If a bottle of single malt is too dear in the new year, take a look at this delicious new dram from Scottish Leader
Whisky is now the top-selling spirits category in South Africa – by volume and value – and South Africa ranks among the top 10 whisky markets worldwide. Whisky producers have been quick to spot our love for uisge beatha, “the water of life” in Gaelic, and whisky fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to what’s on offer on local shelves.
Leading global brand
Scottish Leader is one of the global whisky brands that has tapped into the fast-growing South African market, first launching its new look Scottish Leader Original and Scottish Leader Signature here in 2014. Evidently we liked what we tasted, for South Africa is now the second-largest market worldwide for this well-priced brand of blended whisky. As a result, last year saw the limited-release Scottish Leader 12-year-old hit local shores, making us only the second country in the world, after Taiwan, to have the seductive new blend on-shelf.
“Scottish Leader 12-year-old is a blended Scotch whisky that combines grain and malt whiskies, no younger than 12 years old, resulting in a smooth and fruity dram,” says lead blender, Dr Kirstie McCallum. “It is an exclusive whisky, with limited release in South Africa, meant for special celebrations and gifting.”
Unlike the other expressions, which have generous quantities of malts from the Scottish islands in the blend, the focus here is on the sweeter floral malts of Speyside and the Highlands. With the longer maturation in oak casks the 12-year-old brings a pleasantly mellow blend of toffee, citrus and sherry on the nose, while the complex palate offers up caramel, ginger and a gentle oakiness. Little wonder this new release picked up a gold medal at the 2016 International Spirits Challenge held in New York.
“All three whiskies share the same ‘DNA’,” says Kirstie. “It does, however, have a less smoky character than Original and Signature. In fact, there is no peat in Scottish Leader 12-year-old. What we want to bring across are the fruity and floral flavours.”
While the 12-year-old is certainly the most serious “expression” of Scottish Leader, whisky lovers can enjoy the new blend as they prefer: neat, on ice, or with a splash of water. “Whisky is there for anyone to enjoy anyway they want to,” says Kirstie. “It’s all down to personal taste. As long as whisky drinkers savour the taste of Scottish Leader 12-year-old, that’s fine by me!”
Words: Richard Holmes