The Art of Manliness Guide to Scotch Whisky

by schaefer on April 5, 2009 · 177 comments

in Food & Drink, Out on the Town, Travel & Leisure

scotchwhisky

“The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed.” -David Daiches

No other spirit has been associated with manhood like Scotch whisky. Whether it’s the hooking punch in the mouth or just the raw and earthy process by which it is brought forth from barley and water, Scotch has held a prominent place in the lives of men from kings to authors to titans of industry. What separates scotch from its alcoholic counterparts is not just its unique background (to be labeled Scotch, a whisky must be distilled and initially matured in Scotland), but the commonalities shared by the men who partake in its liquid mysteries.

The man who drinks Scotch is one who lives life to the hilt, savoring new challenges and discoveries on a daily basis. He doesn’t settle and he doesn’t drink something just because it’s there. Few men drink Scotch to get drunk. First off, it’s too expensive, the cheapest bottles of single malt costing around $40. But secondly, and much more importantly, each bottle of scotch contains so much history, tradition, and attention to detail that the men who drink it are not just downing a beverage, but participating in a celebration of artisanship and the deep pleasures of life.

Becoming a Scotch drinker takes a little work and a bit of tongue maturity. The young man that saddles up for his first bout with the historic elixir is often taken back by its overt potency. But upon returning a second and third time, he slowly begins to get a sense of what makes Scotch so alluring and enjoyable. In developing a taste for Scotch, a man is embarking on a lifelong journey that will take him along the clear waters of the River Spey, the rugged Highlands, the Isle of Jura (which George Orwell described as “an extremely unget-at-able place”), and various other parts of Scotland where distillers like to say, “It’s as good as life used to be.”

Therefore, to truly appreciate a good Scotch, a man must have an understanding of its rich history and the process that transforms ordinary barley into an extraordinary drink.

With this idea in mind the Art of Manliness ventures into the world of scotch, not because we believe you must drink alcohol in order to be a man, but because if you choose to do so, it should be in the tradition of gentlemen, with a clear conscious and a full heart.


History

Originally known as “aqua vitae” or “water of life” for it’s healing properties, the first recorded reference to the substance is found in the Scottish Exchequer Rolls of 1494. The following, “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae,” was the equivalent of several hundred bottles of whisky in today’s standards. This distilled beverage was used as a treatment for all kinds of ailments, with many of its users noticing the warm, calming sensation upon “treatment.”

Scotland’s King James IV was recorded as purchasing whisky from the local barber upon a visit to Dundee in 1506. That he purchased it from the barber would not have raised any eyebrows in that time period. “In 1505, the Guild of Surgeon Barbers in Edinburgh was granted a monopoly over the manufacture of aqua vitae – a fact that reflects the spirits perceived medicinal properties as well as the medicinal talents of the barbers.”

Royalty and the clergy were not the only ones to enjoy whisky, however. The farming community discovered new benefits of the distillation process near the end of the 16th century. Both barley and oats were staple crops of Scottish agriculture, but due to their cold, wet climate, the long-term storage of grain was nearly impossible.

“Maximizing the crop returns from this harsh Scottish soil and climate meant that some of the crop that could not be used immediately was turned into ale. Ale could be kept for longer than dry grain but not indefinitely so the farmers soon learned that turning the ale into alcohol was an even better solution.” -Loch Lomond Distillers

The growth of Scotch whisky distillation continued for the next several centuries, surviving taxes, cumbersome government regulation, and smuggling to become a commercial industry in the 1700s. In 1831, the Coffey (or Patent) still was produced, increasing whisky’s smoothness and drinkablity. This, in combination with the destruction of France’s wine and cognac industry at the hand (or claw) of the Phylloxera bug in 1880, helped ensure worldwide growth of the scotch industry.

Since that time, a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. Just as in any field, new techniques and practices have created a greater variety of products, but at the end of the day, distillers are still in the business of turning barley and water into a tasty concoction.

How Scotch Whisky is Made

howscotchismade

The production process of scotch whisky is surprisingly simple. It involves malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation.

1) Malting – the process of turning barley into malt, very similar to the early stages of making beer. Barley is soaked or “steeped” in water, drained, then spread out on the malting floor to germinate. During the germination process (generally 6 or 7 days), enzymes are released, which convert the starches into maltose, a sugar. At this point, the malted barley is dried using the smoke from an underground furnace called a “kiln.” The fire for the furnace is often stoked with peat which is why you’ll hear scotch drinkers refer to a “smoky peat” flavor in many whiskies.

2) Mashing – the dried malt is then ground into a course flour with the consistency of oatmeal, called “grist.” The grist is then mixed with hot water and pumped into a vessel called a “mash tun.” In the mash tun, the water and ground malt is thoroughly mixed and allowed to steep so that the sugars in the malt are released into liquid. This sugary liquid is called “wort.”

3) Fermentation — the wort is then drawn off and pumped into large wooden or steel vessels called “washbacks.” Once there, it is combined with yeast and allowed to ferment. The length of fermentation can be different depending on the environment, but it generally takes about two days. “The living yeast feeds on the sugars, producing alcohol and small quantities of other compounds known as congeners, which contribute to the flavor of the whisky,” according to scotlandwhisky.com. The resulting liquid is anywhere from 5-8% alcohol by volume and is called “wash.”

4) Distillation — the wash is distilled twice (single malt in a pot still, grain whisky in a Coffey still). The first still is the wash still and is used to separate the water from the alcohol by boiling the wash, collecting the evaporated alcohol which condenses at the top and collecting it in a condenser. The resulting liquid is called “low wine” and is approximately 20% alcohol by volume.

The low wine is then sent through the second still, also called the “spirit still.” This process is slower and the climate must be very closely monitored. “The stillman discards the first part of the distillate, called ‘foreshots’ and the last part known as ‘feints,’ because these contain unpleasant higher alcohols. The center part of the distillation is preserved and this is the whisky we drink. This spirit is colorless and gets its color during maturing in oak barrels,” says expert Michael Moss.

5) Maturation — the unfinished Scotch is then placed in oak barrels, or casks, for the maturation process to begin. Throughout the maturation the whisky becomes much smoother, increases in flavor and begins to retain the golden color of the barrels inside which it rests. Traditionally second-hand sherry barrels were used to age whisky, but today bourbon barrels are also common. Some producers experiment with other varieties including port, beer, cognac, and even wine. Each barrel passes on a distinct flavor to its contents.

In order to be considered “Scotch” is must be aged in Scotland for at least three years. Though each whisky reaches its maturation at different ages, most are now aged anywhere from 8-20 years. Many feel that the longer a scotch is aged the smoother and more flavorful it becomes — old whiskies are also more rare and cost a quite a bit more. For example, a quick internet search brings up a bottle of 25-Year Highland Park Single Malt Scotch for $239.

Geography — The Scotch Regions and Their Distilleries

scotch-map

Just as in the wine world, where names like Napa Valley, Burgundy, or Rioja tell someone not just where a wine is made, but what to expect as far as variety and flavor, Scotch whisky has its own geographic intricacies.

“With the renewed appreciation of the variabilty of single malt brands there is new appreciation of the geographic guidestars that explain (in surprisingly intuitive ways) why a single malt like Talisker has a sharp saltiness in the flavor, why Speyside whiskies like Glenfiddich have a light, sweet characteristic, why a Campbeltown whisky like Springbank is different from a whisky of the peninsula to the north on the serrated coast, and why an open bottle of Islay whisky smells like your carpeting is on fire.” -Chris Cloud

  • Lowland - the whisky of this region is generally considered to be more mild, mellow, and delicate. The three distilleries in operation include: Glenkinchie, Bladnoch, and Auchentoshan.
  • Highland - the largest geographic region for Scotch includes well-known distilleries such as: Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Oban, Talisker, and Dalwhinnie.
  • Islay - known for heavier, more smoky Scotch varieties, it has eight distilleries, each with their own unique character including: Ardbeg, Bowmore, and Laphroaig to name a few.
  • Speyside - adjacent to the River Spey, the area with the largest number of distilleries to include: Glenfiddich, Aberlour, The Glenlivet, and The Macallan.
  • Campbeltown - the smallest of the whisky producing regions, once home to several distilleries, but now only home to three: Glengyle, Glen Scotia, and Springbank

For a nice map displaying all the various distilleries throughout Scotland see http://www.scotlandwhisky.com/distilleries/

Drinking Scotch Whisky

drinkingscotch

So, enough about all of the details on the where and the how — they don’t mean a whole lot unless you get to enjoy the final product. The drinking of Scotch whisky should be enjoyable, not intimidating. Everyone has their own opinions on how to drink Scotch, but the following are some general guidelines on the proper way to enjoy this storied spirit.

tulip-glassGlass — While there’s nothing wrong with using a standard tumbler, many scotch experts recommend using a tulip-shaped glass which allows the whisky to be swirled without spilling and, more importantly, concentrates the aromas at the neck of the glass. As I’ve discovered during my own searches, these glasses are sometimes a bit difficult to find. The following are some great options for those not wanting to waste time searching high and low: Here, here, and here.

Water - Some Scotch novices may sneer at the introduction of a small splash of water as not, “manning up,” but they would be both stupid and mistaken. While water is not a must, many Scotchmen will throw a little water in with their scotch to help enhance their ability to taste the individual flavors that can often be masked by the well-known “burn.”

Ice – Many like to add ice, but it is generally considered poor form, simply because it lowers the temperature of the whisky, which in turn can hide or dull the flavors and aroma. If you really want ice, no problem, but definitely try it without sometime — you may be pleasantly surprised.

Your First Bottle of Scotch

glenmorangie-single-malt-10-years

For many of us young men, buying our first bottle of Scotch can be a tough decision. The price is a bit higher than other spirits so we worry about choosing poorly. I have no doubt that there are as many opinions regarding a good “starter Scotch” as there are bottles of whisky (please leave your suggestions below), but for those wanting a recommendation, I would point them to my first, a bottle of Glenmorangie 10yr. And apparently the experts concur.

While Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet tend to be the most widely enjoyed, Glenmorangie is said to be the most popular among the Scottish themselves. Established in 1843, the Sixteen Men of Tain perfected this single malt Scotch whisky using their own Tarlogie Springs mineral water. Matured in bourbon oak casks, Glenmorangie is a light, sweet Scotch. Though I am still learning to “taste” Scotch, new flavors seem to come out each time, including — honey, almond, and some various citrusy flavors.

In the end it doesn’t matter so much which bottle you decide to buy, the key is trying all kinds of Scotch and expanding your pallet. Each new bottle should give you its own unique education. Don’t worry if your first try with Scotch isn’t love at first taste. As mentioned above, it’s a taste that must be developed. In my own experience, each subsequent tasting made the whole affair much more enjoyable.

Finally, many men get confused on the issue of whether it should be rendered “whisky” or “whiskey.” Here’s a clever poem from the Bard of Banff, Stanley Bruce, to help you remember how to spell the word and what to look for when shopping for an authentic bottle of Scotch.

Whisky or Whiskey

A Scotsman who spells
Whisky with a n ‘e’,
should be hand cuffed
and thrown head first in the Dee,

In the USA and Ireland,
it’s spelt with an ‘e’
but in Scotland
it’s real ‘Whisky’.

So if you see Whisky
and it has an ‘e’,
only take it,
if you get it for free!

For the name is not the same
and it never will be,
a dram is only a real dram,
from a bottle of ‘Scotch Whisky’.

So what did I miss? Which bottle is your favorite? When it comes to Scotch there are millions of opinions so let’s hear yours!

Resources:

http://www.scotchhunter.com/cgi-bin/cp-app.cgi

http://www.whisky.com/history.html

http://www.lochlomonddistillery.com/history-of-scotch.htm

http://www.isleofjura.com/

http://www.sgoc.de/making.html

http://www.scotlandwhisky.com

http://radio.weblogs.com/0117154/stories/2003/11/15/theGeographyOfScotchWhisky.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch_whisky

For info on other varieties of whiskey (that’s with an e) check out Primer’s Guide to Whiskey.

{ 175 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicky April 5, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Excellent! This article should be spread around, it should clear up a lot of confusion. I’ll buy a drink for everyone that can find me.

2 VitaminCM April 5, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Nice article. Very informative
I’ve had a little trouble acquiring the taste for Scotch. Maybe I’ll try the brand you mentioned.

3 TSC April 5, 2009 at 7:14 pm

If you’re having difficulty gaining a taste for scotch, start with a blended. They were originally formulated for export to England, which at the time had a taste for claret, not hard liquor. If you’re still having trouble, mix your blended with soda, reducing the amount of soda each time you take a drink. The idea is to slowly train your tongue. Eventually, you can move on to a single malt.

4 Craig Miller April 5, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I’ve almost come to blows with philistines who insistently naysay when I add a wee dram of water. Nice to see some independant confirmation of the practice.

5 Scott Dunn April 5, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Great article. I prefer Talisker myself. Glenmorangie is definitely a good choice I think. It’s a very peaty whisky but it has some great flavoring to it. There was a videocast by Gary Vaynerchuk who gave some good tips too. He did the show with Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame. Some good suggestions from him.

http://tv.winelibrary.com/2008/07/25/the-single-malt-scotch-episode-episode-509/

6 Bill Keil April 5, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Believe it or not there is a very nice whisky from the USA, try Stranahans Colorado Whisky. It may be a little hard to find, but it is very smooth and well worth the cost.

7 Jordan April 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I’ve heard great things about the Glenmorangie, but have not had it yet. I started with Tamdhu a couple years back. It was a very good starter scotch because it wasn’t too harsh, but introduced a lot of the subtle flavors you get in other scotches.

This was a great post, I can’t wait until you have an article on cheese!

8 e April 5, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Whisky is overrated. The man who drinks whisky is obviously questioning his sexuality and over compensating with his drink.

Real men drink rum.

;)

9 dip April 6, 2009 at 12:01 am

What’s clearly missing from the linklist is: http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com
my favourite site for whisky purchases.

10 bar chicago April 6, 2009 at 12:30 am

I definitely want to reference this article on my website, very informative and well put together.. Great job!

11 Alan Smithee April 6, 2009 at 4:09 am

I’d suggest that the first time drinker try something with very apparent flavor. A good peaty Islay malt. My first was ardbeg 10 yo.

12 Dan April 6, 2009 at 4:17 am

This article came out just in time for Tartan Day
http://www.tartanday.org/

13 Andrew April 6, 2009 at 5:26 am

My first Scotch was a bottle of McClelland’s. It’s a good Islay single malt. I split it with my Dad while we were in TN for his dad’s funeral. Good whisky and good memories, that’s what it’s all about.

14 dip April 6, 2009 at 5:40 am

A further whisky that’s perfect for starters is mcallans 10year old, it’s not expensive and gives you a hint at other brands and scotch flavours you might expect in the future. My favourite is coal ila as well as 16yrs old lagavullin, they’re both islay malts, very heavy and complex and also not very expensive. But you really can’t go wrong with a macallan and maybe procede to highland park 18yrs old after that.

15 JS April 6, 2009 at 5:43 am

I, like many before me and countless others after, had trouble with my first experience of scotch. I started on something a bit heavier because it was given as a gift, Laphroaig. After basically forcing myself to enjoy it and realizing that it would take some time to adjust my pallet, I now love scotch and drink it anytime I can.

That being said, I would recommend to some of you who also enjoy finer tobacco products that to light up a cigar and have a glass of scotch is true bliss. The smokey flavors of the scotch only enhance the flavor of the tobacco and vice versa. They really do belong together when possible.

Welcome to manhood, young initiates of the scotch.

16 Em April 6, 2009 at 5:57 am

My favorite is from Scotland’s Smallest Distillery — Edradour located in the southern highlands above Pitlochry . It is still hand crafted by ‘The Three Men of Edradour’..

17 James Wood April 6, 2009 at 5:59 am

Great article. I started with Glen Moray (http://www.scotchwhisky.net/malt/glen_moray.htm), it’s a Speyside whisky and quite tasty. I prefer the sweeter varieties rather than those heavy in smokey and peaty flavors. I hope to get to Scotland soon, so I’ll let you know what I find out!

18 Tim April 6, 2009 at 6:21 am

While in Scotland I went to a tourist trap with the usual liquor store. There was one employee who was the “Scotch Seller”. After we introduced ourselves he asked, “So, what koinds of whiskey do yeh like?:
I said, “Glenmorangie”. Visibly impressed he said, “Do you now? There are many good scotches in Scotland, my friend, but they all wish they were as good as that one.”
“Really?”
“In Scotland, yeah. It truely is the best for the price at 10 years.”
I said, “We can get the 10 year in the Staes, for $40-50 a bottle, depending, but the others are out of my price range.”
“It’s out of my range too, he said, that’s why I work here, would you fancy a sample of the 18 year Special Reserve?”
It was my turn to be impressed. All that stuff they talk about in the scotch books? Yep. This is it.
I do not plan to become a regular drinker of $160 a bottle Scotch, but if you want to try the best Scotch on the planet, that’s the one.
I did not tell the Scotch Seller that I learned about Glenmorangie from the Movie “Highlander”.

19 K. M. Jones April 6, 2009 at 6:26 am

Great article. About a year ago, my brother and I came across a 3-pack of Glenfiddich in a local liquor store. It had small bottles of 8 yr, 12 yr, and 20 yr packaged together. We, along with my father, enjoyed doing a taste test of the three side by side. It was great to compare and really notice the maturing of the flavors over the aging process. I know it’s can be a bit pricey to purchase multiple bottles of Scotch at one time (especially the better brands) But, if you get the chance, I suggest you try this or a similar experiment to really get a good comparison. It’s easier than trying to remember the subtleties of flavor from one bottle to the next.

20 The Plainsman April 6, 2009 at 6:35 am

As a devoted McCallan drinker, I like this article.

21 Adam April 6, 2009 at 6:45 am

A new bottle I’ve recently tried is called the Singletons:
http://www3.shopping.com/xPO-Singleton-Scotch-Malt-12-Year-86-Proof

The people that run the local liquor store have been looking for uncommon things like this for me. It was very smooth, I was surprised. I’d put it on par with the Macallans 12 year old (for less $$).

22 Albert April 6, 2009 at 6:49 am

My first bottle was The Singleton 12 yr, which is wonderfully smooth and not too heavy. Great for starters. Someday, I hope to try Laphroaig which I hear has a huge smoky, peaty flavor.

23 J Stair April 6, 2009 at 6:53 am

Great article! I started sampling different Scotch’s several years ago. I have never been a fan of the more popular brands here in the US. My personal favorite is Laphroaig. Even Scotch novices will taste it’s distinct flavor, which is quite unlike the more common Speyside or Highland brands. They say the flavor comes from the peat which is burned for fuel in the area. Sadly, I rarely see the better Scotch’s offered at bars or restaurants, so one usually has to commit to a full bottle to try it.

A bit off topic, but what would be considered a manly cocktail? I would love to see a blog post on this.

24 Martin Paul April 6, 2009 at 7:16 am

Nice article. As someone who lives and travels across Scotland I can say I have tasted most of the single malts. All are worthy of trying a dram but for me, the Islay (pronounced eye-la) malts are the finest. Smoky, peaty and warming. Two things – “NO ice” and “just a dash of water”. Slainte!!

25 Martin Paul April 6, 2009 at 7:23 am

By the way – give http://www.malts.com a look.

26 Andres April 6, 2009 at 7:45 am

Tim, I completely agree with you. The Glenmornagie 18 year is absolutely perfect. The last couple years are spent aging in used wine barrels, which smoothes out the “burn” aspects, and I’m sure adds dozens of new flavors. A good friend bought me a glass once at a bar as my first single malt.

Actually, for those looking to find their own, a good upscale bar with a good selection is beautiful. Most will offer a small taste for no charge. Tip well.

27 Litzner April 6, 2009 at 7:45 am

My first bottle was a Macallan 12 year that I purchased while on my honeymoon in St. Thomas. So Macallan will always have a place in my heart for that reason. I have since tried other scothes, and they are all great, but The Macallan remains my favorite.

28 Dave April 6, 2009 at 8:22 am

Talisker’s an Island Malt, not a Highland Malt.

Also, I noticed you didn’t mention the Island regions. It would be good to get an idea of the general qualities of the fine whiskies from this region.

29 Rod Newbound, RN April 6, 2009 at 8:26 am

Well written & compelling article.

Thanks.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are quite a few dwellers who proudly trace their ancestry to Scotland. Each summer, the Scottish Highland Games are a big draw, and there is also an annual Scotch tasting in the spring. You’ve whetted my appetite enough to give it a try.

30 Alex April 6, 2009 at 8:33 am

A friend of mine introduced me to the Ardbeg 10 year to wean me from the cheap American blends I was used to. It’s a shock how different it is at first, but it I’ve grown to love it. At the other end of the spectrum, I love the sweet taste of Balvenie, either the single barrel or double barrel.

Not all blends are bad, though. I’m partial to Johnny Walker, which actually has an interesting honey taste, especially the Gold Label, though the less pricey Black Label is good too. It’s true that single malts are more interesting to taste; they have real character. But when I don’t know what taste I want, I find Johnny Walker agreeable.

31 Christopher Gillespie April 6, 2009 at 9:11 am

If only you had published this a year ago, my journey into the world of Scotch would have been much less painful. Thank you for providing such a well-written survey.

32 Brucifer April 6, 2009 at 9:30 am

Very informative post.

However, *real* men can kindly do without the, “The man who (drinks whatever, wears whatever, drives whatever) is one who lives life to the hilt, savoring new challenges and discoveries on a daily basis” type of bullcrap hyperbole. The author has been reading too many advertisements, methinks.

I shall laugh myself to death over puppy-headed males who buy things advertised to them as “fully-loaded” and “the ULTIMATE” and other such embroidery.

It’s bad enough that women will buy *anything* labeled “Tuscan” or “clean- fresh scent.” Sirs, let us not join their ranks.

The man who … resists advertising ….

33 Bill April 6, 2009 at 9:35 am

I especially enjoy the Glenfiddich 15-year old Solara Reserve. It’s an amazingly smooth, very tasty Scotch. If you’re just starting to explore the world of Scotch, I’d suggest this variety as a great starter. It’s smooth enough not to scare away a newcomer, but has enough flavor to satisfy even a serious Scotch drinker.

34 TSC April 6, 2009 at 10:56 am

@ J Stair: Manly cocktail? Well, since we’re on about whisky, how about some cocktails that incorporate scotch?

The Rusty Nail is a simple one, and quite good:

1 1/2 ounce scotch whisky
1/2 ounce Drambuie
Stir with ice. Strain into an ice filled Old Fashioned glass.

If you like a good Manhattan (and you should, it’s an excellent cocktail), try the Rob Roy:

1 1/2 ounce scotch whisky
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist
Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

It should go without saying that the Martini (gin or vodka), the Manhattan (rye or bourbon), and the Old Fashion are also excellent – though non-Scotch – cocktails to try.

35 Chris April 6, 2009 at 11:02 am

I’ve never understood the whole thing about “developing a taste”, since I’ve always thought Scotch was great. The price, though, is just exhorbitant.

I can go get a bottle of good boubon (Woodford, Makers, etc.) for less than the price of a drinkable bottle of Scotch. I’ve tried many brands of both bourbon and Scotch from across a huge price range and found that a basic bottle of Old Forrester 100 bourbon is tough to beat. It’s as smooth as any Scotch I’ve had, has tons of subtle flavors, and I can get a fifth for about $15.

36 Cameron Schaefer April 6, 2009 at 11:15 am

@ Albert,

Just tried a Laphroaig 12yr for the first time a few nights ago, great character! Very sweet at the beginning and a mouthful of peat at the end. Much smoother than I was anticipating – definitely worth a taste.

37 Adam Snider April 6, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I didn’t know where to start when I started into scotch, so I picked up two bottles: a Talisker 10 year and a Glen Garrioch (15 year, I think, but I don’t remember for sure). While I wouldn’t recommend Talisker for most “newbies” because it’s really peaty, I fell in love with it immediately. It is one of my favourites. The 10 year is my standard, since it’s the most readily available (and least expensive) of the Talisker malts, but all of them are good (I’ve tried all but the 25 year).

A recent discovery, that I came across at a scotch tasting some friends and I put together was Bruichladdich Peat. It’s definitely the peatiest scotch I’ve ever tasted, and it’s absolutely amazing if you like the smokiness and earthiness of heavily peated scotches. I highly recommend it.

38 Robbie April 6, 2009 at 1:00 pm

I write this from Scotland, Campbeltown is my home.

This is a very clear and well researched article. One I will make reference to when friends and acquaintances require advice on the subject.

Some of the Glenfiddich special editions are the best in my opinion.

Thanks,
Robbie

39 James Rich April 6, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Great article! Nice presentation of information about what makes single malt so very special!

40 Andrew April 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I am partial to Laphroig, which many people of heard of. I also enjoy Aberlour 10 yo, which to me has a hint of peat, and a soft finish. You can visit there site here:
http://www.aberlour.com

41 Uberhack April 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Found a good primer on whiskey (or whisky) here:
http://www.maltadvocate.com/docs/whisky_resources/default.aspx

42 CoastalKyle April 6, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Another great article, guys.

I was fortunate enough to celebrate my sixteenth birthday in the Oban distillery during a family trip to Scotland. My dad (a lover of good scotch himself) persuaded the staff in the tasting room to let me have my first dram.

Sadly, though nine years have past since then, my tastebuds are only slightly closer to actually enjoying aqua vitae. Heck, I’m only just getting the hang of wine. Maybe when I’m thirty, I can justifiably purchase the Glenmorangie.

43 Frank April 7, 2009 at 7:50 am

I consider myself relatively new to the sport of Scotch drinking. I have tried perhaps 12 brands, many of which were single malt. That said, I have found that Johnnie Walker Green (not a single malt, but a blend of single malts) is my favorite. Gold is also a pleasant experience, but Green is something truly special, and less expensive. I tried Blue label once with my father-in-law. We both agreed that we liked Green better. The great upside? Green is significantly cheaper than Blue. I couldn’t afford to drink Blue all of the time, but Green (or Gold on special occasions) is a great compromise, and leaps and bounds above Black.

44 TTTimo April 7, 2009 at 9:45 am

Drinking the sweat of history.

45 r.brass April 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Being as my ancestors came from the Orkney Islands, I am a bit
partial to Highland Park. The northern most scotch distillery.

46 Jon April 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Great article on Scotch. I’ve recently become a big fan of single malts. This educated me on the drink I’ve recently started to really enjoy.

If you do an article on guns, be sure to mention my site.

47 Panamahat April 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm

While I love the taste of good Scotch, everyone I’ve ever tried gave me a headache
within an hour or so of consumption. Irish, Canadian, and Bourbon don’t bother me at all. I miss Scotch, but I love WhiskEy. No headaches, no hangovers, and more affordable. GEORGE DICKEL RULES!

48 Mr. Martini April 8, 2009 at 7:12 am

This is a wonderful article and should really help out many who are interested in scotch.

My favorite scotch for the last 2+ years has been Laphroaig 15yr from Islay. Fantastic dram!

49 Tis Tom April 8, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I would also recommend this

http://www.oldpulteney.com/

It was my first bottle of scotch and one that I returned to many times after.

50 harry Butler April 8, 2009 at 8:04 pm

My first Scotch experience went badly… Johnny Walker Green label in college… it reminded me of turpentine. Not that I was regularly imbibing turpentine: “reminded” is not “tasted like.”

About 22 years later (in the midst of a genuine affection for beer, particularly English ales and Irish stouts) I was visiting my friend Vic in London. He suggested an after-dinner digestif, a “wee dram of fine Scotch.” I initially declined, citing my college mishap. He merely said, “Ahh, Harry me lad… allow me to properly introduce you to the breath of the angels.” Whereupon he uncorked a bottle of The Macallan… 18-year-old The Macallan.

A nice lead crystal glass, 3/4 inch of Speyside beverage, with a mere splash of filtered water… as Neo might have said… “Whoa.” Sip it… taste it with the tip of the tongue, the center, let it roll off the sides and swallow. Breath of angels, indeed. Nearly an hour of sips, favourite music selections and wonderful conversation later, I was a changed man.

Vic introduced me to 12-year-old Glenmorangie the next afternoon, for an intro to Highland whisky, and sent me home with my own bottle of 15-year-old Balvenie Single Barrel. That was 1997.

That bottle was opened last summer with my son, my brand new son-in-law Matt, his brother and his father. It was worth the wait. To show his appreciation, Brent (Matt’s dad) sent along a very nice “thank you”… a bottle of 16-year-old Lagavulin. They, and an as-yet unopened bottle of 22-year-old Clynelish (distilled in 1972), await suitable companions and appropriate occasions. They are not your casual, every-day whisky.

It’s a wonderful journey.

51 Elaine W Krause April 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm

SO, if you’re unlucky at cards, but of a discerning palate, where’s the loss? My hat’s off to you, sir. You covered most of the major points — though I’d've preferred more info about the differences between the regions; or how, perhaps, to start a modest “starter” collection.

In any event, I care not your politics or ethnic lineage. If you are for it, you’re my friend for life.

However, a wee note of clarification — the feminine gender can surely enjoy a wee dram along with ‘ye from time to time?

Elaine

52 Jacoba April 8, 2009 at 11:58 pm

This has to be the best post/article on Scotch Whisky that I have ever read in my life! I’m really impressed and even though I’m not male, I will quietly enjoy this site from ‘this day forward’.
You won’t even notice me ……

PS – I think your writing style is great and I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the negative comments.

53 Promosi April 9, 2009 at 2:30 am

Scotch Whisky vs Scotch Milk

Which better ?

54 Stephen M. April 9, 2009 at 8:56 am

Someone above mentioned an everyday whisky, and I agree, there should be (unless you have way too much drinkable income) a difference. My regular drinker is Dewar’s White Label. It’s a blend, none too fancy, and tastes a darn sight better than JW Black. As for special occasions, I love The Singleton 12yr, can’t be beat.

55 Ron April 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

Maybe it’s about time I tried Scotch Whisky. Very Interesting post.

56 sean808080 April 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Having discovered Mcallan 12 I have not tried any others since I was so taken with the smooth flavor. This article is inspiring me to try new ones. Cheers!

sean808080
http://sean808080.com

57 DMG April 9, 2009 at 9:20 pm

replace aquae vitae with “uisge beath” please the correct Scot’s term

58 Robert April 10, 2009 at 5:55 am

Good primer article. My go-to is Lagavulin 16 yr.

59 Smiler April 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm

uisge beatha was the Scotish Gaelic and uisce beatha is the Irish Gaelic from which whisky/whiskey comes from.

60 Dascamel April 10, 2009 at 9:47 pm

My .02

As a liquor store owner I have sampled about 90% of the liquor, beer and wine in my store. Scotch is not a big seller in my area, southern Illinois. My advice on if you should try scotch is how you like Jack Daniels. JD seems to be have a taste similar to most scotchs. Bourbon and Canadian whiskey have a very different taste from scotch, rye is not to far off. Also the idea to try some blended scotch first is very good, most blended scotch is a little smoother and will have a more stable taste from bottle to bottle.

61 Kyle April 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

I would think it would be good to mention the wisdom of looking at smaller distillers’ products when discussing Highland, as I’ve always found the larger ones to be on the short end when it comes to their work.

If nothing else, Edradour should never be left out of any such discussion, as it’s one of the finest things ever produced by mankind.

62 Blogging Guy Jacob Duchaine April 11, 2009 at 6:36 pm

I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but there’s a Scotch named “Inver House Very Rare Scotch Whisky” that sells for $10.50 in parts of America.

Is that a real Scotch, or is it some sort of fake?

Whatever the case, I rather enjoy it. I’ve never had better scotch, but I find even this cheap version quite pleasant.

63 Adam Snider April 13, 2009 at 7:27 am

@Dascamel – I find it odd that you’d say rye isn’t far off from scotch (and also that you seem to make a distinction between rye whisky and Canadian whisky when, with rare exception, Canadian whisky is always rye). I’ve tasted my share of both Canadian and Scotch whisky and I don’t see much in the way of similarities between scotch and rye. They’re both good, but they’re very different beasts, at least in my mind.

64 Dascamel April 13, 2009 at 9:18 am

@Adam Snider
I should have elaborated a little more on the rye part. I was speaking about straight rye or at least 80% rye whiskey. The comment about rye vs Canadian is an old time discussion, as Canada does not require a specific amount of rye in the whiskey to call it rye. Where America as specific requirements to call bourbon-bourbon or even sour mash. While Canadian whiskey has almost always used rye in their mash/mix, as of the last 30 years the majority of whiskeys distilled in North America uses a mash due to the new ongoing distillation process.

Single malt rye or small batch rye has a similar spicy(?) or active flavor that single malt scotch has. Also when you drink rye you drink it almost the same as scotch; straight, a little water or even a little dash of soda.

Last but not least I am not saying rye whiskey or even Jack Daniels is a exact comparison to Scotch in general. But Bourbon and in my opinion Canadian whiskeys have no comparison to scotch, so if you are looking to “see” if you would like scotch you go to whiskeys that are available and are popular/inexpensive.

65 Богдан April 27, 2009 at 5:01 am

My first bottle was The Singleton 12 yr, which is wonderfully smooth and not too heavy. Great for starters. Someday, I hope to try Laphroaig which I hear has a huge smoky, peaty flavor…

66 Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky April 28, 2009 at 5:39 am

Those of you who find the peated whiskies too strong might be interested in our range of Unpeated Single Malt Whiskies, which omit peat smoke from the process (we dry our barley with warm air) and hence have a smoother and more subtle taste.

67 James May 3, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Nice article. I recently started drinking Scotch. I started with The MacAllan 12 and I liked it right away. In fact, I the first time I tried it my wife was laughing because I kept saying how good it was. Seriously, I couldn’t believe how good this stuff was because I don’t like beer or wine or bourben, but I now love Scotch. I guess I have expensive taste. hahaha. I also tried The MacAllan 18. Very good Scotch but frankly I don’t see the difference between it and the 12. In fact the 12 seems to be a bit sweeter. At any rate, I love the complexity of flavor and the sweet finish. I’ve never been so enthusiastic about a drink. I just finished my bottle of Macallan 18 tonight so I’ll try another flavor from the article. Well done.

68 seo May 28, 2009 at 11:44 pm

It is one of favourite drinks of Johnny Depp…

69 ChuenSeng June 17, 2009 at 7:38 am

Great post on single malts. I have always enjoyed the taste offered by scotch whisky. My personal high point regarding whiskey would be the time when I tasted a 30yr old Single Malt Laphroaig. Totally something out of this world and was simply amazing! Truly a class of its own.

70 R. J. Vincent July 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm

I enjoy a sip of the Glenlivet from time to time. It’s good for what ails me. I can vouch for the adding of a bit of water from an episode of “Modern Marvels” that looked at distilling and the show visited some of the distilleries in Scotland. The gentleman who explained how to properly enjoy single malt scotch (a distillery exec, I think) also said that a little water opens up the flavor and makes it even more enjoyable. Great article.

71 Michael August 5, 2009 at 12:46 am

My short list of great entry-level scotches: Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Caol Ila. The Caol Ila is a bit smokey for the entry-level list, but is truly delicious. If you want to lay out a little more, the Glenmorangie “Nectar D’Or” or the Distiller’s Edition Caol Ila are really interesting variations. Beyond that, it’s up to you!

The sense I get is that most first-time scotch drinkers get turned off by the burn. My advice is to start with a good, strongly flavorful scotch (like Talisker) and mix in (filtered!) water until you find it palatable. It’s actually quite good like that and there’s nothing shameful about it. Eventually you’ll find yourself wanting it a bit stronger and a bit more — and even starting to enjoy just the hint of a burn. Remember though, that wiith many scotches, even some of the best, they remain better with a touch of water.

There’s actually chemistry behind this — many of the chemicals responsible for flavor are aromatic oils. They can only dissolve above a certain alcohol content. Dissolved they can remain in the liquid forever, so the flavor does not change. However, by adding a bit of water you get them to drop out of solution making a more aromatic and flavorful drink. (This is the same reason Absinthe and fresh Limoncello will louche.)

So the next time someone scoffs at you for putting some water in your scotch, remember your manliness is not only backed up by tradition but by science. Leave the blustering and the burn to the children.

72 Michael B August 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

My short list of great entry-level scotches: Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Caol Ila. The Caol Ila is a bit smokey for the entry-level list, but is truly delicious. If you want to lay out a little more, the Glenmorangie “Nectar D’Or” or the Distiller’s Edition Caol Ila are really interesting variations.

The sense I get is that most first-time scotch drinkers get turned off by the burn. My advice is to start with a good, strongly flavorful scotch (like Talisker) and mix in (filtered!) water until you find it palatable. It’s actually quite good like that and there’s nothing shameful about it. Eventually you’ll find yourself wanting it a bit stronger and a bit more — and even starting to enjoy just the hint of a burn. Remember though, that wiith many scotches, even some of the best, they remain better with a touch of water.

There’s actually chemistry behind this — many of the chemicals responsible for flavor are aromatic oils. They can only dissolve above a certain alcohol content. Dissolved they can remain in the liquid forever, so the flavor does not change. However, by adding a bit of water you get them to drop out of solution making a more aromatic and flavorful drink. (This is the same reason Absinthe and fresh Limoncello will louche.)

So the next time someone scoffs at you for putting some water in your scotch, remember your manliness is not only backed up by tradition but by science. Leave the blustering and the burn to the children.

73 Jason Murray August 11, 2009 at 10:29 am

Glenmorangie 10 year is a wonderful simple whisky and a great one to introduce someone to whisky. It needs a little water to take the bite out. The flavor is very gentle but complex. There are subtle hints of oak and a little nutty hint. the main flavor is of citrus fruits. A great first whisky and a long time favorite.

74 Neil Hess August 22, 2009 at 2:21 am

Glenmorangie is light amber in colour and when you swish it around in your glass,you can watch how it leaves a thin film of whisky around your glass before it falls back down to the bottom.The smell is lovely and has a subtle scent of barley.It has a taste which is light on the palate but warming to the spirit.It is a great whisky. http://www.royalhabanos.com

75 Abe September 3, 2009 at 1:09 am

My first bottle of scotch was Glenlivet 12 yr. old. I received it as a gift. Once I poured a shot into a large snifter glass, I thought to myself, scotch really is delicious.
I am now through my 4th bottle of Glenlivet; just love the wonderful aromatic smell and taste. Recently I tried Balvenie 12 yr old Doublewood and I must say it is outstanding. The Glenlivet 18 yr. old I would also highly recommend to those who don’t mind spending a few bucks. But this drink is a dream!

76 Kingstrum September 13, 2009 at 12:21 am

Good information on drawing out some of the mystery surrounding such a long-loved, yet underappreciated, drink.

After 20+ years of enjoying many fine single malts — including a 30-yo Glenfiddich — I have to say that they all have a bit of unique character that enables one to select based on mood, occasion, personal taste, etc. Just as Bourbons have a nice range of flavors to suit many differing palates…hard to go wrong with a good bit of Jim Beam and an icy Coke on a hot day.

For my money though, the best “day-to-day” single malt remains the 15-yo Glenfiddich Solera Reserve (+1 to @Bill for the earlier mention). Other very fine whiskies have sat on my shelf, but that particular brand and age always seems to be what calls me back like a siren song. Price can vary widely, but can usually be had for under $50 in most locales.

As for the perceived “sin” of watering one’s whisky: keep in my mind that a lot of the nay-sayers are either beginners who don’t know any better or old hands that don’t want to appear weak. Always try something new as unadulterated as possible to find out where your palate lies, but never be afraid to experiment. However, the pairing a single malt with a slice of pineapple — or really, any fruit, nut, berry, olive, onion, or paper umbrella — should be grounds for eviction from this planet directly into the sun.

77 William Jones September 18, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Today Glenfiddich is the bestselling malt whisky worldwide. And that is justified! In 1963 the Grant Family were the very first distillers who dared to sell its malt whisky outside of Scotland, and for their enterprise they reaped both derision, Montecristo cigars and contempt from their competitors and fellow distillers. The taste of a malt was considered to be far too rough and unsubtle to expect it to appeal to an English or continental palate.

78 Robbo September 26, 2009 at 1:47 am

My first bottle of scotch was a 12-yo Haig. My father bought it for me on the day I was born for us to enjoy when I turned 20 (the legal drinking age at the time I was born.) I’ve since tried a Grants Blended Scotch Whisky and I recently opened a bottle of Glenfiddich 12-yo which was a gift from a friend. The Haig is Does anyone know much about the Haig distillery? The bottle tells me that it comes from Markinch, Scotland but I don’t know much apart from that. I’m curious because my namesake is on the bottle (although in a different spelling.) I haven’t seen another Haig Whisky since finishing the first and will certainly jump at the chance to try it again.

79 Cedrik October 14, 2009 at 10:54 pm

I’ve gotta say I tried a few scotch whisky now and I can affirm that I now have a fetish region for my whisky selection. I, as almost everyone, started of with a Glenfiddich and apreciated it. It opened a door to a new world of discoveries, where my taste buds can go nuts every time I sip off a dram of this golden nectar. While having started with softer scotch I have bought some really tough ones too (Aberlour A’bunadh 60.2%) and found them to be less attractive than smoother, smokier whiskies I previously had (Caol Ila 10yo, Talisker 12yo, Bowmore 12yo, GlenDronach 10yo) Anyway nobody can judge someone’s taste for a drink, not even if it’s a guy sipping on a vodka-cranberry with a straw XD

80 two-bit cowboy October 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Terrific article. Very neat that the ladies acknowledge it, too. I’ve met as many lady malt lovers as men.

Thank you, Michael @ 21, for the chemistry explanation.

Kyle @ 11: Edradour, absolutely! It’ll turn the heads of lovers of The Macallan 12 year old.

Bunnahabhain 12 and 18 year olds are wonderful. Highland Park, too. If you want a really mild single malt, try Scapa 14 year old or Tullibardine 1993. Want to try a smoke/peat dream dram? Ardbeg Uigeadail or The BenRiach 10 year old Curiositas. An unpeated Speyside other than those mentioned — The Glenrothes, either Select Reserve or one of the more costly vintages. Old Pulteney 12 year old is another terrific starter whisky, or a daily dram.

81 Myself January 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Brilliant post! I’ve been drinking Jack Daniels for quite some time now, as I developed a taste for it (it was the first whisky I had tried). On prompting from this guide, I went out and bought the 10 year Glenmorangie. It’s wonderful, far exceeding Jack Daniels, which has a rather pronounced burnt taste I hadn’t noticed until trying another. It will certainly remain upon the shelf of my household.

I wonder, does anyone have any recommendations for another whisky? There are plenty of names being bandied around here to give one plenty to choose from, but is there is any significant name you would choose? I’ve heard it might be an idea to buy the more matured whisky of the same type to see how it matures.

82 Little Mac February 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

My first was Glenfiddich 12 Special Reserve; that was a nice introduction.

My all-time favorite is Aberlour 12; I have always found it to be considerably less expensive than the more “popular” brands, and very smooth. I’ve had an Aberlour 18, but still prefer the 12.

I just had Cragganmore 12 last night, and think that would also make a good starter. It was extremely light, sweet, and smooth; very little of the “burn” to it.

I’ve also just had Oban 14, and was very impressed. Slight smoky, peaty flavor to be expected from a Western Highlands single malt, but not overpowering by any means.

83 Kherova February 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm

ICE: I can understand if you say cold hides some of the flavor, but I actually prefer with a couple of cubes. The reason being that water acts quickly, but an ice cube melts allowing the drink to develop and change as you experience it. Initially it has more bite, but as the cube melts you get a little water, and afterward more water. I find as long as I don’t overload with ice, you get these little pools of slurry around the ice cube where the water and scotch haven’t fully mixed yet that add even other facet to the tasting experience.

84 Stephan March 4, 2010 at 6:07 am

I’m only 24 years old, but I’ve started really enjoying whisky, although it’s taking me some time to get used to the taste. I’ve always added ice to my whisky/whiskey, but now that I read this article I think I’ll refrain from that!

I’ve tried The Glenlivet and really liked it, but as a college student it’s a bit out of my price range. Usually I stick with Jameson or Makers Mark, but on inspiration of this article I picked up an 18 year-old bottle of Laphroaig single-malt on eBay. I’m deployed overseas right now with my Army unit, but when I return home I think it will be a nice treat to share with my buddies.

85 Ryan March 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm

The first scotch I ever got to try was McCallan 15yr. I was hooked at that point. I work in fine dining so I encouraged management to do a scotch class for “training” purposes. Luckily I got to try Glenfiddich up to 21yr, Balvenie12, Oban 14(excellent), Talisker 10 and the JW series up to Gold in one afternoon.

The first bottle I ever bought was Highland Park 12yr. Its a great scotch in general and at only $40 a bottle its very approachable. My next purchase is going to be Highland Park 18yr.

86 ryan March 24, 2010 at 11:16 am

I visited The Glen Livet distillery in Scotland, I bought my first bottle of 18 year Glen Livet, after sampling the 12-year, the 15-year, and the 18-year, the 18 was the smoothest.

87 Rim March 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I’m glad I found this article because I was interested in becoming a Scotch drinker. I’ve had whisky here and there, but the last time I had it (a few months ago), I remember I liked the smoky flavor of it.

I just went to a liquor store and I was going to buy Glenmorangie until I saw it was $40 for a fifth! I considered a small bottle of Glenlivet but the store guy recommended McClellan and I’m glad I bought it. It has the smoky flavor that I like and it was only $25 for a fifth. I also remembered that it was also recommended here and I’ll second that. I can’t see any marking on the label on how long it has matured. Does that mean it’s been less than 10 years?

I tried a sip neat, but being a beginner, I ended up putting a splash of water (no ice) and it is a pleasant experience. I may even buy a nice glass for drinking Scotch.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their insight!

88 Daniel May 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I absolutely love scotch and have gravitated towards the Islay malts, being Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavulin. Its hard to find a scotch with so much flavor as these. I have actually done some nice reviews, which can be found here in my blog. I recently reviewed 5 different scotches, ranging from Highland to Islay malts, smooth and cheap to smoky and expensive. My blog is http://blog.dalucastraps.com/, ENJOY!

-Daniel

89 JEANIE June 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Has anyone ever heard of Ping.It was a brand my husband drank years ago.I have been trying to find it but can’t.I would love to surprise him with it.Please let me know if anyone knows where I can get it.
Thank You,
Jeanie

90 Samer H July 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm

My suggestion: Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Keep walking. :)

91 rwbenjey July 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I believe the sampler from The Balvenie distillery was my intro to scotch. The 12 Year Doublewood wasn’t too bad. The 15 Year Single Barrel was ok, but the 12 was still in the lead. The 21 Year Portwood was the best of the three, but once I found out how much the a 750ml bottle was…that was a sad day. The next round went to a few Glenfiddich samplers–12 Year and 15 Year–which were alright as well.

Now, I did enjoy the prior two samplings, but I wanted something that didn’t remind me at all of the sweetness of my cognac; I wanted something unique (otherwise, I would have just stuck with the brandy). I read rave reviews of the Islay peat monsters and was curious, so I decided to try Laphroaig 10 Year Cask Strength. At first, when I popped the cork, I thought I maybe had made a mistake (as I had never smelled anything like that before from a liquor bottle). But after pushing past the first encounter with the peat smoke, kippers, and pepper, the taste was an instant and lingering reward…wow it was good; smoky, but richly sweet as well. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Current Cabinet:
- Laphroaig 15 Year
- Laphroaig Quarter Cask
- Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist
- Ardbeg Corryvreckan
- Ardbeg Uigeadail
- Ardbeg 10 Year
- Caol Ila 12 Year
- Bunnahabhain 12 Year
- Bowmore Legend
- Highland Park 12 Year
- The Balvenie 12 Year
- Glenmorangie 10 Year (Original)

92 Z September 22, 2012 at 5:07 am

Wonderfully written article.

I just drank to get drunk until I discovered scotch. I was introduced to it by a friend who gave me, in this order:

1. A cheap blended scotch (happily downed cause I like to drink)

2. A nice expensive blended scotch (clearly much better)

3. Finally, the single malt, Laphroaig 10yr (a revelation that has given me a new passion in my life)

I recommend this introduction for anyone. I work in a bar, and I cannot count how many people I have introduced to Laphroaig, with similar reactions, many buying bottles at the bar, asking for other recommendations, and returning frequently to drink more and discuss other scotches with me. Some customers are so actually grateful for the introduction that they often share their bottles with me or buy me drinks. I am similarly grateful to the friend who introduced me.

Besides Laphroaig 10, Bowmore 12 is another good choice and both are relatively commonly available. Yes, it’s an expensive hobby, but definitely worthwhile.

93 Chris September 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Only two I drink anymore are The Macallan 18 yr old and The Balvenie Doublewood.

94 d September 23, 2012 at 7:45 am

I haven’t tried any scotch whisky as of yet, but I have a bottle of ‘the Singleton single malt scotch whisky of Glendullan’ on my shelf. I chose this brand because we share the same name. Im excited to try it out. Thanks for the tips.

95 Bryant October 19, 2012 at 1:22 am

I studied in St. Andrews this past spring. Brought home a bottle of Endradour (the smallest legal distillery) single barrel cask strength. God bless those three masters who make such a gift to men.

96 Keith October 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I’d drank wine and beer, as well as mixed drinks, but never straight liquor before, but my brother and I decided to buy a bottle of scotch for our birthdays (which are in the same week) this year.

We’re both hooked! It was an amazing experience! We went with a MacAllan 12 year, and I prefer it with a splash of water to bring out the flavors. I’m looking forward to trying others, but it’s an expensive taste, so drams are few and far between. Hopefully around Christmas we’ll go halvsies on another bottle. I’m still trying to decide what we should get.

97 Jonathan October 26, 2012 at 9:27 am

My first bottle of Scotch was purchased on a trip to Edinburgh. I just had to bring a bottle of Whisky back from Scotland with me. I was hoping to find something unique, but I had no clue what to look for. With a little help, I ended up buying a 12 year Glenmorangie. When I returned home, however, I saw the same bottle for sale in our local shops! Well, after I opened the bottle I definitely enjoyed it. Glad to know in my ignorance I still ended up with a good whisky for starters.

98 Leo October 29, 2012 at 5:06 am

Won’t drink anything except Scotch.

Love Dalmore and Jura.

Cheers

99 Adam October 31, 2012 at 3:07 am

I’d love to recommend Dalwhinnie. It is a Whisky i had around 10 years ago and have recently got another bottle (this article inspired me to buy it). It tastes just as good now as it did then! bottoms up!

100 Scott November 6, 2012 at 6:32 am

My favourite whiskey is the Laphroaig 15 year. A note of warning though to anyone thinking of shelling out for a bottle; it is an Islay whisky and is very peaty. Some of my uncultured friends have likened it to TCP but they didn’t have the guts to stick around for the second sip, after-which I was hooked.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter