Whisper Whiskies

Shhh… Have you heard the latest? There’s a new style of whisky in town. It doesn’t have an age statement on the label and it looks quite pale in the glass. It doesn’t smell of peat smoke or charred oak barrels, the texture is notably light and the flavour is subtly fruity. Aimed fair and square at the millennial palate, it’s becoming known as “whisper whisky” and examples of the style — from the U.S., Canada, Japan and Great Britain — are multiplying at an impressive rate.

 

It’s true there have always been subtle, unpeated, light-bodied whiskies out there — a Lowland single malt like Auchentoshan is a good example — the sort of dram traditional Scotch lovers might turn to on a hot summer day. The new whisper whiskies are more likely to end up in a cocktail, especially those with a high percentage of alcohol that prevents them becoming diluted too quickly. And instead of age statements (once the way whisky defined itself) we see a fantasy name designed to be remembered and uttered to bartenders but which carries no inherent information about style or place of origin.

 

Now you may imagine that seasoned connoisseurs are dismissive of whisper whiskies; that’s not always the case. Some take a longer view. This is just a doorway, a first step into the world of whisky for a millennial who will sooner or later develop a taste for darker and more robustly flavoured spirits. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a whisky that’s clean and delicate but strong enough to survive intact in a cocktail, here are three that will give you something to shout about.

Auchentoshan American Oak

One of three remaining Lowland distilleries and the only one in Scotland that still triple-distills, Auchentoshan offers this refined middleweight dram. Think apple and citrus with coconut from the first-fill bourbon casks. Sip it on its own.

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Stalk & Barrel Single Malt Whisky

Still Waters distillery in Concord, Ont., makes this small-batch single malt, bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV). A little water smooths it out, lightens the body and releases earthy apple aromas that fade to a lip-smacking malty finish. Try it in an Old Fashioned.

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Toki

From Suntory, the great Japanese distillers, Toki is a blend of malt and grain whiskies, bottled at 43% ABV. Lightweight and dry, it has an ethereal nose of citrus and barley with a touch of oaky spice — perfect for making a very dainty Highball.

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