As the Japanese, Taiwanese, Aussies and, closer home, the likes of Amrut and Paul John have shown, good single malts need not be from Scotland. Here, we take a look at interesting — and award-winning — whiskies from across the globe:
Milk & Honey Apex, Israel
Israel has numerous theological attractions and breathtaking landscapes. Now, you can also add single malt to the list. Over the past decade, several distilleries have sprung up in the Holy Land — Pelter, Golan Heights, and, among others, Milk & Honey — who put the country’s sunny weather and Mediterranean climate to good use.
Milk & Honey (M & H), set up in 2014 in Tel Aviv, has a range that includes a classic young single malt, a sherried single malt, aged in kosher sherry casks, and a peated malt.
Their latest launch, though, is particularly interesting. The Apex, distilled in Tel Aviv, is matured at the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth. According to M & H, the whisky is strong and intense, with a French vanilla nose; and warm and spicy on the palate, with a candied ginger finish.
Brenne Estate Cask, France
Before she collaborated with a third-generation cognac producer who was trying his hand at distilling a single malt in Cognac, Allison Parc was a professional ballet dancer. Around 2012, Parc traded her pointe shoes for the barrel and launched Brenne in the United States.
Brenne is twice-distilled in copper alembic stills and then matured for six years in French Limousin Oak and Cognac casks. The whisky is said to have perfumed fruit and French patisserie aromas and notes of banana and tropical fruits on the palate.
‘Colkegan’ might sound Scottish, or Irish, but this one’s actually made in Santa Fe, in New Mexico, at an eponymous distillery set up in 2010 by Englishman and former architect Colin Keegan.
The whisky is made from malted barley and aged in various oak casks. The big difference is that instead of peat, Keegan smokes his malt with mesquite, which is native to America. The result, says Santa Fe Spirits, is a smooth and mellow spirit, with an engaging, smoky complexity.
Penderyn Myth, Wales
Penderyn, founded in 2004, is Wales’s first distillery in over 100 years and its all-women blending and distilling team was mentored by the renowned whisky consultant Dr Jim Swan.
Penderyn, which recently opened a new flagship distillery, produces a range of whiskies — from the Welsh Gold Madeira (which is aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in ex-Madeira wine casks) to the Myth, a single malt that is finished in ex-bourbon and rejuvenated oak casks.
Starward Fortis, Australia
The Starward Fortis Single Malt whisky had its moment last year at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in which it picked up a bunch of awards. Starward’s range of whiskies, which include the Sticky Toffee Apple single malt and Two-Fold double grain whiskey, is distilled and matured in Melbourne, which enjoys warm summers and crisp winters. Fortis is aged in American Oak barrels that have once held shiraz and cabernets. According to the folks at the distillery, you’ll discern, among others, Madagascan vanilla pods on the nose and chocolate ganache on the palate followed by a long, viscous finish.
Mackmyra Svensk Ek, Sweden
Mackmyra was conceived in 1999 by a bunch of friends out on a ski trip. The distillery, located near Stockholm, released its first single malt in 2006 and has since kept a good thing going with a collection of fine spirits, including the refreshing Brukswhisky.
Mackmyra uses local Swedish oak to age the spirit (Svensk Ek literally means Swedish Oak), which imparts a spicy character to the whisky. If you are looking for a smooth, light whisky, Svensk Ek is your kind of dram.