I'm going to remember 2013 as the year I fell in love with whisky...
It started with The Macallan and their recently unveiled 1824 Series: Amber, Sienna and Ruby. They are all single malt whiskies, with names representing their natural colours, which develop from their length of time in oak sherry casks. While Amber [RRP $105] and Ruby [RRP $220] were both mighty smooth, my favourite Scotch whisky was Sienna [RRP $160] - it captured my imagination with oranges, vanilla, figs, raisins and ginger.
Straight off the back of this, I met Sam Simmons, the global brand ambassador of another Speyside producer: The Balvenie.
He furthered my education by teaching me how to drink whisky: "Flirt with it - make her want you!"
He also told me that whisky drinkers are “the most promiscuous drinkers" of all, changing partners more often than other drinkers. Some whisky drinkers keep a harem of different whiskies.
My favourite of this range was The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel [RRP $120], which combined vanilla, butterscotch, delicate spicing, and honey with a peaty smokiness that gently reminded me I was drinking whisky. We enjoyed it against a collective menu at Chiswick that included a salad of heirloom tomato, watermelon and feta; jamon, grilled ratatouille, basil and olives; pickled vegetabels with avocado and dukkah; and a ceviche of kingfish, chilli and lime.
Of course no evening at Chiswick would be complete without Moran family lamb...
...and a host of other dishes which we tried against The Balvenie's 12-year, 17-year, 21-year and 30-year whiskies. To my (admittedly novice) whisky palate, the 15-year was where it was at.
You can see another visit to Chiswick HERE.
65 Ocean Street, Woollahra
Ph: (02) 8388 8688
Finally, if those whiskies are a bit rich for the budget – or you just want to support Australian made – take a look at Hellyers Road Distillery in Burnie, North West Tasmania. After trying the more expensive Scottish cousins, I admit I didn’t love the Hellyers Road Original Single Malt Whisky [RRP $80.50/700ml] straight away. The flavour is quite big on cereal, but over the course of the bottle, I have become quite the Aussie whisky convert!
For me it drinks best with the subtle companionship of Fever-Tree Ginger Ale; but I am also partial to a tall glass of Hellyers Road Whisky, cold milk, maple syrup and Niuean vanilla (buy it at Herbie’s Spices) as my last drink before bed. If creating your own nightcap sounds too much like hard work, Hellyers Road Distillery also produce a lovely Whisky Cream [RRP $37.50/700ml] using rich Tasmanian cream. You can buy direct online, or pick up a last minute bottle at Camperdown Cellars (Darlinghurst) or Porters (Pyrmont) if you’re still searching for gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people…