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.


Benromach Single Malt Scotch Whiskies


Just a  few single malt Scotch whiskies get the lion’s share of popular attention in the U.S.—Glenlivet, Glenfidditch, Macallan can be found in nearly any bar. But there is more to the whisky world than these are mega-brands.

Take Benromach, for example. This Speyside distillery is a pipsqueak compared to, say, Glenlivet.  But it produces a broad range of whiskies—its webpage currently lists 29 different offerings:

We tried two of these, and liked them both.

Benromach Traditional (80 proof): This straw-colored whisky screams Speyside. It’s mild and show notes of honey and light peat. A chocolate note lurks in the background. Tasty, and very easy to sip neat. (Rating ****) You can read more here.

Benromach Organic (86 proof): This organic whisky is much more robust than Benromach Traditional. It is twice as dark, and it has an upfront toffee flavor, with grassy and mild vanilla flavors playing second fiddle.  There’s a nice dollop of honey on the close. This too tastes very good neat. (Rating ****1/2) You can read more here.

We are glad to meet the acquaintance of Benromach, and we hope to see more of it here in the States.  Meanwhile, you may check to see if our preferred retailer can sell you a bottle.


The Glenrothes 1991

We’re guessing there probably is not a whole lot of this lovely Scotch whisky.  It was distilled in 1991, bottled in 2006, and came to market shortly thereafter.

The Glenrothes website has a very informative web page and video at

There’s more to this Scotch than the alluringly retro packaging.  The Glenrothes 1991 (86 proof) is a very interesting drink.  It is rather viscous in the mouth, and thus very smooth.  One detects notes and flavors of orange, butterscotch, cocoa, and more.  Take it straight up in wee sips and squish it about your mouth to get the fully effect.  Mmmm…. (Rating ****1/4)

If you are lucky, you might be able to get a bottle through an online retailer.