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8 Must-Have Whiskies For A Diehard Whisky Lover’s Bar

This World Whisky Day, stock up your bar with foolproof failsafe labels that you can also show off.

Sayoni Bhaduri

Whiskies fascinate you and after years of entry-level Scotches and bourbons, your palate has evolved. You are now looking at whiskies with more complex profiles and richer tastes. This has also led you to consider stocking up your own bar with the spirit, and here lies the challenge. 

With the vast number of whisky brands available in India and across various price points it is easy to feel confounded. While you can never go wrong with Scotch whisky there are also bourbons and new world whisky that are highly coveted. Nikhil Agarwal, a sommelier, CEO & Founder of All Things Nice and Partner at Anggel's Share, sheds light, “The types and styles of whiskies one must have is completely subjective and based on one's own preferences and those of friends and family when entertaining. I keep at home whiskies that I enjoy and whiskies for those that come over which may not be my own preference but theirs.” 

It is also worth keeping an open mind when it comes to spirits, and whiskies in particular. Agarwal explains, “The world of whisky is about discovery. There is great whisky being produced in a range of styles in all four corners of the world. If you keep your mind closed to only one style or country, you will miss out on all the world has to offer.” Scotch purists, new world evangelists or experimenting novices, everyone has different preferences and there is always something to suit these varied palates. 

The key thing to keep in mind is that expensive whisky is not always better and never judge a whisky by its age. Agarwal also adds, “Buy the style of whisky you like if you are not looking to experiment, if unfamiliar with the brands check online for tasting notes and style of whisky to see if it matches your preference.”  

Bottomline is that have a mix of whiskies that suit not just your palate but are sure to be people pleasers. Agarwal suggests a mix of single malt, blended Scotch or Irish whiskey, a Bourbon and a Rye, along with a good Japanese or Asian whisky. “Of course, a top-end Indian single malt and even a grain whisky is a must. All of this together would make your bar formidable,” he says. 

If that has left you even more confused, here are eight whiskies that a whisky-lover must have in their bar.

1. Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition

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Hailing from Ireland, we have Jameson, a popular whisky brand. But it is the variants that has us excited. The stout edition is a special one as the triple distilled Irish whiskey is further aged in oak barrels used for the famous Irish stout beer. The whiskey is a result of a collaboration between Jameson and Cork's Franciscan Well Brewery and the result is a whiskey that holds on to the original smoothness of the Irish whiskey but boosts it further with deeper notes of cocoa and coffee. 

Price: Rs 3000*

2. Dewars 12 Years Special Reserve

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This blended whisky is considered ‘double aged’ due to the six months spent in different oak casks after the initial maturation. If you’re looking for a comfortable and easy sipping whisky, then the special reserve edition of Dewars 12-years-old must be on your list. The lush fruit-forward whisky is beginner-friendly but the balance of sweet and spice makes Dewars 12 Years Special Reserve a whisky that even an evolved palate will appreciate. 

Price: Rs 5350*

3. Chivas 12-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

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An oldie but goodie whisky that has its own loyalists. With 12 years of ageing comes the nuanced balance of notes from apples and pears along with sweet spices and nuttiness. Chivas Regal is also a brand that has managed to attract a new and younger generation of whisky lovers who appreciate its provenance as well as its continued focus on quality. 

Price: Rs 3850*

4. Copper Dog

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A recent entrant in the whisky whirlwind in India, is Copper Dog blended Scotch whisky. Made from a combination of eight single malts, Copper Dog is a vivacious whisky with a lot of fresh fruit notes, honey and spices. While you can always nurse this whisky, do give a cocktail made with Copper Dog a try as well. The freshness of the whisky lends well to a whisky sour or even a classic old-fashioned.

Price: Rs 6020*

5. Ardberg Wee Beastie

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A must-have list of whiskies can never be complete without a quintessential Scottish single malt whisky. But at the same time, you don’t have to fall for age and vintages. Arberg Wee Beastie is a single malt that is aged for five years and revels in its youth. The Islay whisky lives up to the smokey peaty characteristics of the terroir. Wee Beastie is matured in ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks that add hints of spice to the deep smoke and cocoa notes. 

Price: Rs 7160*

6. Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master Select

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There is no escaping from the fact that Japanese whiskies are expensive, but if you truly love whisky you will always keep an eye out for them. Suntory Whisky is one of the foremost distillers in Japan and their Hibiki Japanese Harmony Masters Select is a fine example of Japanese perfectionism. The whisky is a blend of multiple malt and grain whisky from the Suntory Whisky stable including Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita Distilleries. We’d recommend picking this up from the airport duty-free than from retail. 

Price: Rs 18250*

7. Maker’s Mark 

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American whiskey is also a must-have in your bar. A fool-proof fail-safe bourbon you can rely on is Maker’s Mark. American oak maturation lends vanilla and caramel notes that add distinctive sweetness to the bourbon balanced by a hint of spice on the nose. The distiller continues to process Maker’s Mark by hand and experience. On average, it can take up to eight years for a batch of whisky to be ready for bottling. Also, did you know, that the red wax on the bottle is hand-dipped? 

Price: Rs 8880*

8. Paul John Brilliance

This list would of course not be complete without the pedigreed Indian single malts. One of the frontrunners in the Indian single malt race is Goa-based Paul John. Their Brilliance variant forms a great entry point to explore other Indian single malt whiskies. Notes of cinnamon, brown sugar and honey are offset with chocolate. This whisky is great to pair with food, especially baked desserts and roasts. 

Price: Rs 4800*

* Prices mentioned are applicable only in Mumbai.

Photo: Shutterstock; respective brands
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