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Five classic songs to match five classic whiskies

Choosing the right soundtrack for enjoying a dram of any whisky is never as easy as it seems.

Published: December 20, 2016
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Do you go literal and match the whisky description to whisky lyrics? Or do you go with ambience and the way both the whisky and music feel?

Choosing either songs or whisky is largely, on the most part, down to how you are feeling on a given occasion.

For a bit of fun we thought we'd have a go anyway, and take a poke at combining five classic whiskies with classic songs.

Laphroaig Ten Year Old

(Distillery: Laphroaig, Region: Islay, Tasting notes: Massive smoke, seaweed and medicinal, with a hint of sweetness )

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A classic Islay malt, the Laphroaig just beats out Ardbeg and Bowmore as probably the most well known of the big hitters on the peat front.

And for good reason -  it's a shining example of the category and its distinctive flavour is as popular as it is divisive.

Our song choice... Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple

Famed for its iconic riff, which  (much like Laphroaig's flavour did for the brand) has led to it becoming one of the most instantly recognisable songs in rock history.

And, much like the whisky, it's not to everyone's taste.

Isle of Jura Ten Year Old

(Distillery: Isle of Jura, Region: Highland (& Islands), Tasting notes: Light and delicate with a warming honey finish )

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Standing proud on its own as the only distillery on the island of Jura, you'd think that Jura would struggle to get much attention when competing with its larger neighbour, Islay, and the numerous distilleries there.

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However, with great core releases, such as our pick the 12 Year Old, and the Superstition and Prophecy, alongside some cracking limited editions, Jura is a small distillery happy to punch above its weight and more than hold its own.

Our song choice... I am a Rock by Simon and Garfunkel 

Summing up this lack of need to conform, or succumb, the surprise Simon and Garfunkel hit I Am A Rock, is the perfect match for a whisky that's proud to stand apart.

And with the distillery's links to George Orwell, who shut himself away on a remote part of the island to write 1984, the song's lyrics about a recluse take on extra poignancy.

Add that's before you add the fact that it's simply a great song.

Highland Park

(Distillery: Highland Park, Region: Highland (& Islands), Tasting notes: Heather, honey, peaty smokiness and slight brine notes )

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A firm fan favourite from the island of Orkney, Highland Park is often the choice dram of many a whisky connoisseur.

Traditionally made and filled with rustic charm, the distillery's whisky often pays homage to its Norse heritage by producing some unique expressions.

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Our song choice... Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin

Viking connotations... check, references to the Viking gods... check, a bad ass attitude... check.

For a whisky that has come from the north to slay the competition, enthral men and women and just generally proclaim that Highland Park is your new overlord (well, favourite whisky at the very least), this song is a perfect summary of how it feels to sip a dram of Orkney's finest.

Glenlivet 12 Year Old

(Distillery: Glenlivet, Region: Speyside, Tasting notes: Remarkably flowery, clean & soft )

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Widely considered to be the dram that started the whole Scotch industry, the Glenlivet's George Smith was the first industrious Scot (and illicit distiller) to go on the straight and narrow by applying for a licence from the Crown.

Now widely considered to be one of the most famous single malt Scotch whiskies in the world, the distillery wasn't always on top.

Due to its success in the early years, George's son John had to fight to protect the distillery's name, after much of the local competition began to rename their products, branding them as 'Glenlivet'.

In the end, the distillery won, the others were forced to back down and the rest they say is history.

Our song choice... We Are the Champions by Queen 

There are more than a few songs about dealing with adversity and coming out on top; Eye of the Tiger, Survivor and I will Survive to name but a few, but none of them really sum up that feeling of winning - and then some - better than Queen's iconic hit.

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Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood

(Distillery: Balvenie, Region: Speyside, Tasting notes: Sweet fruit and oloroso sherry notes, layered with honey and vanilla )

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Dave Stewart's pioneering technique of cask finishing really brought Balvenie into a league of its own.

The distillery could easily have slipped into the shadow of its larger stablemate, Glenfiddich, but instead forged its own path with unique whiskies that really stand out and offer something different from your typical Speyside.

Under the helmsmanship of men like Mr Stewart, the distillery shows no sign of slowing its growth in popularity any time soon.

Our song choice... Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac

Go Your Own Way perfectly sums up the pioneering spirit of a distillery that likes to be experimental in its cask management.

We might have to disagree with the first line though: "Loving you, Isn't the right thing to do" - when whisky is this good it probably is the right thing to do.

 

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