Whisky: the best, tried and tested

From bottles to gift sets, if you're buying a present for you or someone else, we've done the hard work for you

Best whisky for Christmas

by Adam Binnie |

There's no better time to peruse our procured whiskys for the tastiest and most sophisticated flavours as chosen by our in-house liquor connoisseurs.

Whisky is undergoing a renaissance, but it isn’t likely to go the way of gin - where everyone seems to be battling to have the most unique and eye-catching mixture of botanicals or flavoured mixes including Parma Violet (yes, it’s real).

Over recent years plenty of whiskey distillers, both old and new, have been developing new and interesting takes on one of the world's oldest and most venerable of drinks. This means there's a huge variety and plenty of potential for an unusual gift for a whisky enthusiast that thinks they've seen it all.

Related: Best gifts for wine lovers

We could have chosen so many different whiskies to cover in this article, but we decided to give you a selection to try. If you're new to whisky drinking there's something here for you; if you've been drinking whisky for years, we urge you to sample some of the new and upcoming brands. Whatever you choose, every one of them has an interesting story to tell.


How did we test the whisky?

Our four testers - Stuart Adam, Sophie Knight, William Lobley and Adam Binnie - are all whisky drinkers and were keen to try out a variety of new and exciting whisky. Each whisky was tested neat to keep the comparisons fair, and each one was tried from a sober position.

Which type of whisky should I buy?

It can be confusing choosing a whisky, but we're here to make it simple. There are three compositions of whisky to choose from:

Single Malt – Made exclusively with malted barley, water, and yeast.

Grain – The main ingredient is corn, wheat or both.

Blended – A combination of single malt and grain whiskies.

Then we come to types of whisky:

Scotch - It shouldn't be surprising to hear that this is produced in Scotland. Scotch can only be legitimately called Scotch if it is made from malted barley, be aged for no less than three years and made in Scotland.

Irish - Guess what - it's made in Ireland! Irish whiskey is traditionally triple distilled in a copper pot - Scotch whiskey is usually double distilled.

American - Made in the USA, spelt with an e and aged in new charred oak barrels. It's usually sweeter and less smoky than Scotch or Irish whisky.

Japanese - Growing in popularity, Japanese whisky is smooth and delicate.

If you want to know more about the difference between single malt and blended this is a good place to start.

Sophie Knight is Editor of WhatsTheBest and Contributing Editor for Mother&Baby, Closer, Heat, Yours and Empire websites.

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