Whisky tasting expert Alwynne Gwilt, aka Miss Whisky, shares her top tips and advice about how to enjoy the ‘water of life’ during a recent visit to Birmingham Airport, in this exclusive guide to whisky at World Duty Free.
1. Can you please tell us some of your top tips for enjoying whisky?
Take your time with whisky: if you shoot it back, it'll only burn the back of your throat and give you the shudders. Look at its colour, smell it and sip it slowly to really try to enjoy what it has to offer. Spend some time speaking to the staff in World Duty Free, explaining what you either already like in a whisky, if you have one you enjoy, or what you enjoy in food: are you more of a starter or a pudding person?
Gearing your whisky towards what your palate already likes is a nice way to ease yourself into it. And go to a whisky tasting: sitting down with a few whiskies that are very different will give you a better idea as to what you really like and what you really don't like.
2. What are your top five whiskies, available to buy at Birmingham Airport’s World Duty Free store and why?
Mortlach Special Strength: A classy, structured whisky that has a higher ABV to give it a kick, without being overwhelming. Fruity, tannic, oily and earthy, this is one to take time with.
The Glenmorangie Dornoch: A special release for this Highland distillery, Dornoch uses some peated whisky (unheard of for this brand) and some Amontillado wine casks for maturation, leaving you with a distinct nutty, fruity and smoky whisky.
Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve: A high-end release from this well-known Irish whisky brand, the Rarest Vintage Reserve uses some port casks for maturation, and much older whiskies in its make-up, creating a mouth-watering, unforgettable dram.
Highland Park Svein: The entry level release for Highland Park's Warrior Series, Svein is a great introduction to the brand, with rich smoke combined with vanillas, citrus fruit and sea salted caramel notes.
Black Grouse Alpha Edition: Oily, bold, smoky and comforting, this is the big brother to Black Grouse, the Famous Grouse's peated whisky release. Despite the rich smokiness, it's still approachable, with sherried sweetness, oranges and treacle that balance it out.
3. What are the benefits of buying whisky from World Duty Free, rather than on the high street?
The whisky companies are more frequently offering up special edition and limited release whiskies to the airports, making it a great place to find something exclusive you won't find on the high street.
4. Could you please briefly outline the differences between single malt, blended whisky and bourbon?
World Duty Free offers up a huge array of whisky options for travellers. Here are the differences between three of the main categories:
1. Single malt: made from malted barley, this style of whisky is a typically Scottish one. It indicates that all of the whisky in the bottle has originated from one distillery and, in Scotland, been matured for at least three years in oak casks.
2. Blended whisky: The biggest category of whisky is blended. This tells you that the whisky has come from more than one distillery and includes whisky made from malted barley and grain (in the UK, that tends to be wheat or maize).
3. Bourbon: While Kentucky may be the best known region for producing this spirit, it can be made anywhere in the US. It must include whiskey made from at least 51% corn (the rest tends to be made from wheat, barley or rye), and be matured in new, virgin oak casks.
5. We know you’re passionate about getting more women to enjoy whisky. What would be your recommendation for those who are new to drinking the ‘water of life’?
For those who are just getting into whisky, I would say start slowly: try a whisky cocktail or whisky highball (whisky and soda) to ease your way into it and begin to understand its flavours without being overblown by the alcohol strength.
Miss Whisky was created by London-based journalist and Canadian expat Alywnne Gwilt in 2011 out of a desire to widen her knowledge of whisky and to help increase the number of females writing about this fine spirt.
Find Miss Whisky on Twitter - @themisswhisky or visit her website at www.misswhisky.com