Here, we have profiled a selection of whiskies recently released by distillers in Scotland's five regions to whet your appetite for Burns Night. You may find a new favourite bottle among them, or at least a jumping-off point to dive deeper into the world of modern Scotch whisky.
Speyside: Benriach The Sixteen
Benriach re-launched a 16-year-old single malt in late 2022, following a six-year absence for this age statement from the Speyside distillery's range. The new expression has been matured in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and new oak casks, for a whisky which master distiller Rachel Barrie said combines notes of "creamy malt and nutty oak spice" with the distillery's signature orchard-fruit profile. The Sixteen bridges a gap in the Benriach range (in both age and price point) between The Twelve and The Twenty One, part of the distillery's revamped single malt portfolio launched last year.
Islay: Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2012
This was one of three expressions released in 2022 as part of Bruichladdich Distillery's Barley Explorations series (alongside the Organic Barley 2011 and Islay Barley 2013). The B Corp-certified distillery began Barley Explorations as a way to investigate Islay's barley-growing capabilities; this has included the use of Bere barley, an ancient grain whose use in Scottish agriculture can be traced back thousands of years.
In other news from the 'whisky isle', Ardbeg and Kilchoman both released new limited-edition whiskies for their respective club members late in 2022. The former's 8 Years Old For Discussion single malt, exclusively for members of its Ardbeg Committee, caused a particular stir.
Highlands: Glenmorangie A Tale of the Forest
Glenmorangie stretched its innovation muscles this year with A Tale of the Forest. This single malt used Scottish ingredients including juniper berries, birch bark and heather flowers in the kilning of its malt for a distinctively herbaceous flavour. It was matured mostly in refill casks to preserve that distinctive profile and is bottled at 46% ABV.
Elsewhere in the Highlands, Talisker Surge, a no-age-statement release from the Isle of Skye distiller, went down a storm when it was released as a travel-retail exclusive in 2022 – and it's now available to buy from your favourite whisky retailer. The single malt was aged in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 45.8% ABV. Expect sweet floral and honey notes alongside Talisker's distinctive smoky and maritime tang.
Lowlands: Bladnoch Liora
This is the latest NAS single malt whisky in Lowlands distillery Bladnoch's Classic Collection. Liora was matured in new American oak and ex-bourbon barrels, which the distillery says have contributed notes of freshly cut apples, caramel and peppery spice. It was bottled as a 'distiller's strength' of 52.2% ABV without chill filtration. After being mothballed in the early 2000s, Bladnoch – located in Dumfries and Galloway – was bought by Australian entrepreneur David Pryor in 2015. Following a renovation, the distillery recommenced production in 2017, and it opened the doors to its new visitor centre in July 2022.
From a revived distillery to a brand-new one: Lochlea Distillery launched its inaugural single malt in 2022, a 46% ABV whisky matured in first-fill bourbon and ex-Pedro Ximénez casks. The distillery has been founded on principles of single-estate, sustainable production and has already been recognised by competitions including the Icons of Whisky.
Campbeltown: Glen Scotia 12 Years Old – Seasonal Release 2022
The limited-edition 2022 seasonal release from Glen Scotia is a 12-year-old unpeated single malt, matured in first-fill bourbon barrels before a 12-month finishing in Amontillado sherry casks. The distillery team says this release is warm and nutty, with "lingering vanilla notes and a mildly dry finish". Glen Scotia launched the seasonal releases range in 2020 with an 11-year-old single malt finished in oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks (the expression was popularly know as the Glen Scotia Sherry Double Cask Finish). This was followed in 2021 by a 12-year-old single malt, marrying liquids finished in first-fill oloroso hogsheads and heavily charred American oak barrels.
For more whisky inspiration for Burns Night, or for your next bottle purchase, why not peruse our Whisky Magazine tastings?