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Sunday Serendipity
A Whisky Package Fit For Tasting

Fine Single-Malt Scotch ranks among our favorite late-evening sips, and judging by its steadily increasing prices of the last few years, we are apparently not alone. Bottlings of real interest are rarely bonafide bargains and, if like us you enjoy comparative tasting, the dollars can add up quickly. Just recently we stumbled on an attractive sampler of three 200ml bottles from Lismore in Scotland’s Speyside region that hits the mark for both interest and value. The presentation of handsome, custom bottles side by side in cloth-lined box is quite elegant and makes the trio into an ideal gift on its own. The whiskies inside start with a single-malt of 80 proof and unspecified age. It is the lightest in appearance of the three. On the other end of the box is a near cask-strength whisker of 100 proof, also without age indication. And in the middle of this eye-catching set is a whiskey that proudly proclaims twenty-one years of aging.

The first is a mild, comparatively elegant effort that might be best described as an entry-level malt whose restrained style makes for easy drinking. Easily found for $20-30 for a 750 ml bottle, it may not be especially compelling on its own, but it deserves the nod for as a reasonable value by the full bottle. Far more interesting, however, and a genuinely involving dram of range and depth, the 100 proof bottling is darker, deeper and richer with layered sweetness, highlights of sweet smoke and flashes of orange rind and dried apricots. Despite its lack of age indication, it is a serious whisky that would likely carry a $50 or higher price tag on its own. The center piece, its elder sibling, the 21-year-old, 86 proof opus is a rounded and smooth as expected with nicely married elements of caramel, toast, coffee and a distant hint of highland peat. If a little less youthfully forceful and potent than its younger 100-proof mate, it is a fine Scotch for slow and contemplative sipping. It sells for $115 at Beverages and More when available. We have always liked the idea of such tasting collections, but too many are comprised of tiny 50ml samples and essentially allow for but a single look. We tried a thimble-full or two of each, sat with them, sloshed them around, sipped slowly, added a little water to bring them all to the same proof (somewhere about 60 proof each) and had a grand time trying them side-by-side. This generous tasting package from Lismore, with its three bottles of 200 ml, each earns thumbs up for quality and concept. The three-bottle box has recently surfaced at Trader Joe’s stores, and at price of but $30.00, it is every bit a best buy, especially when you consider that the 21-year old portion is valued at that price by itself.

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