Whiskey and Scotch Recomendations

The only thing you really need to know about Scotch is: Do you like the smoky peaty ones or do you like the lighter sweeter ones? Once you know the answer to that question you can go into any decent Scotch retailer, describe what you like and they will suggest 3 or 4 bottles and you can take your pick. I've yet to be disappointed using that method and I have drunk and bought a lot of Scotch.

So first thing you'll need to do is try some whiskies to find out which you like. Laphroiag (not my favourite) and Isle of Jura are good examples at the smokey peaty end. Glenfiddich and Glen Grant typify the other end. Personally I think the Glenfiddich whiskies are a bit boring until you get up to their 20 year olds. The Glen Grants are excellent smooth, easy drinking whiskies although they are slightly lacking when it comes to the finish.

Other things worth thinking about are that you probably want to aim at 10 or 12 year olds at a minimum. And 15 year old is probably the ideal balance between cost and quality. Sure, you could buy a $600 40 year old but are you going to notice the difference?

Also Scotch single malts roughly divide in two into Highlands & Islands for the very big smoky peaty and medicinal flavours and Speyside & the lowlands for the smoother, sweeter flavours. Personally my money is on the Speyside malts; they tend to be smooth and complex and where they are smoky it is rarely overbearing. They also tend to be the ones that non whisky drinkers take to easiest.

avggeek wrote:

For Whiskey I'd suggest the following:

- The Balvenie Doublewood 12 year - Info | Review
- The Macallan 12 year - Info | Review

Those aren't whiskey, they're whisky.

I always keep a bottle of Tullamore Dew around for the everyday casual sipping. Very mild, nice, almost everyone likes its taste, even people who are not into whisky at all. For a bit of a challenge I go to Smokehead. In this case, it's nomen omen all the way.

I like my scotch to taste like there's a bonfire in my mouth. Laphroaig, as already mentioned, is great. Ardbeg is arguably even smokier, and if you can find it on this side of the pond, Smokehead is smokier still, to the point of wanting to feed it to friends just to watch the expression on their face as they take the first swig.

If I am drinking Bourbon neat I go with Blanton's or Woodford. For mixing it is Old Grand-dad or Four Roses.

This is going to take a while to go through. I am thinking I might make a spreadsheet of all the recommendations just to keep track of what I try and all.

Nevin73 wrote:

So how do you all drink your scotch?

Straight up, I also take my Bourbon straight up. I briefly went through an ice and mineral water phase.

The cheaper it is, the more club soda I use. Woodford and Macallan are straight up.

If you want something in the higher price point for a special occasion (but still sub $100 line), I recently bought a bottle of 18 y/o Jameson's which is a very nice blended whiskey (avg. $75-85 in the US). Very smooth and eminently drinkable. This is my new house "special" whiskey which I bring out when the friends are over, selfishly keeping things like my Middleton Very Rare in the cupboard.

Also quite good is the Knappogue Castle single malt Irish whiskey ($40-50 per bottle). Very nice finish.

A friend at work opened a bottle of Johnnie Walker King George V (this is a special Blue Label) and we had more than a few fingers of that... holy crap. Not sure if it's worth the $350-500 per bottle that places charge, but it's pretty damn good.

That is something that bears investigation. If you are not a fan of straight whiskey, something like Canadian Club or Jim Beam Rye will work wonders in a whiskey sour, an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan.

One thing whiskey cocktails have over gin or vodka cocktails is a deeper flavor, and a smoother sweetness. I find that a lot of the fruitier cocktails with clear spirits tend to just taste like sugar water(which may be the point)-other than a proper martini or a gin/vodka tonic.

Cocktails may be a good gateway into whiskey drinking.

Maybe Rabbit can pop into here and bestow his Manhattan recipe.

I clicked on this thread expecting to bring something to the table, but damn you people are good.

Applause for the Evan Williams Single Barrel reference. I'd forgotten about that one. Haven't seen it in ages, but you are right that the '93 and the '99 were outstanding. Buffalo Trace was another great one I think I missed.

In the early part of the decade I went row by row at the local liquor wholesaler, Binny's. Your tongue is the only way to choose your favorite. I'd taste a lot before I got educated, as the learning might influence your opinion.

I like my whiskey or my scotch with just a single ice cube, regardless of the fingers. The patterns that the different temperatures of liquid, the cascading densities playing against each other, is as hypnotic as the alcohol itself. I couldn't bring myself to get stones, it would be like taking the eyes off the Mona Lisa.

I have the whiskey stones. They do a poor job of cooling, in my opinion. Plus, you might chip a tooth or your glass.

Add another vote to Johnny Walker Black Label as my "safe bet" whiskey at any bar.

wordsmythe wrote:

Those aren't whiskey, they're whisky.

Just looked it up and I am now enlightened. Thanks for pointing that out!

Nevin73 wrote:

So how do you all drink your scotch?

Usually with some club soda, although I am guilty of dropping a few ice cubes in there from time to time (I'm living in the tropics after all...)

I am a big fan of Cognac. I usually have Hennesey with diet dr. pepper. It is quite a delicious mixed drink.

I know you wanted to avoid going to your local liquor store, but now might be the PERFECT time to do so.

Last Christmas I started to look at 'grown up' drinks, and our local store had a "Whiskies from around the world' gift pack.

A collection of 3 x 200ml bottles, One Wild Turkey, One Chivas, and one Jamesons. From those three, I was able to identify with the 'base line' flavours of the three types (bourbon, scotch, irish) and then went back to the retailer, and took it form there.

They also had a similar festive Cognac pack (Henneseys) and that stuff is VERY nice. If you think scotch can be expensive, try looking at some bottles of Cognac.

If you do set up that spreadsheet of suggestions, feel free to share (or Google doc it).

I also like mine 'straight up', so you get the maximum feedback from the drink.

Never done a google doc, but I'll give it a shot.

Teneman wrote:

bunch of words... I'll also point you towards Oban...bunch of other words and a picture of something

This.

And Teneman? I think I love you.

Ok, very basic sheet just of suggestions and who suggest them. This way you can follow up if you are interested in a particular type. All who have the link are able to edit, so please, feel free to add fields if you think they are needed. I was going to do some descriptions, but since I don't know anything about any of them yet, I refrained from doing so. Thank you all again and I will hopefully start testing some different kinds out. I will probably wait to start until I get paid next week though.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?...

obirano wrote:

Ok, very basic sheet just of suggestions and who suggest them. This way you can follow up if you are interested in a particular type. All who have the link are able to edit, so please, feel free to add fields if you think they are needed. I was going to do some descriptions, but since I don't know anything about any of them yet, I refrained from doing so. Thank you all again and I will hopefully start testing some different kinds out. I will probably wait to start until I get paid next week though.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?...

QFT!

Teneman wrote:

Ahhh, Laphroaig. It's like smoke in a bottle. Pop the cork and it literally smells like there's a peat fire inside!

It staggers me that people say this like it's a good thing.

Jonman wrote:

I like my scotch to taste like there's a bonfire in my mouth. Laphroaig, as already mentioned, is great. Ardbeg is arguably even smokier, and if you can find it on this side of the pond, Smokehead is smokier still, to the point of wanting to feed it to friends just to watch the expression on their face as they take the first swig.

For the longest time I was convinced that I didn't like scotch because the only ones I'd tried were those abominations from Islay. I prefer ones like Tallisker or (although it's a betrayal to my scottish heritage) Irish Whiskeys.

A bottle of any sort of whiskey will last you a long time, so (as others have said) it's probably best to go to a well stocked bar and try a range of bourbons, scotches and other assorted whiskey-like drinks. My main point of advice would be to cast your net as wide as possible. It's also worth remembering that like coffee, wine or beer it takes a while to pick up on some of the more subtle differences (although things like the peatiness of Islay single malts will hit you like a freight train smelling of burnt dirt), so it'll take a while to adapt to. The best thing to expand your palette is to try as many types as possible!

obirano wrote:

Ok, very basic sheet just of suggestions and who suggest them. This way you can follow up if you are interested in a particular type. All who have the link are able to edit, so please, feel free to add fields if you think they are needed. I was going to do some descriptions, but since I don't know anything about any of them yet, I refrained from doing so. Thank you all again and I will hopefully start testing some different kinds out. I will probably wait to start until I get paid next week though.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?...

I added some columns, for the type of whisky and a description column. Not sure if people want to just stick with a single notes/description column or have a new column for each person.

DanB wrote:

The only thing you really need to know about Scotch is: Do you like the smoky peaty ones or do you like the lighter sweeter ones?

Best advice so far (along with "go to a bar first"). My advice to people who want to try single malts, or scotch in general, is usually to try Dalwhinnie, Macallan, and Laphroaig, which are three of the most different flavors you can get. Once you know how much you like those comparatively, you can get more more accurate recommendations for your taste.

I'm not a bourbon drinker, so I can't speak to that so much. My brother is and likes Bulleit as far as cost/value ratio.

Surprised Red Breast hasn't been mentioned yet. I've lately found myself more drawn to Irish whiskeys, and I've had few that compliment everything as well as Red Breast. Tullamore Dew makes a great whiskey, too, if you're looking for a less expensive alternative.

Like many others, I have a huge soft spot for Islay scotches -- Laphroaig and Lagavulin being my preferred. If you want to mellow the peat flavor, it'll cost you. The longer the scotch ages, the less the peat flavor from the water affects the flavor and the more barrel notes you'll get. I haven't tasted anything older than Laphroaig 18 year, but at that point the peaty smoke is like the lonely gaze of a ghostly woman, hovering uncertainly above the sea salt and honey fragrance.

Subscribing.

Added some stuff with Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. Helping out this thread while drinking Woodford Reserve on the rocks with a splash of lime. I know I'm a filthy non-purist.

KrazyTacoFO wrote:

Added some stuff with Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. Helping out this thread while drinking Woodford Reserve on the rocks with a splash of lime. I know I'm a filthy non-purist.

Woodford Reserve with lime? Hmm, well, I'll have to try that sometime... sometime well after I've adopted a more precarious existence on the brink of insanity. Don't worry, it's in the works.

Lobo wrote:
KrazyTacoFO wrote:

Added some stuff with Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. Helping out this thread while drinking Woodford Reserve on the rocks with a splash of lime. I know I'm a filthy non-purist.

Woodford Reserve with lime? Hmm, well, I'll have to try that sometime... sometime well after I've adopted a more precarious existence on the brink of insanity. Don't worry, it's in the works.

Now it wasn't much, just a little squirt. And I was a bit tipsy when I tried it, so don't be too harsh with your judgment when you try it.

But I am a filthy non-purist when it comes to my bourbon and whiskeys.

I have been enjoying rye whiskeys lately. The easiest to find is usually Templeton's which is fairly inexpensive.

Well, I went to a few stores and none of them had a variety tasting pack or some such thing. On impulse I grabbed a few of the travel size bottles. Grabbed Johnny Walker Red Label, Wild Turkey and Gentleman Jack. Haven't had a chance to try any of them since I realized I didn't have any ice when I got home. I'll update when I give one of them a try and hopefully I can get at least a bit of an idea of what I like. There were a few good gift sets, a Johnny Walker Black Label and a Glenlevet that had a sign, but was out. Also a Bushmills set which was nicely priced but forgot it had been mentioned in this thread and failed to pick it up. If anything, I need something decent to drink this stuff out of.