Last year my choice was a fantastic heavily sherried Glendronach from 1995. A winner of a dram, it really was the perfect accompaniment to Christmas, with its Xmas pudding flavours and rich fruity tones.
However, the one thing I felt was lacking in my selection last year was the presence of peat; that wonderful aroma which, for me, encompasses everything great about relaxing with a dram in front of an open fire at this time of year.
Therefore, my quest for Christmas crackers to have over the next few weeks has taken a turn towards smoke with one small nod, and one very big nod, in the direction of the peat fire.
As a result, my two whiskies which will take up vital space on my travels between now and the new year are the Highland Park 21 Year Old (the 40% abv version) and Lagavulin 16 Year Old. But in order to conserve room for the generous gifts at Chez Harrison this year, the Lagavulin 16 will be the smaller, more compact 20cl version.
Not only handy for throwing in the wash bag (if you've got a generously sized leather companion) but perfect for slipping in to your partners handbag (or manbag) for that overnight visit to the austere relatives who think a pint of mild ale is 'too much fun'...
And, in keeping with our current theme, this tasty little bottle will (in some retailers) weigh in at only just over a tenner. Which means for under £30 you can take two of these pocket-rockets with you on your Yuletide tour...
Lagavulin 16 Year Old - 43% - 20cl
Nose: The peat in this dram is up front, yet soft with freshly turned earth, carbolic soap, cereals, rich dark brown sugar and a surprising hint of Play-Doh. This current release also has hints of the “old bowmore style” exotic fruits, 5Alive and pinapple juice. A timelessly classic dram.
Palate: The smoke and peat manifest themselves as fresh wholemeal bread. Wisps of burnt brown sugar, some green herbs and dark chocolate covered Turkish Delight. Some crème brulee notes.
Finish: This current edition has a creamy finish which brings salty notes and chopped chillies, still all wrapped up in that delicate peat smoke and lingering fudge.
Overall: Is this the finest whisky in the sub-£40 bracket? (or here for sub-£15 for 20cl) Answers on a Christmas card please...
Available for under £30 here (for the exceptional price of £10.95!!)