More whiskies to warm the belly and help me ride out the winter


This year, the District of Columbia’s weather is nearly as screwy as its politics. A few days ago I was basking on a dock in the warm sun, yanking one catfish after another from the Anacostia River’s depths. A gentle, temperate breeze blew.

Today, I look out on the sogginess left behind by the snowfall. A cutting wind from the northwest and chilly mist kept me inside most of the day.

The mercury supposedly will jump twenty degrees in the coming days. But one can be certain the warmth will prove a tease, and drizzly cool will return before the shad start coursing up the Potomac River in late March.

All of which means belly-warming whisky will remain a go-to drink in the coming weeks. (Gin and tonic season is very far off.) Here are several I have enjoyed recently.

The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve ($50): This is a very easy single malt Scotch whisky. There is no need for ice. This 80 proof malt is butter in the mouth—not that it tastes like dairy product, mind you. No, it shows barley, vanilla, and a touch of coconut aroma. Very pleasant.

Lost Distillery Auchnagie Archivist Selection ($70): The Lost Distillery series of whiskies are attempts at recreating Scotches from distilleries long gone. Auchnagie, for example, closed in 1911. This one is sweet and oozes citrus fruit and baking spices.Like the other two Lost Distillery whiskies described here, it is 92 proof and needs no ice or water. Lovely.

Lost Distillery Gerston Archivist Selection ($70): What a very different animal. Gerston is oily in the mouth and floats mild smoke and barrel aromas up the schnozz. All the action is on the tip and sides of the tongue, where salty and sour tastes are detected. Very simple and approachable.

Lost Distillery Stratheden Archivist Selection ($70): Well, this whisky is subtle devil. It offers up all sorts of gentle notes: pear, honey, apples, leather, and tobacco. Impressive, and definitely one for the more discerning quaffer.

Talisker Storm ($50): Last does not make least. On the contrary, this 91.6 proof malt is a gentler version of the famously robust Talisker 10-year. This amalgam of whiskies (aged 3 to 25 years) is full flavored, yet light on smoke. The mild orange peel aroma surprised me.  For sure, this is way more intense than the Glenrothes or Lost Distillery whiskies. So the Scotch newbie should approach it with caution.

Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky ($70): Taste this spirit and you’d be forgiven for thinking it is some of Scotland’s finest. In fact, it is made in India. Fusion is a big, smoky drink, one that has gotten raves from whiskyheads. One gulp and the 100 proof warmth flows from lips to the navel. Whoa.

Thank goodness for whisky, which can buck me up in the evening so I feel less loath to put on my parka and take my old labrador on her walk. Although, I might probably could skip the coat after a slug of Amrut Fusion.

Kevin R. Kosar is the vice president of policy at the R Street Institute and the author of Whiskey: A Global History and Moonshine: A Global History. He is the editor and founder of . This column also was published by the American Spectator.


Cragganmore 21-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Cragganmore 21 Year Old 2010

This rare malt was distilled in 1989, slept in American oak casks, and bottled in 2010. Not much of it is left, certainly. Only 5,856 bottles were taken to market. This Speyside whisky is 112 proof (56% ABV).

The Scotch Noob has a nuanced review of this Cragganmore 21-year that is nuanced, but ultimately disapproving. We’re a bit less jaundiced on this one. It is a light, dry whisky, showing light notes of orange marmalade and heather, along with a hefty dose of grain and barrel. If there is peat in it, one must strain to taste it. This malt is a bit humdrum for such a rare bird. (Rating: Good)

Read more about Cragganmore at  To source a bottle, try and Wine-Searcher.


Glenkinchie 20-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Glenkinchie 20-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Whoa—this incarnation of Glenkinchie, a fine but too little known whisky, is 55.1% alcohol (110.2 proof). Nevertheless, this Lowland Scotch is easy sipping, offering notes of grain, cream, mint, cocoa powder, and honey. It is lightly peated and quite lovely. (Rating: Excellent.)

Read more about Glenkinchie at  To source a bottle, try and Wine-Searcher.


Highland Park 12-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky


Ah, baby #4 arrived and all is well—so time to celebrate by finishing the last of this Highland Park 12-Year. It retails for $40-$60 a bottle. It is lightly peated and an approachable 86 proof (43% alcohol). The viscosity makes it pleasurable to swish about the mouth. Anyone looking for an example of what good Scotch tastes like should try Highland Park 12-Year Old Scotch Whisky. (Rating: Very Good)




Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Ardbeg UigeadailUigeadail—easy for the Scots to say!

We are big fans of Ardbeg, having tasted reviewed a number of its whiskies over the years. (See here.)

Uigeadail (roughly, “oog-a-dal”), which means “dark and mysterious place,” 54.2% alcohol by volume, or 108.4 proof. Nonetheless, we enjoyed it neat. It won the highest praise from Jim Murray, and his fellow whiskheady, Ralfy, too.

This is a marvelous whiskey, heavy with peat, and showing sherry flavor. It is well worth a taste, but novices beware—it has big flavor. Ardbeg Uigeadail sells for $55 to $75 a bottle. (Rating: Very Good)

Read more at, and try to order a bottle through our preferred retailer by clicking here.