Best whisky to start with for beginners in 2023
Why should you start drinking whisky?
Whisky is like a form of art and science. The years of knowledge and expertise of individuals condensed into a formula followed by distilleries to make their very own signature style that differs greatly from another.
Though often compared to wine appreciation, the differences between whiskies are more pronounced with some being smoky and another being fruity. These bold differences ensure three things:
1) Everyone will definitely find a whisky that they enjoy
2) At the rate new whiskies are being bottled at, there are heaps of unique flavors waiting to be uncovered, making whisky appreciation an ever-exciting hobby
3) Unlike wines where most of the bottles are somewhat similar, whisky bottles have greatly different designs that further increases their collectability
Now that you understand why whisky appreciation is getting increasingly in trend, you might wonder how or where you should start with the tens of thousands of options out in the market. This article will guide you through the top 5 best whiskies you can start your whisky appreciation journey with!
What kind of whisky should you start with?
Here's how we would approach whisky appreciation!
When looking to start a hobby, price is definitely a concern; you wouldn't wish to drop a bomb on a few whiskies only to find yourself disliking them and stowing the bottles into a cupboard for it to never see the light of they day.
For beginners, we would definitely recommend starting with single malts or a blended whisky. If these terms are unfamiliar to you, refer to our blog on the introductory guide to whisky!
Do note that the following recommendations are listed in no particular order and are all distinct in their own ways; with that said, here are our top picks:
We will never stop recommending this entry-level Highland Single Malt for beginners! There's a reason why this bottle won a double gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (2021). A warm and comforting drink that is full of character yet not overpowering enough to put off newcomers, at its ridiculously low price point, the Tomatin Legacy is a definite must have!
"This is for you if you enjoy something with depth, layers of flavors like vanilla, cream & spice unveiling themselves to make the whisky feel more interesting" — 3MK
Tasting notes (from the Master of Malt):
Nose: Lemon, panatella and pine forest. Slightly green with vanilla.
Palate: Cracked pepper and sweet barley with pineapple cube sweets. Waves of warming oak beneath.
Finish: Sweet but peppered.
When making a list of whiskies to try, of course we can't miss out on a smoky one! Enter the Bowmore 12, a great introduction to smoky whisky as it has just the right amount of smoke mixed with sweetness, ensuring that newcomers will not get overwhelmed by the smoky notes.
"One of the best first touchpoint for beginners to Islay" — 3MK
Nose: Coastal smoke and ash soon make way for bergamot, orange zest, lemon slices and some hay before becoming rather floral, heather smoke now competing with the ash.
Palate: Lovely and rounded, honeyed even, initially. Vanilla, perfumed smoke and coastal elements develop. Dark Peat. Blossom, oily sweetness.
Finish: Smoky and long. Sea spray, dry grass, a touch of ash and citrus.
Known largely as the Islay whisky that is unpeated, the Bunnahabhain is much more than that. This is one of the smoothest 12 year old whisky that can put even older whiskies to shame! A complex, light and fruity single malt that's a reliable pick for any occasion!
"A classic choice of a single malt that won't go wrong." — 3MK
Nose: Fresh, sweet. Seaweed, malt.
Palate: Soft, supple. Sherry, nutty. A little sweetness, malty, juicy sultana. Slightly coastal.
Finish: Sherried, mochaccino, herbal, balanced salty tang.
Glen Moray Sherry Cask
When it comes to whiskies, sherry cask matured whiskies are treated almost as a premium. Many whisky lovers enjoy the bite of a good sherried whisky which is why the Glen Moray Sherry cask makes this list!
"A very easy to drink Speyside with just the right amount of sherry at unbelievable value" — 3MK
Nose: Raisin and milk chocolate, with a backbone of butterscotch sweeties.
Palate: Cinnamon starts to develop on the palate, giving it an enjoyable warmth. Still rich in caramel and butterscotch.
Finish: Medium length, with a hint of five-spice.
Compass Box Hedonism
A perfect example of blended whisky being just as good as the best single malts! This one is a blended grain whisky by Compass Box, a company well known for its blends.
"Incredibly moreish, creamy and perfectly fitting of its name." — 3MK
Nose: From the first delectable introduction, Hedonism is all ripe fruit, fraises des bois and sponge cake. Some red pepper provides an interesting point to mull.
Palate: Very sensual, disarmingly sleek and creamy. Black cherry and sweet spices, some cereal notes.
Finish: Very warm and spiced, toasty, some oak and milk chocolate.
As you may have noticed, this list is made of whiskies that you probably may not have heard of if you are not a regular in the scene. Instead of recommending brands that you can find everywhere (think Macallans and Glenfiddichs), we believe it is more valuable to cast the spotlight on brands that taste incredibly good but may not be as well-marketed as big brands like The Macallan.
For people that are just looking to start their own whisky collection, we believe that the price-value ratio is important hence why all of our recommended whiskies are within the under $150 price point!
Give these whiskies that we recommended a slot in your shelf and we promise you will not regret it! If you are a skeptic, drop us a message here to book a tasting slot where you can give the abovementioned whiskies (& more!) a taste before deciding which ones to purchase!
What good is a hobby without company? Moreover, whisky appreciation is a hobby that gets exponentially more fun with companions! Join our Telegram community of like-minded whisky appreciators as we exchange notes and chat about all things whisky here: Whisky Community SG.