How to… buy whisky

ByThe Cocktail Lovers

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Judging by the shop window displays it seems to have been Christmas since September. However, now we are finally in the month that matters and the big day is less than three weeks away we can all really start getting into the festive spirit. And a festive spirit we’re particularly fond of is whisky. It warms us up nicely after a day’s Christmas shopping and this being the season of giving it also makes for a very welcome present.

Buying whisky can be a little daunting though. So we asked our good friend Colin Dunn, Malt Whisky UK Brand Ambassador at Diageo, for a few tips.

How much should you expect to pay for a ‘good’ entry level whisky?
“There are loads of entry level whiskies under £25, Johnnie Walker Black Label for instance, there’s so much going on that you can pick out the nuances quite easily.”

What are the key characteristics to look out for?
“It’s all about balance between the wood and the grain that give each their characteristics but kept in small compartments that don’t make it one-dimensional. I often find that whiskies change in the glass after being poured, which is where the fun begins in identifying different compounds.”

How should you drink it?
“Initially neat, so that you can then decide whether you want to add water to soften or tone down the alcohol.”

What’s your favourite whisky?

“The one in my hand! I get asked this a lot and my opinion keeps changing. At the moment I am having a love affair with Rosebank, in particular the 21 year old which exudes a perfumed fragrance and is packed with citrus notes that show off Rosebank in all its glory”.

What’s your favourite serve?

“North Atlantic Oysters served up with Talisker 57 North, sprayed on with an atomizer. This gives a peppery note to the saltiness of the oyster and gives a top note to the whisky when the salt and pepper meet in the roof of the mouth”.

The Cocktail Lovers say:
While you’re Christmas shopping take a little time out for yourself too and head to the stunning new Hackett flagship store on Regent Street. Packed with everything the well-dressed gentleman needs in the way of attire it also has something else he might like, a rather grand bar courtesy of Beefeater 24. In keeping with the sartorial setting customers can tailor their Gin and Tonics with one of three specially created tinctures; citrus, berry or winter spice. But why should guys have all the fun? We think the bar and drinks will also go down well with wives, girlfriends and shopping companions in general.

Hackett, 193-197 Regent Street, London W1B 4LY, hackett.com

This week we’re loving:
The London Eye Winter Cocktail Experience. Enjoy a couple of seasonal cocktails 135 metres above London, created by boutique gin distillery, Sipsmith London and served by an in-capsule mixologist. You can even try your hand at mixing your own cocktail. Personally though we’ll concentrate on sipping the fabulous gin concoctions and drinking in the spectacular night time London views.

The London Eye Winter Cocktail Experience, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 6pm until 4th January, londoneye.com

Satan’s Whiskers. Simple, well made drinks focusing on traditional classics and modern classics, featuring premium spirits at affordable prices. And all served up in friendly, beautifully designed, neighbourhood East London bar with a Hip Hop soundtrack. What’s not to like?

Satan’s Whiskers. 343 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9RA. Tel. 020 7739 8362, facebook.com/satanswhiskers

As featured on The Independent, Dish of the Day blog 5/12/2013

The Independent

The Cocktail Lovers

The Cocktail Lovers

The Cocktail Lovers are Mr G and Ms S, a man and a woman who share a passion for cocktails. (We also happen to be married, so we’re cocktail lovers in more ways than one…)

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