Tell me about Scotch

I know we have done Scotch Whisky threads before, but frankly they were usually directly at someone who was buying a bottle as a gift, and I am buying for me.

I have never really liked Scotch. I am not sure why now, maybe I had some bad experiances when I was first experimenting with alcohol, but I have never been able to get behind that petty flavor. I like whisk(e)y’s of other varieties. I enjoy Irish Whiskey, I am a bit of a Bourbon snob but never scotch.

Well in the interest of re-trying “things I think I don’t like for reasons I don’t remember” I went out an bought a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 year old single malt tonight. Why Glenfiddich? Because an old Welshman who was a mentor to me once upon a time drank Glenfiddich, and he was the only real scotch drinker I knew. Well, to my great surprise, I really like it. It’s much sweeter than I remember scotch being, and fruitier too. It isn’t overpowering with smoke, but the smokiness is there in a nice way. It has a fuller, almost rounder flavor profile than the Black Bush that I have, but is more similar to an Irish Whiskey than it is to Bourbon. And that’s nice for a change of pace.

So where do I go from here? There seem to be 1001 different single malts, and then there are blends (some of which I am sure are very good also). Frankly after doing a little internet searching, I am intimidated by the choices available. How do I go about figuring it out?

One bottle at a time laddie. I ken it’s a worrisome chore, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, aye?

You wouldn’t be wanting a help with finishing off some of those wee bottles, now would you?

I agree. Experimentation is the only way to go. It’s the only way that you’re going to learn exactly what it is that you want in a Scotch.

The thing about Single Malts is that, despite their best efforts at blending batches to create a consistent product, they DO change from bottle to bottle. I had about four bottles in a row of Royal Lochnagar and really liked them, then picked up a fifth bottle that I haven’t managed to finish in about 10 years.

Or maybe it’s just that my tastes changed, because I didn’t like Lagavulin the first dozen or so times I had it, but now I do.

Go to a bar where they have a sampler and given them a try. Or just go and try different ones at different times. A single shot at a bar may be expensive, but it’s a helluva lot cheaper than buying an entire bottle to see if you like it or not.

Find a bar that has an extensive scotch collection, clear out some room on a major credit card and go tasting. A good scotch bar will have bartenders that know their stuff and you can tell them what you like and dislike about each offering until you find that holy grail and drink nothing else.

Or just get some Famous Grouse and take it like a man. Your choice.

Single Malt Scotch can be broken down into regions similar to how it’s done with wines.

Highlands – Tend to be smoky and peaty
Lowlands - Tend to be lighter
Speyside – Lighter, fruitier
Campbell town – Only 2 really left so a mixture
Island – Blow your socks off iodine and seaweed
Orkney – Similar to highlands

Now you like Irish malts and Glenfiddich. The Irish ones tend to be triple distilled and so lighter than most scotches. Glenfiddich is a light speyside malt designed to appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers. So sounds like you’d be a Lowland/Speyside candidate to start out with.

So I’d suggest – The Glen Livet, Glenkinchie, Balvenie or The Macallan if you like sweetness due to the sherry casks they use.

Then if you wanted to step out a bit further I’d recommend Oban which is a nice introduction to Highland/Island malts.

Personally I like Highland Park, Talisker, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, and Glenfarclas but a lot depends on the kind of weather (like any drink). I’m sure I’d never consider a Highland Park in the heat of summer. :slight_smile:

Ah ha. Ok, I knew there had to be more to go on than just trying everything out there (not that I was against giving that method a shot :wink: )

This is helpful. I think I will give Oban a try next just to see what I think of a bit more smoke.

And as for Island scotches…blow your socks off with Iodine? :eek:

I may stay away from those until I am feeling really adventurous.

Hell if you can combine the two techniques you’ll be all set. Remember though - if you don’t like it don’t bother with it. Life’s too short to try and force yourself to enjoy something you don’t.

Calling Silenus!
He should be able to answer many questions for us all!

“Island” :confused: - perhaps you mean Islay?

You rang? :smiley:

Macallan’s. There, wasn’t that easy?
Sounds like you will generally like the Speyside malts. Start with the aforementioned Macallan’s. Then try The Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Balvenie, and Glen Rothes. Glenmorangie is the best selling single in Scotland, which should tell you something. They also offer a number of “special finishes,” like portwood and sherry. So does Balvenie, for that matter.

One day you might be ready for Talisker.

Island. Although yes, Islay was forgotten, and probably what he meant.

The best Island malt is also the best malt you can get: Highland Park. If you can find an independent-bottling of the 17-year-old, you have proof of Ghu’s benevolence.

And if you’re really brave, you’ll try Laphroaig. (You might even be able to pronounce it, too.)

Ah, I didn’t consider that to be a separate region, though obviously some do.

Well Talisker is form Skye not Islay so I didn’t want to mix anyone up (and Tobermory is on Mull). But to be fair I find Talisker more peppery than the Islay malts but iodine and seaweed cover most of them.

And silenus I’ll see your Highland Park and raise you a Springbank 12 year old cask strength. :slight_smile:

I bought a buddy a bottle of Compass Box scotch as a wedding gift. He broke it out and it was the smoothest booze I’ve ever tasted. Smoky, peaty taste, and it went down with nary a grimace. Went great with a cigar.

If you’re pouring, I’m drinking.

Tastes vary, of course. But I find most Islay malts to be undrinkable. The exceptions are Bunnahabhain and, of all things, 17-year-old Bowmore. All other ages of Bowmore are swill to me, but that one age is just perfect.

No love for Jameson, or is it not Scottish enough for ya?

Seriously, go to a bar with an extensive Scotch collection. Bring your paycheck. Oh, and a recording device of some sort to help you remember what it is you drank.

If I could ever find it again I would, but it’s a Campbeltown malt and not from Islay. :slight_smile:

It’s a nice drink - little island-y but very clean and light.

Recording device. Check. I was going to go with a notebook, but I can see how that might be problamatic over the course of a long evening.


Oh, I see. My sentence construction was faulty. I was referencing some previous comments you made about Islay malts, and it came across as commenting more on the Springbank. My bad.