Difficult to select 50 best whiskies from hundreds of references in our portfolio. Yet it is a very dangerous and inevitably subjective exercise, which I indulged. I decided that all selected references would be official releases, classics or trademarks launched more recently. Exit single casks and trading versions that will perhaps be one day a specific focus.
Let’s start with 7 essential peated whiskies: Islay of course, but not only.
ARDBEG 10 YEARS
Wrongly regarded as a peat monster, Ardbeg (and especially the 10 yo) is for us the ultimate single malt Scotch. Rightly regarded as one of the 5 best malts in the world, it will delight both fans and newcomers, men and women. Marked by soft liquorice notes, this universal single malt is a classic must try.
KILCHOMAN MACHIR BAY
The last batch of Machir Bay is our most successful one. Less dry than the previous version, it has matured and gained balance. The final bitter cold tobacco which was not displeasing to us is now more liquorice. However marine freshness remains. An Islay that became essential, and La Maison du Whisky is proud to import and distribute it exclusively on the French and Singaporean market since the creation of this farm distillery in 2005.
LAGAVULIN DISTILLERS EDITION
Launched in 1997, the Lagavulin Distillers Edition remains after 17 years a sure value as any whisky lover worthy of the name must have tasted at least once. And if the peat of Lagavulin 16 yo bothers you, do not worry. When peat is associated with sherry, result can be exciting. Both creamy and spicy, the wild and medicinal peat of the 16 yo has become soft and smoke. Finally, if the first versions distilled in 1979 became Collector, current batches have nothing to envy.
CAOL ILA 18 YEARS
In 20 years we have seen and tasted over a hundred versions of Caol Ila. Single malt flagship independent bottlers, it is also the best-selling Islay at La Maison du Whisky. With time, very smoky peat from Caol Ila is transformed into a light peat evolving on marine notes. This is what characterizes the 18 yo official, our heartfelt selection, also marked by pleasant sweet almond notes and smoked fish.
BENROMACH 10 YEARS
We have a little something for this lightly peated Speyside, inspired by the style of single malts produced in this region before the Second World War. Launched in September 2009 by the Urquhart family, owners of the distillery and of Gordon & MacPhail, it has the finesse and fruity single malts from Speyside associated with a smoky Islay. Imported and distributed in the French and Singaporean market by La Maison du Whisky, this very charming single malt has a rich aroma and flavor of an unmatched range in Scotland.
YOICHI 15 YEARS
Elected twice best single malt in the world since 2000, Yoichi belongs to the very closed group of unavoidable distilleries along with Ardbeg, Yamazaki, Lagavulin, Macallan, Laphroaig … The Heavy Peated versions reveal an oily peat, smoke, liquorice and plant. Within the standard range, the Yoichi 15 years has the perfect balance of stale smoke and aging that gives pride to sherry casks, also marked by ripe fruit.
TALISKER DISTILLERS EDITION
Talisker is, in our opinion, one of the most complex and most difficult whiskies, especially among these young expressions aged in bourbon casks. In contrast, when the aging of this single malt is made in barrels having contained sherry, one enters a world of subtle flavors when sweet spices replaced them peppery notes, where liquor amoroso sherry, softer than oloroso, has taken over the dryness of the oak tannins. The Talisker Distillers Edition is a must as La Maison du Whisky distributes since its launch in 1997.
Adapted from – THIERRY BENITAH’s selection for www.whisky.fr
Always looking for the best casks, Thierry Bénitah, CEO of La Maison du Whisky, has contributed to the recognition of Japanese whiskies with fans. Son of Georges Bénitah, founder of La Maison du Whisky, Thierry has also been promoting from the mid-2000s other fine spirits such as rum, tequila, mezcal….