Food & dining

Searching for a nice bottle for the new year? Look no further.

Any spirit distilled from grains qualifies as a whiskey, so no surprise that the category is vast and varied. These days, top-rate products are being made around the planet. Unique distillation and aging methods — and even weather conditions — ensure each country’s products have characteristics that distinguish them from the rest.

HILLROCK ESTATE DISTILLERY SINGLE MALT WHISKEY ($125) Dubbing itself a “grain-to-glass” operation, Hillrock only uses barley that’s grown organically on its Hudson Valley estate. Burly and unapologetic, this whiskey lures you in with aromas of apple and grass, then delivers a charge of spicy flavors and leaves a cooling menthol note in its wake.

KAVALAN SINGLE MALT WHISKY ($80) This Taiwanese whiskey is aged mostly in bourbon barrels, so the liquid picks up sweet vanilla notes absorbed into the wood during the previous resident’s slumber. This is a dainty yet assured beauty, displaying fragrant tropical fruits, vanilla, and almond with a little barley spice thrown in.

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NIKKA COFFEY GRAIN WHISKY ($70) Named for the type of stills used at Japan’s Nikka distillery (not the caffeinated bean), this complex yet mellow drink is made primarily from corn and a measure of barley, thus it’s a single grain whiskey (again, from one distillery), not a single malt. The result is a lush honeyed sweetness reined in by high-definition herbaciousness.

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BRENNE FRENCH SINGLE MALT WHISKY ($65)
Candied orange and buttery fresh-from-the-oven pastries define the nose of this distinctive French single malt that’s aged in new French oak and finished in Cognac barrels. Notes of dried apricots, zesty orange, and clove emerge when you take a sip, and it all wraps up with a peppery slap. A classy digestif.

Liza Weisstuch