What makes an exceptional moment? It could be anything, from an impromptu night out with a couple of friends to an elaborately planned feast for the entire family. But when it all comes together in the right way, it makes memories that will be treasured for years to come. During the holidays, it seems apropos to go the extra mile, and have a special whisky on hand.
Being surrounded by our loved ones reminds us that whisky is meant to be enjoyed—whether it’s in a glass by itself, on the rocks, in a cocktail, paired with a dessert or any other way you enjoy it. Even simply gifting the perfect bottle helps to set the tone for the most memorable of holiday get-togethers. This quartet of Scotch whiskies from Diageo’s Rare & Exceptional portfolio, representing some of the most treasured of Diageo’s vast holdings of aged spirits, helps create exceptional moments wherever you are and whomever you’re with at this festive time of year.
Dessert With a King
Ewan Gunn, Diageo’s senior global brand ambassador, describes his favorite exceptional holiday moments as:
“the calm after the storm—when the presents have all been opened, the meal has been cooked and devoured, and everyone is finally able to slow down for a while. That’s when a dram of something special gets opened.”
Something, for instance, like John Walker and Sons King George V. Created as a tribute to the monarch who gave Johnnie Walker its first Royal Warrant, King George V is a blend of whiskies from distilleries that were active during his reign, which ended in 1936. Classic malts like Caol Ila and Cardhu, along with incredibly rare whiskies from legendary, now-shuttered distilleries like Port Ellen (which is, happily, soon to be reawakened), combine to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts, a sophisticated symphony of sweetness, smoke and spice. While it’s an unforgettable dram on its own, when paired with an indulgent dessert like a Madagascar vanilla crème brûlée, it transforms a delicious holiday meal into an exceptional one. The dessert brings out notes of roasted nuts, dried fruit and cinnamon spice in the whisky.
Talisker and the Fine Art of First-Footing
One of the favorite holiday traditions of Gunn is what’s known in his native Scotland as first-footing:
“In the north of Scotland,” he explains, “it’s considered good luck to be the first person over the threshold after the new year begins (the ‘first foot’ over the door), so many people will take the midnight bells outside and then knock on a loved one’s door with a dram for sharing. This was always a tradition growing up and one that I still follow.”
An ideal whisky for first-footing is Talisker’s 25-Year-Old expression. Many whisky drinkers are familiar with Talisker, but few have had the privilege try this thrilling extra-aged expression of the venerable whisky. Talisker has been made on the Isle of Skye since 1830, and the flavor of the remote, windswept island comes through in every sip: salty sea air, briny seaweed and of course, Talisker’s famed smokiness. But 25 years in oak has imparted a delicate richness, with fruit and even floral notes making themselves felt. Intense and complex, Talisker is a most exceptional malt whether served neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail made utterly unique by the whisky’s distinctive flavor.
Mortlach: A Cocktail to Remember
Mortlach 20-Year-Old single malt is a cut above the whiskies that usually come out for a cocktail hour. Known as “The Beast of Dufftown” for its rich, bold flavor, this Speyside whisky is matured exclusively in European oak casks. Two decades of aging lends a smoothness and a lightly mellow touch to its naturally robust flavor, making it perfect for both sipping and cocktails. Try Mortlach 20-Year-Old in an Old Fashioned for a luxurious holiday tipple. Its extraordinary flavor belies how easy it is to make—simply add sugar, bitters and water to a mixing glass and muddle until the sugar dissolves. Add some ice and Mortlach 20, stirring for a few minutes. Strain into a rocks glass with a large block of ice and garnish with a cherry and a slice of orange peel. Gunn notes:
“the rich intensity of Mortlach 20-Year-Old stirred down in a classic Old Fashioned is an indulgent and delightfully decadent way to round off an evening.”
An Indulgent Moment with The Singleton
The Singleton of Dufftown is distilled in Speyside, the youngest of the area’s seven distilleries currently producing whisky, but “young” is a misnomer—its distinctive onion-shaped stills have been in operation since 1897. The shape of the stills produces a whisky with bright and beautiful green-apple notes. The 25-Year-Old expression, aged in American ex-bourbon barrels and European sherry casks, adds some spice and nutty notes known as rancio, creating a beautifully balanced malt that tastes like it was made to be paired with rich, luscious chocolate. A bittersweet chocolate torte amplifies both the fruity and spicy notes of the whisky. It makes a glorious end to any meal, especially a seasonal feast with family and close friends.
Gunn describes the holidays as the season “when we take the time to just be in the moment, with the people we care about most in the world.”
These Rare & Exceptional whiskies help make those moments even more special and more unforgettable during the holidays or whenever you decide to pour a dram. Learn more about the Rare & Exceptional portfolio, and find out how to acquire your own memory-making malts.