Out with the old and in with the new. Hogmanay is upon us and it's definitely time for a (large) dram. It’s not a lie to say that 2019 has been a challenging, difficult year. But like many Scottish traditions, from first footing to cleaning the house before the bells, we are eternally optimistic. So let’s clean up our homes, get ready for some dear friends and family to come round and put our best foot forward into 2020.

To help with the cleaning I always feel that a glass of whisky spurs me on to do a better, more efficient job. My wife, however, disagrees with that statement. But I will be finishing off a few whisky bottles that I have acquired over the past year that only have a small measure left in them…just so we can take the glass out for recycling in the morning! Then it’s time for a reward as we get to crack open something special to welcome in the New Year.

From the cupboard, I will be enjoying the Arran 2011 Indiebrands Single Cask- 7 year-old (£74.95, Royal Mile Whiskies). A brave and powerful bold step into the future from this brilliant distillery. A heavily peated, single cask expression released to let us know what to expect from the newly opened Lagg Distillery. Situated at the south end of Arran, Lagg Distillery only started production this year but is definitely one to look out for when it comes of age in a few years time. In the glass, expect peat smoke and bonfire ash, but with a tropical note at the end. It’s perfect with the dusting.

Also being finished off will be the SPEY Chairman’s Choice Single malt (£59.60 Master of Malts). I tried and fell in love with this whisky at the BigMix festival in Aviemore in September and have been holding off finishing the bottle in my possession until the time is right. Well, that’s the vacuuming sorted. The name of this release comes from the tradition that the Harvey family (who own the distillery) started on Christmas Day 1787. The chairman would select the best cask to open and pour for their family. The current bottle is full of stone fruits, brioche rolls and just a hint of Dundee cake.

And for the Bells to be drunk at the bells with a few other Bells around, we have the Gleann Mor A Rare Find Bruichladdich-22 year-old (Inverarity One to One £120.00). Bruichladdich distillery has constantly amazed me with what it can do with four stills, a lot of imagination and some full-powered determination. The Gleann Mor bottling is a single cask released from a new independent bottler. It has a gently toasty malt note that blends vanilla with tropical notes and a decent minerality together. A long finish with just another kiss of orange sweetness makes this a great promise for the New Year to come.