As the chill sets in, we begin to light fires and don cosy slippers, warm woollens and search for flavours that entice us to comfort. After a long summer, the elements are making themselves known through rain and wind.
There’s no need to give up your favourite tipple if you’re a gin lover - savour these earthy, complex botanicals that will bring the wild Hebridean isles close to home. Or melt into rich chewy autumn fruits and toffee of a rich, experimental whisky with our favourite winter spirits for easing into the cooler months.
And with World Whisky Day coming up on May 21, 2022 closely followed by World Gin Day on June 11, 2022 we wanted to be sure you had some of our best selections on hand.
The Botanist, 700ml, 46% abv
Islay may be known for the robust peat bogs that fuel and flavour their iconic whiskies, but the isle itself has much more to offer. The Botanist represents the land and people that make Islay so special – including the 22 botanicals that are foraged by hand from the island itself.
The flavours of The Botanist are herbaceous, sweet, slightly floral, and tinged with menthol – you can almost picture yourself on the island after a fresh burst of autumn rain. The warmth of menthol and earthiness of cassia and coriander opens to fresh citrus before rounding off in the delicate, warming spice of cinnamon, juniper and wood sage.
Take your time and enjoy each and every layer in this gin designed to showcase the natural flavours of Islay. There is delightful complexity in this dry gin that lends itself to slow sipping in classic simple serves like a gin & tonic or in an old-fashioned with marmalade and thyme.
Winter is a time to savour the careful selection of these botanicals and be transported to an island in another time and place – where the wild seas crash against rocks and peat moss but the smell of the forest is sweet.
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane, 700ml, 43% abv
The Glenfiddich distillery is found in Speyside and the name means ‘Valley of the Deer’. It took William Grant a year to build in 1887 with the help of master craftsmen and his nine children. The first drop of spirit ran from the still on Christmas Day that year and since then, Glenfiddich has continued to pioneer the industry in everything from cooperages, to art and design, and more recently, to experimentation with casks and finishing.
This whisky expression was first released in 2018 and pushed the boundaries of traditional Glenfiddich flavour profiles. You don’t find much peat bog in this particular part of Scotland, so Glenfiddich whisky is usually unpeated, but to make Glenfiddich Fire & Cane, the malt master takes smoky peated single malt matured in bourbon casks and allows it to rest in rum casks for another three months before bottling. The result is a golden hued spirit with soft, earthy peat smoke on the nose followed by toffee and zesty fresh fruit.
The palate is full of sweet apple crumble, fresh green fruit and gentle oak before finishing with the gentle hint of sweetness, spice and campfire smoke. This is a sweet and smoky treat to enjoy with chocolate and candied ginger, even a gingernut at the end of a long day.
Tash McGill is an international spirits writer, educator, and judge. One of the head judges for the NZ Spirits Awards, The Drammys and The Junipers, she has been involved in the spirits industry for more than 10 years and loves helping people enjoy great spirits. She is Chair of the New Zealand Whisky Association and co-author of the New Zealand Gin Guide 2021.