When you’ve got the choice of around 450 whiskies – as we have in Bascule Bar - how do you pick which one? Simple, seek out George Novitskas or Bradley Jacobs, Bascule’s Manager and Assistant Manager and ask their expert opinion.
In the meantime, this brief explanation of different whisky regions and their characteristics will help you confidently say, “I’d like a shot of Karuizawa please!” Never heard of it? It’s a Japanese whisky no longer in production, but its rarity value and light peaty character make it a very fine choice!
Here’s Bradley’s guide to whisky regions of the world and which whiskies to sample from them at Bascule:
Scottish Regions Lowland: the rolling fields of the Scottish lowlands give fresh floral notes to the whiskies that are lighter in both colour and body. Glenkinchie 12 year old is typical of this region.
Highland: heathers covering the scenic rugged mountains help flavour Highland malts and cask maturation gives body. Glenmorangie is a beautiful example of Highland whisky.
Speyside: over half of all Scottish distilleries are in this region, which produces elegant, soft, delicate whiskies with gentle flavours of honey, vanillas, apples and pears. Try a Glenfiddich 12 year old and you won’t be sorry.
Campbeltown: this very small coastal region only has three distilleries, with the briny flavours of the ocean coming through in the whisky. Try a Springbank 12, 15, 18 year old at Bascule. Islands: the five main whisky producing islands off the west coast are Arran, Mull, Orkney, Skye and Jura.
Their whiskies have moderate peaty characteristics and a salty ocean influence. Highland Park 12, 18, 25 or 30 year old from Orkney will give you a distinctive Island taste. Talisker is also typical and is the main single malt in Johnny Walker Red label.
Islay: this inner Hebridean Island is known for heavily peated whisky with a strong medicinal whiff. A Laphroaig or Lagavulin will sort out the men from the boys! If you like Johnny Walker Black label, try the Caol Ila, which is main smoky flavourant in JW Black Label.
Irish Whisky: triple distillation makes Irish Whisky light and delicate with soft grassy, citrusy and fresh summery flavours. Give the Bushmills 10 year old a try.
Bourbon: only made in USA, the difference is the use of minimum 51% corn rather than barley. This produces a certain sweetness with flavours of caramel, butterscotch and rich spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Bradley says, “it sends me straight back to my mum’s kitchen when she’s cooking Christmas cake.”
Try the Woodford’s Reserve and notice the rich long finish of spices on your palate.
South Africa: Three cheers for Three Ships Whisky from South Africa, whose 5 year old won the ‘World’s Best Blended Whisky’ in the World Whiskies Awards 2012. If you want to be proudly South African, this is the whisky to drink!