Yamazaki distillery
Yamazaki distillery
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Powers John’s Lane

There are times when you need the liquid equivalent of an old woolly jumper, a whisky which makes you sigh contentedly, “I’m home.” This exemplary Irish single pot still is it. Unctuous and tongue-clinging it has the smell of supple leather, morello cherry, cigar humidor and the last of the year’s blackberries. The palate is a memory of summer with mango and passion fruit. A meal in itself. 46%, £45.25

Lagavulin single malt, aged 16 years

A long walk by the winter sea, the wind blowing flecks of salt on to your lips. The smell of tobacco pipe and smoke from cottage chimneys like burning juniper. A sip of Lapsang Souchong tea from the flask. You could find a place where all of that is possible, or you could stay at home and uncork a bottle of Lagavulin. 43%, £49

Yamazaki, aged 18 years

Japanese whisky is not some newcomer. Next year, the Yamazaki distillery near Kyoto celebrates 90 years of distilling. This is its finest example whose aromatic key is the use of Japanese oak which adds a haunting note – akin to the incense burnt in Buddhist temples – to the mix. Sherry casks add raisin and date to a juicy strawberry sweetness and a lingering, lightly bitter dark chocolate. 43%, £111

The Glenrothes Minister’s Reserve

Here’s one to pick up on the last flight of the year, as it’s only available in travel retail. The youngest element here has spent 21 years in cask, giving a savoury element to the mix: the distant whiff of gun smoke, a touch of gamey meatiness. A hint of apricots in honey enlivens the palate. One to contemplate when you return, virtuous, from midnight mass. 43%, £115

The Macallan Ruby

A new Macallan which, though there is no age statement, contains some venerable whiskies that remind you of damsons, prune and dried cherry. The fragrance hints at Turkish Delight, though the resonance of flavour also brings to mind a fine Barolo. Robust with supple tannins and considerable weight, it’s one to sip with water on the side. 43%, £120

Specialist whisky retailers include:

Milroys.co; online and branch in Greek Street, London

Royalmilewhiskies.com; online and branches in Edinburgh and London

Sohowhisky.com; online and branch in Old Compton Street, London

Thewhiskyexchange.com; online and branch in Vinopolis, London

Dave Broom is author of ‘World Atlas of Whisky’ (Mitchell Beazley, £30)

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