Around seven years ago, many of my friends began oohing and aahing over a hot new HBO series called “Game of Thrones.” I’ve humored them about it, but there was never anything in this medieval fantasy epic for me.
HBO and Diageo, a global leader in the alcoholic beverage industry, have teamed up to release some stellar limited-edition Game of Thrones-branded booze: “White Walker by Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky” and “The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection.”
“The limited-edition whiskies are inspired by the iconic characters and the creative world of Westeros and beyond and are here to tide fans over during their wait for the eighth and final season” — due to premiere in April, according to the press release.
While the fantasy element seems to be pure hucksterism, these limited-edition whiskies happen to be very good and are well worth seeking out. And while I won’t guarantee that I’ll tune in to Season 8 (why ruin a perfect record now?), I’m perfectly willing to sip these whiskies, which I’m listing from least to most worthwhile.
Game of Thrones House Stark, Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost ($39.99; abv 43 percent): This non-age statement whisky is bright, malty and fruity, with notes of tropical fruit, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel and toasty malt on the nose and a mellow and malty palate of pear, black tea, ginger, honey and citrus. This is a lovely introductory expression from the Dalwhinnie distillery.
Game of Thrones House Tyrell, Clynelish Reserve ($59.99; abv 51.2 percent): This lovely, dry, complex whisky offers a wonderfully aromatic nose of graham cracker, malted barley, molasses and citrus, and a rich palate of mango, banana bread, almonds, milk chocolate and a hint of smoke and maritime notes (especially after a drop of water is added to open it up).
Game of Thrones House Greyjoy, Talisker Select Reserve ($44.99; abv 45.8 percent): This is a suitably beautiful bruising beast of a non-age statement whisky, with a smoky nose of dark chocolate covered orange peel, brine, charcoal, smoked meat, spice and dried fruits, and a salty, smoky palate of smoked and charred meats, leather, salt, caramel, grilled fruit, charcoal, chili and some sort of herbal element.
The finish is more maritime-driven, with still plenty of beachside campfire, fruit leather and some sort of slightly citrus glazed smoke meat. This is wonderfully complex and still quite feisty.
Game of Thrones House Lannister, Lagavulin 9 Year Old ($64.99; abv 46 percent): As expected from this venerable distillery, this is a fabulous whisky — the nose is sweet and peaty with notes of apple, pear, banana, spice, malt syrup, wet smoke and wet wool.
The sweet yet earthy palate offers notes of dried banana, smoked meat, burnt cloves, red licorice, caramel, brine, a touch of eucalyptus, mint, citrus peel,and wet ash. The finish is smoky, juicy, fruity, malty, and wonderfully brooding. L’chaim!
Send your wine and spirits questions to Joshua E. London at [email protected].