Five to imbibe this St. Patrick’s Day: an abridged guide to Jim Murray’s influential list of 2016’s World Whiskies of the Year.
This year, the fighting Irish have some competition, with world class—and well priced—whiskeys from around the globe holding their own against distilleries from the Emerald Isle. All easy drinking, the hardest part is trying to track down one of these often-sold-out bottles.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (Canada)
This Manitoba-based distillery has been producing rye whiskey for over 75 years and it seems in that time that they have nearly perfected their technique. Described by Murray as, “a masterpiece,” this elegant medium amber rye features warming aromas of spice and cooked fruit, and flavours of pepper, vanilla and oak.
Pikesville Straight Rye (USA)
This American rye whiskey was born out of Maryland’s booming rye business at the turn of the 20th century. Post-prohibition, the operation shifted to Kentucky, where the 110-proof spirit is stored in extra-aged barrels for six years. Some smokey and cocoa aromas, with flavours of honeyed rye and cloves.
William Larue Weller Bourbon (Bot. 2014) (USA)
This ain’t Weller’s first time at the derby: the Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey came second on Murray’s 2013 list and much of what charmed him at first blush remains true. The distiller helped popularize the use of wheat instead of rye, which promotes a smoother taste. Moderate sweetness on the palate and aromas of almond subdue to a long, oaky finish.
Suntory Yamazaki Mizunara (Bot. 2014) (Japan)
Bright, with notes of flowers and fruit, this elegant Japanese single malt matured in a cask made from Mizunara oak, which lends a hint of sandalwood. Hits of coconut and berry lend to its hypnotic charm.
Prices vary by country. See local spirits stockist for details.