Quintessential Scotch Whiskies: What Makes Classic a Classic

Quintessential Scotch Whiskies: What Makes Classic a Classic

Scotch has been around for centuries and has seen many different brands rise and fall in that time.

Today we have a wide and vast range of Scotches, some with histories spanning over one hundred years, some with histories spanning only a few months.

Here I’m going to talk you through some of the brands I consider to be classic Scotch brands, all of which have lasted the test of time and are loved by consumers the world over. They are all different beings, and act differently in the market, but all have lasted through the decades and centuries to be amongst the most famous, and the most enduring names in the industry.

The Classics

Of course both old and new brands have their merit, but there are some that have truly stood the test of time and have become legendary in the Whisky world, or in other terms, they have become Classics.

This can mean several different things, from success in the global market to winning awards and competitions. The one thing that unites Classic Whiskies is the fact that they strive to craft better malt and innovate with flavour. They are never content to simply sit back and leave their Whiskies to mature.

Take The Dalmore’s King Alexander III. This dram has been matured in six different types of cask, including, Madeira, Marsala, Sherry, Kentucky Bourbon, Port and Wine casks. That’s a pretty incredible maturation story, one that is the result of a drive to continually produce the best and explore new options.

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The same can be said for The Macallan’s Rare Cask. This dram is created from 16 different casks that were deemed good enough to be blended and bottled. That’s less than 1% of the casks currently maturing at The Macallan. This is a brand that is constantly pushing their product to the edge and seeing what it can do. And the result is that it becomes incredibly well renowned and will be remembered long after it has been enjoyed.

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Past and Future Combined

As well as a forward facing outlook, Classic Scotches also remember their past, and build on it. The brands that I’m going to explore have long histories in the Whisky industry that they often make reference to and acknowledge. This means they are always developing their malt while at the same time they are fully aware of what has made them successful.

The Laphroaig 10 Year Old is the perfect example of the meeting of old and new. The same recipe that was developed 75 years ago is still being used to create this expression, and it has grown to become one of the most highly regarded malts in the world. By sticking to their roots and understanding where they come from, Laphroaig are able to appreciate their past and bring the same high standards to new audiences.

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Glenfiddich 18 Year Old is another shining example of how sticking with your past is an ideal way to craft a brilliant expression, one that will always be remembered as a great Whisky. This malt is part of Glenfiddich’s core range and shows exactly what can be done by remembering what made you great in the first place. It is a classic Speysider, giving a nod towards Glenfiddich’s home ground, and is bursting with characteristic Glenfiddich flavours.

A Classic doesn’t have to be complicated

There are plenty of drams out there that are Classics simply because of their outstanding taste. We’ve explored some that are great because of their innovation and some that are great because of their roots in the past, and there are also drams that are Classics because they are simply excellent malts.

Both the Highland Park 18 Year Old and the Aberlour 18 Year Old are perfect examples of this.

Highland Park tick all the boxes of being a Classic brand, as they are innovative but at the same time they have deep connections to their roots. With their 18 Year Old, they are not doing anything exceptionally different, yet it is an award winning malt that captures the spirit of exactly what a Classic Scotch should be. It is brimming with flavours that work perfectly together, showing what can be achieved through dedication and time.

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The Aberlour 18 Year Old is the same. Aberlour are an innovative brand, but with their 18 Year Old, while they are not doing anything different, they have still managed to craft an exceptional malt.

Classics don’t have to be over complicated, sometimes the best flavours come from the simplest combinations and Aberlour and Highland Park prove that perfectly

This article is a recap based on the book The GreatDrams of Scotland.

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