INTRODUCTORY DRAMS ~ Well, basically, ALL OF THEM!!
However, Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) were asked to make a list of drams which may temp a person who is unfamiliar with a dram into partaking……. so here goes…
1: Islay Barley 2009 from Bruichladdich ~ Barley from Claggan, Cruach, Island & Mulindry Farms make this dram.
Sparkling gold, only been in a Bourbon casks, which means you think of vanilla, honey and toffee notes. But also, from the Bruichladdich character you get a creaminess in the feel of the liquid in the mouth. It’s musty, dusty – wet barley smell – not cereal, but fresh, wet barley. Hint of ozone, sea, warm yet ethereal. Mushrooms, sunny, honey, alive, zesty – yet lazy. Not a sharp zing of a dram. Lovely lingering feeling in the chest. A well balanced whisky. £45 approx.
2: Bunnahabhain 18 YO ~ Totally different whisky to Bruichladdich. Again upeated whisky, but sticky, rich, thick, raisins, honey, nuts, sweet, beautiful. Like the nicest Christmas cake you have ever tasted, in liquid form. The Bunnahabhain 12 YO is nice too, but it has a slight edge. The 18 is like Mother’s milk! It will curl over your tongue by itself. £70 approx.
3: Laphroaig Select ~ This dram was made as an introductory level whisky to Laphroaig. And it works perfectly. It works as a lovely dram in itself. It is not like a watered down version of Laphroaig, it is like Laphroaig’s perfect wee cousin. So you have the feeling of Laphroaig – the peat, the ozone, the sweetness, the golden flicks, but you won’t feel overwhelmed with Laphroaig strength of character. This is bourbon based again, so this is peat and vanilla and toffee and honey. Where as the Bruichladdich has no peat, and the Bunnahabhain is very sherry influenced. About £34
4: Ardbeg Dark Cove ~ A lovely fashionable dram. This is peated and dark sherry influenced. So think of sweet & bitter dark chocolate with a smokey influence. This dram is heavier in a way than the Laphroaig Select. But, not as richly heavy in the mouth as the Bunnahabhain. About £100.
5: Leaving Islay you could try Wolfburn, from the very North of Scotland ~ from where you get the ferry to Orkney, near Thurso. This is a lovely dram ~ clean, fresh, sparkling, apricots, green bushes. An open whisky, reminds me of sweeties – cider apples, young, fresh, sappy, milky, lovely mouthfeel. Some of this dram has been stored in casks which previously held the Laphroaig whisky, so there is a hint of the peat from our dram. They now have a new bottling out called Aurora which you could try and get a hold of.
Trying a dram for the first time, remember to approach it slowly. Look at it, appreciate the colour, see if it looks oily or dry in the glass. Is it gold or reddish in colour? If it is pale gold it is probably bourbon based ~ this just means the spirit is aged in casks that previously held bourbon. If it is reddish it probably has been sleeping for a while, in casks that previously held sherry .
Smell the top notes coming off your whisky as you raise it to your lips. Smell with your lips shut, then open your mouth as you smell again. Think about walking down a street with all the different shops ~ bakers, flower shop, fruit shop, pastry shop, leather shoe shop… imagine all the smells you would get from each shop. Then see if you can find them in your glass. Go on a journey. Use your imagination. Only after nosing your dram will you take a good sip. Roll it back along your tongue and swish it around to get the most out of the flavours. Hold the dram in your mouth for a second for each year old the dram is before you swallow (roughly!) Then swallow.
Feel the dram flow down your throat and into your chest. Enjoy everything about this experience!
In truth EVERY dram is an introductory dram… it just depends on your preference for certain flavours – your preferred FLAVOUR PROFILE… in whisky parlance. If you like the look of any bottle of single malt you see, just order yourself a dram. And most importantly, this is a hobby – like fiddle playing – that requires LOTS OF PRACTISE! (luckily….)