Malt Whisky 100’s favourite places to buy whisky

So you’ve decided that you’re going to treat yourself to a bottle of Lagavullin 16 or Coal Ila Connoisseurs Choice or a Dalwhinnie Distiller’s Edition. Where are you going to buy it from and how can you get the best deals? There are lots of retail outlets, supermarkets and websites so we’re going to share our favourite places to buy whisky and why we like them.

The Whisky Exchange

This specialist whisky retailer has a fantastic breadth of range. You can learn a lot from browsing through their exhaustive collection and there’s a really useful sidebar that gives you suggestions of other related whiskies – particularly useful if you’re looking for something new – either for yourself or as a gift.

They’re also very competitively priced and have lots of special offers throughout the site. They give comprehensive, but not too nerdy, tasting notes and you can read (and post) comments about their products from consumers. If you’re not London-based you’ll need to buy online. You can buy single bottles and there’s no minimum order. You’ll have to pay for delivery, but at £4.95 for up to 60 bottles, why not buy several at once, or make an order with friends or colleagues. One last thought – they have a plethora of miniatures so why not add on a tiny treat or two and broaden your knowledge without burning through your whole pay cheque?

www.thewhiskyexchange.com

Master of Malt

This is a specialist retailer who sells online only. They have a fantastic spectrum of whiskies as well as other wines and spirits. They have some fun and interesting gift ideas if you’re searching for that elusive top-notch present. They also offer gift vouchers which make a great present for any whisky enthusiast.

Delivery is quick and easy and they offer a flat rate charge of £4.89 for unlimited bottles to be delivered to one UK mainland address. If you’re in a hurry, take a look at their different options for speedy delivery – including before 9am the next day.

www.masterofmalt.com

Waitrose

Of all the supermarkets, Waitrose is our favourite for buying whisky. Why? Because they have range, good stock levels and most of all because they have amazing special offers. Throughout the year they promote different whiskies by discounting them, sometimes by up to 30%. When compared against wine sales that may not seem much – how many times have we all seen £10 bottles of wine slashed to just £5 each?! Too many times – especially if you’ve drunk those bottles and woken up the next day realising they were just that: £5 bottles of wine.

The same is not true of the whisky market and a discount of 30% is a real discount of 30% so fill your boots, and your trolley. A bottle of single malt whisky is a terrific Christmas present and Waitrose clearly agree. The best time of year to stock up on whisky from Waitrose (especially if you like to browse a bit and perhaps try something new) is in the 8 weeks or so before Christmas when they have a very large selection of special offers, many of which are incredibly good value. And you truly can’t beat their customer service – even with a big stick!

www.waitrosedirect.com

Tesco

If you’re starting out on your whisky journey or you’re trying to persuade a partner to buy something more unusual than another bottle of blended whisky then manoeuvre them further up the same Tesco aisle towards the shelves of the single malts.

As a general spirits retailer Tesco are very competitive on price. They tend to focus more on the entry-level single malts alongside mainstream spirits products. It’s a great place to look for special offers at the more reasonable end of the single malt range and pick up a Jura or a Balvenie at a decent price.

www.tesco.com

If you’re travelling, remember to check out World of Whiskies in the airport and online before you leave www.worldofwhiskies.com. They have travel retail exclusives and some very good deals including larger format bottles for the same high street price – spend the same but get a litre bottle rather than a 70cl one.

Those were our favourite whisky suppliers, but there are lots of other good places to shop so why not check out these folk too:

www.thedrinkshop.com

www.whisky-online.com

www.thewhiskybarrel.com

www.drinksupermarket.com

www.whiskyshop.com

www.royalmilewhiskies.com

 

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Ronnie Cox’s Desert Island Dram and why whisky’s in Vogue

Malt Whisky 100 goes behind the scenes to bring you an interview with Ronnie Cox, the Global Brand Ambassador for The Glenrothes (pronounced glen-roth-ez).

The Glenrothes Select Reserve is a soft, silky Speyside single malt whisky. It has a pale golden colour with a nose of American oak, vanilla and coconut. You could also detect a touch of plums. The palate is slightly sweet with more vanilla and some orange zest, and it has a long and slightly spicy finish. It’s very good value at a retail price of around £40 from major retailers including the big supermarkets.

Ronnie Cox is an exuberant chap who oozes energy and charisma. As we chatted, we sipped a little Glenrothes and Ronnie talked about how whisky is evolving in the modern market, his desert island Glenrothes dram and how he first got in to whisky.

Ronnie Cox © Colin Hampden-White

Ronnie Cox © Colin Hampden-White

How did you get in to whisky?

My father asked me when I was young, “what do you want to do?” I said I didn’t know, so he asked me “what do you really like doing?” and I said: chasing women, travelling and drinking!  He said “there is no way, my son, that you will ever find a lucrative job doing that”. And it took about 10 years before he gave me a warm embrace and said, as though to a prodigal son: “welcome back to the fold you lucky fellow, you’ve found your métier in what you really wanted to do”.

Glenrothes Distillery

Glenrothes Distillery

Do you think whisky has moved from being known as an after dinner drink?

Enormously, I mean a revolution has taken place. In the past, it was a derogatory term to be called a whisky drinker in this country – how times have changed.  In the 60’s a whisky drinker was somebody who would drink rather too much; in those days each house would have one blended whisky, there was no real variety. It had become a drink for an older generation.  It has now been recognised as a much more versatile drink, so whereas in the past people would have one bottle of whisky in the house, now they have three or more and it’s drunk in many more situations other than just after dinner.

A cask in the warehouse at Glenrothes Distillery

A cask in the warehouse at Glenrothes Distillery

Do you have a favourite vintage of The Glenrothes and can you tell us a little about it?

There are several vintages I absolutely adore, one of them is the 1991, which is no longer, that’s what I call a ‘desert island dram’. 1991 is about as good as Glenrothes ever gets, not because it is very old, but because it delivers the character of the distillery in a beautiful balanced way…one is the spirit and one is the wood.

The older whiskies tend to carry much more of an emphasis on wood than the younger ones, and the younger ones tend to be much more of a spirit product, so that area in the middle of the pendulum swing, is the most beautiful moment for bottling. The 1991 carries the character of the Glenrothes, the vanilla, the citrus notes, the ripe fruits, spicy notes, they’re in wonderful harmony. It also has a lovely texture which delivers everything it has on the nose, it’s got a great depth to it. That’s the most telling thing – it has a wonderful long, long finish to it.

Glenrothes 1991

Glenrothes 1991

Given how much we know already, how much more do you think there is to understand about the effects of maturation on whisky?

We have an association with the Scotch whisky research institute. They have a collection of scientists studying the effects of wood on spirit and anything else to do with maturation. There is so much more we can still learn. There are so many different variables: the wood, the variances between hot and cold, humidity. For example, every tree will give a different colour once made into a cask

From the point of view of The Glenrothes, is the consumption of single malt increasing in the world?

In the past 15 years I have seen the number of female attendees at master classes rise from 5% to 30%. Whisky’s become a much more acceptable and interesting drink. I think social media has really helped; it’s talked about in social media and magazines. People are educating themselves, it is no longer considered too complex for the layman to understand. Prices are more realistic; when you consider the price of a blended bottle of whisky forty years ago was the equivalent of an average three days’ pay; today it’s three hours’ pay.

Single malt discovery is increasing around the world.  Things like clubs, events and ambassadors, fun really, have drawn people of like minds together. For example, Brazil has the same size market as Poland in terms of single malts but has a 3 million case market for blends.

Looking at a market like Poland, it was number 35 in the world rankings in 2012, moved up the world rankings to number 31 in 2013 and doubled the sales of Scotch whisky from 11,000 cases to 22,000 cases.  That’s incredible growth in one year, and if one has a look at that and projects it forward, that gets quite interesting. There are quite a lot of countries, that show a 30-40% increase over the last three or four years and it’s simply that the younger generation is discovering you can drink it almost anywhere, you don’t have to mix it any more, you can sip and enjoy it.

Inside a whisky cask filled in 1978 at the Glenrothes Distillery

Inside a whisky cask filled in 1978

All pictures © Colin Hampden-White

 

Here are some handy links for sites selling The Glenrothes Select Reserve:

http://www.bbr.com/products-3897-the-glenrothes-select-reserve-speyside-single-malt-whisky-43%25

http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-2666.aspx

http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/glenrothes-select-reserve-whisky/

http://www.waitrose.com/shop/ProductView-10317–237674-Glenrothes+Select+Reserve+Single+Malt+Whisky+Speyside

http://www.drinksupermarket.com/whisky/glenrothes-select-reserve-speyside-single-malt-scotch-whisky-70cl-43-abv.html

Caol Ila Moch

Coal ila Moch is a fabulous non age statement peated whisky. The Whisky Events blog has a very comprehensive set of tasting notes and information.

Champdenwhite

There’s nothing to mock about the Moch

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

Bottled at 43% ABV and has no age statement.

The Whisky Exchange wrote “A hugely enjoyable romp throughIslay’s middle ground.” and I absolutely agree with them.

I got a few different things out of the whisky on tasting (as most of us do I think) so here are my thoughts.

Colour:

Light golden

On the nose:

Sweetness and iodine at first and then the smoke hits you, not too much nicely balanced. Followed by a few dried fruits before becoming tropical, melon and bananas present. left for a few minutes the banana becomes more banoffee  pie and then a little white fruit on the end all mixed in with a gentle hints of peat.

On the palate:

Smoke and peat in spades, but not so much as to unbalance the whisky, followed by sweetness and nice citrus and spice, oranges and limes rather…

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Flavor Profile Map

Whisky used to be described in terms of regionality – highland, lowland etc. It’s much more useful to learn about whisky through flavour profiles as there are so many cross overs between different regions.  Below is an adaptation of world-renowned whisky writer Dave Broom’s flavour map, originally created in conjunction with Diageo.

Click on the link below the map to hear a bit more about the four whisky flavour profiles…

Flavour Map

How Whisky Is Made

You know that wine’s made from grapes.  They’re grown on vines then they’re crushed, the liquid is fermented, aged for a bit and then bottled.  It gets sent to the supermarket or wine shop and you pick it up from there.

But what about whisky?  How’s that made?  Isn’t it incredibly complicated and mysterious?

Through feedback, readers have asked for a simple description of how whisky’s made so we’ve put together a piece of show-and-tell for you – whether you’re off to a corporate event, out on a big date or just want something new to talk about click on the link below…