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SAM Wylie-Harris rounds up the best wee drams to celebrate St Andrew's Day (November 30) HIGHLAND FLING THE northern Highlands are home to rare vintage malts such as Balblair Vintage 1999 2nd Release Highland Single Malt (PS69, 70cl, www.whiskyshop.com). It's matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks and the Balblair vintages (the previous was the award-winning Vintage 1997) are unique, distinctive and complex. Released earlier this year to the duty-free travel market, at last we can try the rich, honey aromas, fruit cake and spice on the palate with notes of toffee apple, vanilla and a gentle, warm, spicy finish.

MASTER OF THE GLEN A CLASSIC Speyside malt that's light and fruity, Glen Moray Single Malt 10 Year Old Chardonnay Cask (PS25, 70cl, Sainsbury's) is aged in ex-chardonnay casks which used to hold Chablis. Elegant and fruity with heather, honey and pears leading to caramelised fruit and butterscotch, a dash of still water will increase the aromas and complement the flowery finish and notes of toasted oak.

BLEND IT LIKE BECKHAM DAVID BECKHAM has given a new lease of life to Scotland's oldest grain whisky distillery, Cameronbridge in Fife, and after years in the doldrums, Haig is enjoying a renaissance thanks to DB raising awareness of Haig Club (PS44.95, 70cl, www.thewhiskyexchange.com). A wheat grain whisky that's fruity and spicy with sweet butterscotch on the nose, caramel and creamy toffee notes and a smooth, light, mellow texture.

BLACK BEAUTY AN Islay blend that originated in Aberdeen, Gordon Graham's Black Bottle (PS19.95, 70cl, www.thewhiskyexchange.com) has had a makeover with a new look black bottle. Originally the black glass came from a German manufacturer, so after the First World War, packaging switched to green glass. The secret blend closely resembles the original 19th century recipe. The smoky Islay influence contains malt from seven of the islands distilleries and its fresh and fruity with hints of spice and peat leads to a smoky, rich mouthfeel with a sweet, honeyed, lingering oaky finish.

FOR PEAT'S SAKE LOVE it or hate it - Laphroaig is the Marmite of whiskies. If you're testing the waters for that pungent, medicinal TCP character this Islay malt is famous for, then Laphroaig Select (PS34.16, 70cl, www.masterofmalt.com) is the perfect dram for fans of a mild whiff of peat-reek, iodine and seaweed. Along with tar, salt and deep smoke, the palate offers a gentle sweetness with spicy, floral notes and a sweet core before the warm finish. Aged in select European and American casks, there's even a hint of nuts and sugared almond from the influence of wood.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 23, 2014
Words:436
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