It was a bold plan. Find a whisky rookie – someone who liked Scotland’s greatest export, but knew little about it – and get them to taste some of our drams.

Anna Tatham, a Scotch-and-Coke drinker from Leeds, was the brave volunteer, and here is what she had to say about seven randomly selected whiskies

1 The Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut

The smell of this whisky was something of an inferno. The first whisky I had drunk without Coca-Cola for as long as I’ve been alive, and my eyes, safe to say, were watering. Pungent hits of malt jived with sweet honey flavours, which shot immediately through my nostrils and down to my throat.

The taste was deep, musky almost, and I could immediately picture myself smoking a cigar, sat on an armchair by a crackling open fire while I swirled a dram around a tulip-shaped glass. The malt is full, with sweet hints alongside, vaguely reminiscent of vanilla. And it does mix harmoniously with Coca-Cola, much to my delight.


2 Longrow

This whisky was a lot lighter in colour than others I’ve seen before - perhaps encouraging my palate to preempt a lighter rum taste. And lighter it certainly was; the whisky was super smooth and subtle, giving me vibes of a gust of fresh air on a spring day.

The warmth built gradually - tingling my tongue in the process – and revealed a medicinal taste. The sensation in my mouth was smoky with a hint of nuts and salt which stuck around for a few minutes after tasting. This whisky comes across as young and excited, keen to experiment and be a bit different.


3 Macallan Double Cask

The sweet aromas of spices like ginger and nutmeg, combined with citruses such as orange provide a nice and autumnal introduction. It reminded me of celebrating Christingle as a child.

But by Jove, despite the ceremonious introduction, Macallan is definitely a strong one. My eyes watered before I could even catch a sniff.

A contender for one of the smoothest things I have ever had in my mouth, Macallan gives tinges of citrus sweetness that pirouette around the palate. I’m reminded of a rich fruit cake fragrant with winter spices – my first thought is how well it’d go in a Christmas cake.

It tastes richly oaky, yet concurrently fruity; I didn’t want it to end. The colour is a beautiful shade of gold, similar to melted butterscotch. It’s a dessert in itself. Please sir, can I have some more?


4 Rock Island

At first glance I thought this was rum. This is the lightest-coloured whisky I have ever drunk, and potentially may ever drink again. The smell was fresh and uplifting, like a gust of fresh air atop a munro.

To be fair, drinking it made me feel like I was atop a munro. It definitely helped my blocked sinuses. The palate was warming, with what appeared as savoury: salt, pepper and liquorice flavours. I think there’s a fruit hiding in there somewhere, as a subtle sweetness was clawing through, which beautifully contrasted the pepperiness.

I could imagine being washed up on a deserted beach, swigging this and having a great time.


5 Highland Park

I thoroughly enjoyed just smelling the fruity and floral tones of this whisky; a scent which captures walking through an enchanted orchard full of old oak trees, granny smiths and a plethora of tropical fruits like mangoes and pineapples.

The taste is lighter than anticipated, given the complex smells. An initial gloopy sweetness is sharply interrupted by darker, woody tastes and hint of charcoal smoke. I’m reminded of pine cones crunching beneath my feet, birds chirping and hedgehogs rustling as I walk through a forest towards an enticing cottage, where an open fire, a rocking chair and more whisky awaits me.

A fantastical experience.


6 Discovery Ledaig 12-year-old

The smoky scent of this whisky is so intriguing – it feels like you should be able to see smoke rolling out of the glass, like in those fancy cocktail bars. This comes through in the taste and is joined by tar and almost chocolatey notes, evocative of an
after-dinner chocolate.

Then your palate evolves as the smoke settles and nuttiness comes through, accompanied by the taste of raisins and citrus fruits. It’s an ebullient journey of flavour.

The paleness in colour is also disorientating; the smokiness doesn’t quite align; instead you feel you should be drinking a dark, piercing black potion.

It’s a bit of a rollercoaster of the senses. And like an after dinner chocolate, you’ll probably end up having more than one.


7 Naked Grouse

I mused over the malty, toffee smells for a good while before trying – to the point where my eyes were watering – simply because they were utterly ambrosial, especially after six other drams.

The Naked Grouse is a beautiful, deep amber hue, so it’s a marvel to look at too.

When I finally got to the taste, I was expecting a sweet sugary harmony. What I experienced indeed was a toffee-sweet fudge, mingled with fruity flavours, and a hint of spice which is pulled out at the end to keep you on your toes. It’s a welcome surprise which leaves a memorably fiery aftertaste.