Best bottles of whisky for any budget to bring in the New Year in style

Don't toast 2018 with something substandard - we've got expert tips on the best whisky to see off the old and bring in the new.

Choosing a perfect dram for New Year isn’t easy, with thousands of different options to choose from. So we asked the Sukhinder Singh, whose passion for single malts prompted him to set up The Whisky Exchange, to get his advice on what to go for, no matter what your budget.

Sukhinder has around 9,000 bottles in his private collection housed in the boardroom at The Whisky Exchange HQ. His vast collection spans decades and could form the basis of a whisky museum – but then how could you enjoy them?

Sukhinder always suggests focusing on what you really like rather than buying for investment. However, there are a few full bottles in the collection that won’t ever be opened, he says ‘I’m dying to try them but I can’t, if I can find a second bottle, that’s the time when you get a few friends together to enjoy it’. His most valuable bottle? The first bottle he ever bought, he says, because it started the collection.

Sukindher’s picks start from around £50 – but we’ve two unmissable picks for under £40 and under £30 as well.

Under £30: Pierre Le Duc Armagnac, £27.99

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Not a single malt, but an unmissable bargain nonetheless. This beautiful, almost-40-year-old Armagnac is for sale at Aldi, whose spirits buyers have an astonishing track record of digging up barrels of wonderful stuff – they recently had a 26-year-old  Irish single malt whiskey for sale at £39.99 which was a dream dram. This Armagnac is just as impressive and (unlike the whiskey) still in stock. Wonderfully smooth and rounded flavour, with notes of dried fruits, maple and dark chocolate with a delicious long finish.

Under £50: Bowmore 15 Year Old, £49.95

This superb whisky from Bowmore has recently been named The Whisky Exchange’s Whisky of the Year for 2018, as voted by whisky-loving consumers in a blind tasting. This 15 year old single malt offers an elegant balance of sherry influence and the distillery’s fruit and peat characteristics – fruit spice and cinnamon meet tropical fruit and green apple. This is a surefire hit for most whisky drinkers at Christmas.

Under £70: Compass Box Hedonism, £65.95

Chiswick-based Compass Box is led by founder and whiskymaker John Glaser, a man who never tires of pushing the boundaries of blended whisky. This is a terrific blended grain whisky that is supple and silky, with elegant, rich flavours of vanilla, toffee, coconut and cocoa.

Under £100: Glenfarclas 15 Year Old, 103° Proof, £80.65

For those who like a little more punch in a sherry-cask whisky, this exclusive bottling of Glenfarclas 15 Year Old for The Whisky Exchange is ideal. Bottled at cask strength (most whiskies are diluted slightly before bottling) it’s the 58.6% abv, or 103° proof, that gives this whisky its name.

Best enjoyed with a little drop of water, this deliciously rich whisky offers notes of spicy fruit cake, earthy liquorice and oak.

Under £250: Mortlach 1991, 25 Year Old Sherry Cask, Signatory, £227

Sherried whiskies are definitely the hit for Christmas and this 25 year old won’t disappoint. Independent bottler Signatory released this as part of their Cask Strength Collection and it’s another punchy one at 56.3%. It’s chocolatey, and meaty, and laced with rich fruit – this is one for a real whisky lover.


Money no object: Port Ellen 1981 33 Year Old, £7,000

Just 210 bottles of this 33-year-old Port Ellen were released making it a genuinely unique gift for the ultimate whisky connoisseur or collector. Port Ellen whiskies have become particularly collectable since the Islay distillery closed in 1983.

The whisky is smooth and initially sweet before moving into a coastal character that’s typical of Islay but with a spicy note too.

A little bit of everything: Perfect Measure Whisky by Flavour tasting set, £44.95

Perfect Measure sets are the ideal way to discover whisky without spending on a whole bottle. This perfect gift set explores five of the most common styles. The set contains a 3cl sample of each whisky, a tasting glass and tasting notes. A superb way to explore the varied taste of single malt.