There are tens of thousands of amazing whiskies from around the world and it can be quite a head-spinner for people who are new to the world of whisky.
Scotland, the home of the best whisky in the world, is the obvious place to try and Scotch is the best of the best. Scotch whisky is distilled in a single distillery, while blended malts are mixes of Scotch whiskies to form new flavours. You then have some excellent whisky from Ireland, hugely popular distilleries in Japan and options from Australia, New Zealand, USA and France. In fact, there are a huge number of whisky distilleries across the world and the choice is only growing.
Whether you are looking for a new single malt Scotch to try or something completely different I have rounded up a selection of the best whisky to try in 2023. Having tasted and tested over 100 whiskies in the past 12 months, these are my pick of four of the best, most interesting whisky for those who want to discover something new or buy an unusual gift for the whisky lover who has everything
It would be sacrilege to suggest a single malt from the heart of the Cotswolds in England can stand up to the scotch whiskies of Scotland but the first ever single malt from the Cotswold Distillery can genuinely hold its own against the best whisky in the world. I first tried this in 2022 and have had a bottle to hand ever since.
Cotswold is not a complex whisky. It's a solid all-rounder full of fruit notes. Drinking it is akin to enjoying a fruit-filled dessert on a summer day. The whisky is creamy and full-bodied and while young does not have the burn of such a newly-released whisky.
My whisky preference is usually in the heavily peated range, where the smoky single malts of Islay dominate. Cotswold whisky surprised me because it is far away from the likes of Laphroig and Ardbeg. Instead it is an everyday whisky to enjoy and share with whisky lovers and non-whisky drinkers alike. It is a beautifully-flavoursome entry-level dram with just enough spice to keep it interesting. In my view it is the best England has to offer.
At just £30 from Master of Malt, Amazon and Waitrose it is also a bargain and a must-buy for any whisky fan and it is also an ideal affordable gift for a whisky lover seeking something different from the usual Scottish fare.
Based on the rugged Northern coast of Scotland, Wolfburn has the distinction of being the country's northernmost mainland distillery. It first appeared on my radar during a whisky festival back in 2019 and even from the small taster it was clear exciting things were happening at Wolfburn since its opening in 2016.
There's plenty of whisky knowledge in the area - the distillery is a stone's throw from a 19 century distillery ruin and that is the origin of the Wolfburn name.
I mentioned my love of peated whisky and Wolfburn comes with an incredibly subtle smoky flavour that acts as a wonderful introduction to the world of peat. The reason why I love Wolfburn is because it brings together so much that makes Scotch special. The balanced apple flavours mixed with a sweet honey finish make for a complex and enjoyable dram.
At around £42 from Master of Malt it is also cheaper than the equally impressive Aerolyte Lyndsay, a whisky I tried as part of the excellent Master of Malt whisky tasting set recently.
I stumbled upon the Starward Distillery when holidaying in Melbourne, Australia in 2018. Nestled in a warehouse not far from the city's spectacular beaches it does not seem like the most obvious place for a genuine world class whisky to appear. However, an afternoon enjoying the best Starward has to offer convinced me the Australians know what they're doing when it comes to single malt whisky.
Starward is now making inroads into the English market and you can grab a bottle of Nova, my favourite of the range, for around £45. The secret is the use of Australian wine barrels, giving Nova some lovely rich port notes. It's a fruity, sweet whisky that's perfect for a summer's day.
Mackmyra is a Swedish whisky distillery and Svensk Ek really leans in to its surroundings. The name translates as Swedish Oak, which is a nod to the oak barrels used to age the whisky.
I do not think it is a better option than Cotswolds or Starward but it is a very solid whisky. A good all-rounder, it has a good balance of sweetness and spice with a peppery twist. The whisky, as you would expect from Sweden, has a wintery feel to it with a slightly bitter chocolate aftertaste.
Mackmyra makes the list because a Swedish whisky is probably going to be a new thing to try for many people and Mackmyra is the best the country has to offer. It is a genuinely good dram and one that sits at an affordable £45 for a bottle at Master of Malt.2023-06-02T15:52:16Z dg43tfdfdgfd