Profound and layered, this whisky is perfect for a special occasion (photo courtesy of the brand).

So I’ve got a birthday coming up this summer, and as a courtesy I just wanted to get out in front of things. Atop my wish list this year is another bottle of Ardbeg’s Corryvreckan Single Malt Whisky, a dense and pleasurable Islay that is a paragon of the form.

Complexity is the first word that comes to mind: Is it fruity? Peppery? Smoky? Yes. I’ve seen the phrase “tarry rope” in tasting notes elsewhere, but this is the first scotch I have had where that descriptor locks in as just right. There’s a vaguely medicinal note, followed by dark berry fruits, maybe some cherry. There’s even a sanguine quality—salted meat? Better investigate with another small sip.

As you relax into the long finish, these thoughts swirl. Named for a whirlpool north of Islay—laden with all the mythology one might expect—this juice was awarded The World’s Best Single Malt in 2010 by the World Whiskies Awards. It’s a white-hot 114 proof, but the richness of the whole, and a single excellent ice cube, keep things in balance. At about $120, this dram truly overdelivers.