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  1. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    Scotch Whisky Recommendations

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Iain Aschendale, Dec 9, 2016.

    Right, I'm a bourbon drinker. 8 year old Wild Turkey is right where I want to be, although I do stray to Unforgiven, or even rye at times.

    But there are times when I just want some scotch.

    And I don't want this to head into the Debate Room on the topic of "scotch vs. everything else", because you aren't going to convince me.

    But if you like scotch, and have a strong preference for a particular brand or finish, I'm interested in your opinion. Since I drink scotch so rarely, I'm willing to spend a bit of money* on a good bottle, but I'm not going to go nuts. Japan has been in a scotch boom for ages, so there's as much shelf space devoted to scotch as there is to all varieties of liqueurs combined. If you know about it, the odds are decent that I can lay hands on it.

    Thanks in advance.

    -Iain

    *a bottle of basic Glenmorangie costs about (exchange rate adjusted) $40USD/30 pounds/37 euros here. I could go up to +25% ($50USD) and stay within my budget.
     
  2. Scot

    Scot Senior Member

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    I was a founder member of the Guebiba Malt Whisky Appreciation Society :). Guebiba is a small village in southern Tunisia, where I worked. For several years I, and my colleagues, all working 28/28 rotation, would buy two bottles of malt whiskey every time we returned from leave. Let me work that out; 7 guys x 6 flights x 7 years x 2 bottles = 588 bottles. We went to a lot of effort to avoid duplication, but we slipped up occasionally.

    Scottish whisky can be divided into distinct geographical regions: Island, Highand, Lowland and Speyside, with each region having its own distinctive style.

    Island malts tend to be dark, with a strong, some say pungent, smokey and peaty aroma. People who say, "I don't like whisky," were most likely put off by an Islay whisky. Of the 17 distilleries on this small island Bowmore, Lagavullin, Laphroig, Ardbeg and Bunnahabhain are probably the best known.

    Other Island malts include; Cambletown (Arran); Talisker (Skye); Jura (Jura); Tobermory (Mull); Highland Park (Orkney). Highland Park is particularly good, especially those that have spent a long time maturing.

    Highland malts are lighter and less pungent: Oban, Ardmore and Balvenie are typical of the region, with Glendronach, matured in Oloroso sherry casks for 15 years being my absolute favourite. It's very hard to get now (>£100/bottle!) and has been supplanted by Glendronach 'Revival' which you might find within your budget.

    Lowland malts. There is some overlap between the Highland and Lowland malts the difference is more for marketing purposes than for taste or style. Auchentoshan, Dunglass and Glenkinchie are well known and usually easily obtained.

    Speyside malts: There are dozens of Speyside distilleries turning out hundreds of different whiskies, each with it's own adherents. I'd argue that the Speyside malts are the most varied in nature, some have an almost floral bouquet, others leaning towards the tamer Islay malts. The better known ones, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Cardhu, Tomintoul and Cragganmore. There is nothing 'bad' or 'wrong' with any of them.

    My advice is to try and find a Highland, Lowland or Speyside malt that has spent at least a decade maturing in sherry casks. Age is the biggest factor affecting the taste and, sadly, the price, of a good single malt whisky. Anything under 15 years I consider 'young'. Spend as much as your budget will allow.

    Be sure to enjoy your whisky in the company of good friends. And despite what some people may claim, there is nothing wrong with adding a little chilled water to your tipple.

    Enjoy.
    Scot
     
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  3. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Supporter Reviewer Contributor

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    My dad swears by Lagavulin 16. I'm not sure how accessible it is to a new scotch drinker, but I'm just throwing it out there as a good recommendation.
     
  4. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I'm half Scottish and I still prefer Canadian Whisky over Highland Whisky.

    Alberta Dark Horse, if you can find it.
    It's a 'sweet' whisky, hint of vanilla/maple/ginger, nice full taste.
     
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  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    For people who aren't scotch drinkers, I'll often start them out with Clynelish. The MacCallan is good, though not exactly cheap.

    My favorites are Laphroaog and Lagavulin, with Ardbeg close. I find it hit or miss as to whether others will like those.
     
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  6. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    I've not tried the Ardberg, but I am definitely partial to the Caol ila (on a par with the Lagavulin 16 and the Laphroaig), and I also like Talisker (Dark storm and Skye) :)

    But these are all single malt, in a very distinct category i.e. not to everyone's taste.
    I'd advise you to go to an airport shop and try different brands out: Smoky vs Delicate most of all. Then you know which specific brands to look for.
    A-Guide-to-Flavours.png
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
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  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I like those both as well. Good choices :)
     
  8. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    A fellow fisherman here? ;)
     
  9. Sal Boxford

    Sal Boxford Senior Member

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    Absolutely! I think it's Lagavulin > Caol Ila > Laphroaig > Ardbeg for me. I made whisky truffles with Ardbeg once - my friends did not thank me.

    Anyone else unreasonably annoyed that Lagavulin is Ron Swanson's favourite whisky in Parks and rec? The snob in my makes me worry people will think that's the reason I drink it.
     
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  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Well all I know is, avoid Scotch with honey in it. Nothing good comes from feeling like one of those oil-water things that makes the waves as it bobs back and forth, the next day.
     
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  11. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    Lagavulin 16 is delicious, though if you're not used to Islays it's going to make you think you've just swallowed an angry, cigar-smoking dragon.

    If you can stretch the budget at all, my favourite is Highland Park 18. It's £60-70 here, depending on where you get it, but good enough that I'd take it over two bottles of Glenmorangie.
     
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  12. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Yamazaki.
     
  13. Jaiden

    Jaiden Member

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    I'm a rather amateur whisky drinker beyond bourbon and the shit you buy in a supermarket. However, when I was last in Edinburgh a month or so ago, I was in a specialist whisky shop and their recommendation (after trying a few) was a Speyside single malt named Benromach.

    I've not properly swigged any of the bottles as it's for when I've next got a few days off work, but having sampled it and bought a smaller bottle to try it out ahead of time, it's lovely. Bit of a kick (obviously, that's why we drink whisky and not water, right?) but the after taste is magnificent. Only ten years, so certainly on the younger side for this type of whisky, but coming from bourbon to this was a relatively smooth transition.
     
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  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Never tried Benromach. I do have a bottle of BenRiach I like.
     
  15. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Ka Va Lan is good, a little maple syrupy
     

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