XO had a rather special redesign by British Designer Tom Dixon, creating a bold yellow gold carafe which embodies the luxurious spirit of the brand.

RRP | £188.99