Whiskey and Scotch Recomendations

Good thread so far. I'll add my recommendations for an entry-level whisky/whiskey drinker:

Jameson's (irish whiskey)
Dewar's White Label (blended scotch)
Johnny Walker Red (blended scotch)

For single-malt scotch, I like:
Aberlour Abundah
Oban 14
The Dalmore

HedgeWizard wrote:

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. If I had another glass of this at Turkeycon, I might have had to share the fold-out bed with Demiurge.

I'll echo the recommendation of Oban--quite my favorite drink.

Well, tried the Johnny Walker Red Label. Was neither impressed or disgusted. Didn't really care for it, but it wasn't terrible either. Is there a significant difference between the red and black?

Not trying to be too pseudo-y about it but blended whiskies and single malts are worlds apart. I don't think you can get much of an appreciation for scotch from drinking blended whisky. Sure, Johnny walker is drinkable (although I think Monkey Shoulder is a much better blended whisky) but if I want a glass of good scotch I reach for something better. Really it's kind of mystifying why johnny walker is held in such high esteem outside of the UK.

Blending is an art form that deserves a great deal of respect. There are good reasons 90% of scotch whisky is bottled as a blend. Just as in wine, blending is about creating a consistent flavor profile. Usually that profile is round and centered in the gamut of potential flavors. That's why I recommended blends to start off with. They'll give you perspective so you'll know where you want to go.

I think the ill feelings towards blends are really about grain whisky. Its addition certainly degrades the scotch but in this thread only malt blends have been discussed. It's also useful to note that many scotches labeled "Single Malt" are in fact blends. "Single" only certifies the malt comes from a single distillery. This practice is obviously more prevalent at larger distilleries like Glenfiddich and Macallan.

My esteem for Johnny Walker comes from the quality of their product. Black Label is a good drink and very fitting for occasions when I'm not looking for something particularly engaging. And Blue Label lives up to the hype. It just has an incredibly robust flavor in every dimension while maintaining perfect balance. It isn't so great as to justify the price but at $80 it'd be a steal.

And incidentally, Johnny Walker doesn't recommend you drink Red Label by itself. That blend is for mixed drinks. And, because I found this very interesting, Johnny Walker recommends keeping Gold Label in the freezer like vodka. Although I found this idea rather strange, I tried it and it really seemed to work. A honey quality(taste and texture) that's absent at room temperature emerged which I quite enjoyed.

I don't know if that's an entirely fair characterization of blended vs single malt whiskys (whiskies? Silly Scottish people). You can have bad single malts, too, and a good distiller can take a blended whisky to new levels by crafting it to some very high specifications. For example, I really enjoy the Dewar's 12 year old, which is a blended whisky.

I actually think it's good to start an uninitiated palate on blended whisky -- if only because the monetary hurdle isn't as great.

Mimble wrote:
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. ;-)

I get that a lot

Seth wrote:

I don't know if that's an entirely fair characterization of blended vs single malt whiskys (whiskies? Silly Scottish people). You can have bad single malts, too, and a good distiller can take a blended whisky to new levels by crafting it to some very high specifications. For example, I really enjoy the Dewar's 12 year old, which is a blended whisky.

I actually think it's good to start an uninitiated palate on blended whisky -- if only because the monetary hurdle isn't as great.

I concur with both points. In my opinion I generally prefer single malts to blended, but that's just a preference. I don't think either is categorically better than the other.

Tried the Gentleman Jack tonight. Liked it better than the Red Label. Not sure what else to say.

Just picked up some Laphroaig Quarter Cask, will report back after research during Cataclysm launch.

Jealous of all of the expensive scotches. I spend my money on beer before I can save up.

It's not that there aren't good and decent blended scotches it's more that the blended ones are as far apart from the single malts as scotch is from bourbon.

I found myself standing in the Scotch aisle at the drunkards store last night. I stared down various bottles that were anywhere from $25 to $100. I couldn't pull the trigger. They had Laphroaig for like $44 but I have no idea if I'd dig it. Truth to tell I don't believe I've spent over $30 for a fifth of anything in my life, so perhaps I'll have to stick to beer :|.

get to your know liquor clerk. If you can ask him "I want a high quality liquor for xxx pricepoint," they should be able to reccomend something (and if not, start going somewhere else =))

I found Rebel Yell, which is a very drinkable bourbon for under 16 dollars, and Glen Salen, which needs some ice and some water but makes for a decent scotch and soda mix at about 13 dollars, based on recommendations from my clerk.

obirano wrote:

Well, tried the Johnny Walker Red Label. Was neither impressed or disgusted. Didn't really care for it, but it wasn't terrible either. Is there a significant difference between the red and black?

Complete night and day. Johnnie Walker Black is considered, by many, to be one of the best Wiskies out there.

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.

I will have to try Smokehead. Ardbeg is what brought me into Scotch drinking and Lagavulin and Talisker are two of my favorites. I love em Smokey!

Edit: http://www.whiskymag.com/ is a great resource for finding new stuff to try. I had their magazine subscription for a year but their website offers a ton of info on its own.

ColdForged wrote:

I found myself standing in the Scotch aisle at the drunkards store last night. I stared down various bottles that were anywhere from $25 to $100. I couldn't pull the trigger. They had Laphroaig for like $44 but I have no idea if I'd dig it. Truth to tell I don't believe I've spent over $30 for a fifth of anything in my life, so perhaps I'll have to stick to beer :|.

It's definitely not worth it (unless you have extra money to spend) to trial $50+ bottles of anything. Once you have figured out which flavors you prefer, then you can start investing in the more expensive scotches or whiskeys if you're inclined. But it does really suck to drop a chunk of cash on a really smoky scotch only to find that the peat flavor makes you want to vomit.

I'm sipping on some Makers Mark. After quite a few years trying a bottle every other year or so I think I can firmly say that it is over rated and would not really recommend it.

I'm thinking we need to go hang out with Seth and get a guided tour to this wonderful world.

You should definitely put this link https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Agi_lFCbcreOdG82Z011OFE3VVZidnBjN1ljQnhOQkE&hl=en&authkey=CJWC9LQE in the original post so it does not get lost in the shuffle.

For those who like Laphroig, I recommend you try Ardbeg 10 year old. It's my new favourite. Also, for those not put off by blends, and who like their scotch peaty, try The Peat Monster. The company is owned by a Texan which is interesting in itself. It's got a great peat taste but still relatively smooth (at least to my palate). Enjoy, and thanks for the recommendations. I love collecting new bottles.

HedgeWizard wrote:
ColdForged wrote:

I found myself standing in the Scotch aisle at the drunkards store last night. I stared down various bottles that were anywhere from $25 to $100. I couldn't pull the trigger. They had Laphroaig for like $44 but I have no idea if I'd dig it. Truth to tell I don't believe I've spent over $30 for a fifth of anything in my life, so perhaps I'll have to stick to beer :|.

It's definitely not worth it (unless you have extra money to spend) to trial $50+ bottles of anything. Once you have figured out which flavors you prefer, then you can start investing in the more expensive scotches or whiskeys if you're inclined. But it does really suck to drop a chunk of cash on a really smoky scotch only to find that the peat flavor makes you want to vomit.

The only thing I'd add is that my first single malt purchase was Laphroig and I did not like it! Way to strong for me at the time. The great thing about scotch is it keeps...for years. Over the years I've purchased a good number of bottles (currently have about 15 on the go), each one unique, but I've come to really enjoy Laphroig. In the end it will not go to waste.

Because of this thread, I just went out and bought a nice bottle of Oban. Ahh, Oban, how I love thee.

Filthy enablers.

Yeah, I would probably not start with Laphroaig, it's a bit of a beast.

ColdForged, try a glass of something next time you're out to dinner and the restaurant has a selection. Better to try a glass at $10 to see if you like it, than risk buying an entire bottle. Sample something like Glenlivet or Macallen, hard to go wrong there.

Ok. Wild Turkey tonight. I like it, though there is a bit of an afterbite.

Picked up a bottle of Laphroaig today based solely on the talk in this thread. I've never been much of a hard liquor drinker but of the very small variety of whiskies that I've tried over the years, I've always enjoyed the smoky ones. Just thinking about that flavor makes my mouth water. Laphroaig is not disappointing me.

obirano wrote:

Ok. Wild Turkey tonight. I like it, though there is a bit of an afterbite.

Yeah, it's got a bit of heat, that's why some people throw it on the rocks (the slight dilution from melting ice cuts it a bit). Try Rare Breed for a slightly better version of Wild Turkey.

Sorax wrote:

Blending is an art form that deserves a great deal of respect. There are good reasons 90% of scotch whisky is bottled as a blend. Just as in wine, blending is about creating a consistent flavor profile. Usually that profile is round and centered in the gamut of potential flavors. That's why I recommended blends to start off with. They'll give you perspective so you'll know where you want to go...

My esteem for Johnny Walker comes from the quality of their product. Black Label is a good drink and very fitting for occasions when I'm not looking for something particularly engaging. And Blue Label lives up to the hype. It just has an incredibly robust flavor in every dimension while maintaining perfect balance. It isn't so great as to justify the price but at $80 it'd be a steal.

I'm not sure I recommend starting with blends if you are trying to learn what you like, simply because you don't get the extremes to see where your tastes lie, but I do agree that blending is underrated. I think it's a macho thing.

I'm glad you invoked Blue Label because it is head and shoulders the best thing I've ever had... but even if it's twice as good, it's four times the cost. At $80 a bottle I'd probably drink it a lot; it's about $200 a bottle in PA last I checked. I was only able to try it thanks to a duty-free sampler I got years ago with small bottles of the Black/Green/Gold/Blue.

Minarchist wrote:
obirano wrote:

Ok. Wild Turkey tonight. I like it, though there is a bit of an afterbite.

Yeah, it's got a bit of heat, that's why some people throw it on the rocks (the slight dilution from melting ice cuts it a bit). Try Rare Breed for a slightly better version of Wild Turkey.

Kentucky Spirit and Russel's Reserve are both good as well.

beeporama wrote:

I'm glad you invoked Blue Label because it is head and shoulders the best thing I've ever had... but even if it's twice as good, it's four times the cost. At $80 a bottle I'd probably drink it a lot

Me too. Maybe it's a good thing the price keeps it out of reach

Just for the record, it's "Johnnie" Walker.

I'd love to try Blue Label sometime...maybe I'll get the chance someday.