Whisky and Scotch Recommendations

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December is going to be fun! It's going to be hard waiting 2 weeks to start popping these open.

I just... bought 2 different advent calendars.

Gonna save the other one for January though.

Looking forward to the list and your thoughts.

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I'm sure it is sh*t whiskey by itself, but it is awesome in coffee!

Yum:)

Ew.

I just got back from the liquor store, and it looks like High West's winter seasonal, A Midwinter Night's Dram, is out. I plan to not get caught flat footed when they switch it out this season. Keep an eye out for it.

That is a *good* dram. I have part of a bottle from... 2018, I think? Almost gone. Thanks for the heads-up.

So, I don't plan on posting all 24 days, but figured I'd show Day 1 from the calendar for the curious. I'll probably keep a list and post it at the end.

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I'd never heard of Monkey Shoulder before, but after Googling it seems it's pretty popular. Checking my local stores it's also on the reasonably priced side. I don't have a fancy palate or anything so this won't really be a review other than to say it was pretty good. I didn't feel the need to put any ice in it and drank it neat. For comparison, my typical "goto" is JW Black and that I normally put in half a cube. My favorites that I drink neat are JW Blue (when given the chance) and Balvenie Caribbean Cask (and honestly I prefer Balvenie even though it's cheaper).

23 more to go!

I don't drink a lot of blended Scotch Whiskys, but I do like Monkey Shoulder.

I'm also a fan of Balvenie. Their doublewood 12 was one of the first bottles of Scotch I bought.

Monkey Shoulder and Compass Box Great King St are both great options for reasonably priced blends that punch above their weight.

Agreed. I am more a bourbon guy but I do pick up Monkey Shoulder from time to time. I also prefer JW black, but MS is a good buy.

Monkey Shoulder is definitely a great deal, and I've liked most everything Compass Box has done.

I've got this advent calendar this year:

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I'll be tweeting about it each day in this thread as has become tradition.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

It's so good. And it's not even the expensive Four Roses. But I don't think I'll get it again unless it's a special occasion.

I have a bottle of Four Roses that I've almost finished. My go-to recently has been mixing a shot of that into some tea. Usually something rooibos or herbal, as I drink it in the evening.

I was just in Warehouse Wines & Spirits in Manhattan talking with one of the liquor experts there, and he mentioned that he collected ryes (his favorite basic rye is the inexpensive High West Double Rye). And that word "collected" resonated with me, because while I'm interested in whiskeys and cocktails, I simply don't drink very often, and the thought of buying more than I need seems indulgent. However, I do like collecting certain unique bottles to be deployed at a later date (with the pandemic, I don't even have game nights or friends dropping by as an excuse.) "Collecting" is a different notion than utilitarian buying to drink right then, but it makes perfect sense to me.

I was sent to the liquor store with orders to, "restock our supply of bourbon." I may have taken some latitude with the definition of restock. The S.O. informed me upon my return that I was not supposed to be restocking an actual bar, just our liquor cabinet.

Smooth Ambler Contradiction
Russel's Reserve 10 yr
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Pikesville Straight Rye
Maker's Mark 46
Four Roses Single Barrel
Old Forester 100 proof
Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage

Natus, I had a similar discussion with my best man the other day. I was saying I liked Knob Creek (& Basil), Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and a couple others and didn't really love Maker's and a couple others. We concluded I prefer bourbons with rye rather than wheat.

I had never really examined why I liked one or the other. But now I want to experiment with some of the "high ryes". And definitely pay more attention to what I try when I see something new to me on sale.

Frankly, it’s easy to differentiate the high rye mash bills from the lower ones. It’s the level of spice. The more rye, the more spicy and varied the flavors are, and the more you are sure you are not drinking a bourbon. Less rye, more corn and barley, you’ve got a milder, slightly sweet rye. Flip it over to 80/20 corn-barley/rye and you have bourbon.

I love the ryes in part because of the flavor, but also because they were the first American whiskey, and there are a lot of old punch and cocktail recipes that pay homage to that heritage in very tasty ways. If you want to see the difference first hand, mix up a bourbon Manhattan and a rye Brooklyn and try them against each other. The difference is not subtle. Both are good, however.

JC wrote:

I was sent to the liquor store with orders to, "restock our supply of bourbon." I may have taken some latitude with the definition of restock. The S.O. informed me upon my return that I was not supposed to be restocking an actual bar, just our liquor cabinet.

These are all good choices. I'm a particular fan of Smooth Ambler because they're doing some really interesting stuff and I like that a lot of their stuff is different every time because a number of their product lines are about process and not about getting "sameness" across batches.

Today I picked up a bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail and a bottle of Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14.

So far I've only had a glass of the Uigeadail, which is quite tasty. I've read that it's considered mellow compared to the standard Ardbeg 10, but I don't have a bottle of that handy for comparison. In fact, I think it's be an almost criminally-long time since I've had a bottle of Ardbeg in the house.

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As promised here is the list from the Advent calendar posted above.

Day 1 - Monkey Shoulder Blended
Day 2 - Rock Island Blended (Islay, Arran, Jura and Orkney)
Day 3 - Green Isle - Deluxe Blended (Islay)
Day 4 - Tamdhu 12 Year Old Single Malt (Speyside in Sherry casks)
Day 5 - That Boutique-y Whiskey Co. Speyside No. 3 6-Year Old - Batch 3
Day 6 - The Singleton of Dufftown 12 Year Old Single Malt
Day 7 - Talisker 10 Year Old (Isle of Skye)
Day 8 - Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old (Islay)
Day 9 - Glengoyne 12 Year Old Single Malt (Un-peated Highlands)
Day 10 - Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old Single Malt (Speyside)
Day 11 - Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Single Malt (Speyside)
Day 12 - Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke (Lowlands, Peated)
Day 13 - Lagavulin 8 Year Old Single Malt (Islay)
Day 14 - Mortlach 12 Year Old Single Malt (Speyside)
Day 15 - That Boutique-y Whisky Co. Inchfad Batch 1 - 13 Year Old (Loch Lomond Distillery)
Day 16 - Wolfburn Langskip Single Malt (Northern Scotland)
Day 17 - Tobermory 12 Year Old Single Malt (Isle of Mull, Un-peated)
Day 18 - The Glenrothes 12 Year Old Single Malt Soleo Collection (Speyside)
Day 19 - Clynelish 14 Year Old Single Malt (Highlands)
Day 20 - Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old Single Malt (Highlands)
Day 21 - Mortlach 16 Year Old Single Malt (Speyside)
Day 22 - Talisker Port Ruighe Single Malt (Isle of Skye)
Day 23 - Berry Bros. & Rudd - The Perspective Series 21 Year Old Blended
Day 24 - Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt (Islay)

As expected I didn't really like many of the island scotches, but they've grown on me a bit. I did actually enjoy the Talisker Port Ruigh, the Aerolite Lyndsay (Fun fact - "Aerolite Lyndsay" is an anagram of "Ten year old Islay"), and the Tobermory 12 (which is a bit of a cheat since it's unpeated). The highlights for me were the Berry Bros. & Rudd, Tamdhu 12, Clynelish 14, Mortlach 16, and the Balvenie DoubleWood. I've never tried the DoubleWood because I had it in my head it would be similar to the JW Double Black (where it's basically double the smokiness) but that was not the case and it was most excellent.

Vega, that's a nice list. I've only had a handful of those (1, 7, 10, 13, 24).

I think that Balvenie DoubleWood has been mentioned here once or twice. That is a fantastic whisky and was essentially my gateway into Scotch single malts. I've since drifted more toward Islays, but still revisit Balvenie on occasion.

I've added that Talisker Port Ruighe to my list of bottles to look for at the store.

Balvenie DoubleWood is absolutely one of my favorites. I've learned to appreciate a lot of Islays and have definitely had my tastes head more that way than most Highlands/Speysides, but that Balvenie is always good, and it's undoubtedly the Scotch I've purchased most. Great stuff.

Right now this is my absolute favourite. Stauning is a fairly small distillery from Denmark, so I have no clue how easy it is to get a hold of it if you’re not in Europe. It’s one of the lighter smokey whiskies I have had. But for a whisky that is fairly young (younger than 10 years) it tastes better than most above 20-year-olds. You have to like peaty whiskies though.

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Brainsmith wrote:

Right now this is my absolute favourite. Stauning is a fairly small distillery from Denmark, so I have no clue how easy it is to get a hold of it if you’re not in Europe. It’s one of the lighter smokey whiskies I have had. But for a whisky that is fairly young (younger than 10 years) it tastes better than most above 20-year-olds. You have to like peaty whiskies though.

At very least, it's a gorgeous bottle. I love all these new whiskeys from different countries invading the market.

Robear wrote:

I love the ryes in part because of the flavor, but also because they were the first American whiskey, and there are a lot of old punch and cocktail recipes that pay homage to that heritage in very tasty ways. If you want to see the difference first hand, mix up a bourbon Manhattan and a rye Brooklyn and try them against each other. The difference is not subtle. Both are good, however. :-)

A Brooklyn? I'm not familiar with it. Got a go-to recipe?

I mostly drink Manhattans at a 3:1 ratio of whiskey to vermouth.

Once COVID hit my wife and I definitely hit these pretty hard. For a while I was playing with the whiskey and settled on a Wild Turkey 101 as my preferred every day drinker, but we shifted back to an 80 proof. Lately, I've been playing with the vermouth. That's been a real treat.

The real constant for us has been Amarena cherries. I haven't found a better cherry.

The Brooklyn is, quite simply, a tastier version of a Manhattan. It does not need the Amer Picon brand, but Angostura bitters or a similar bitters that you like are necessary. Try it at the recipe ratios until you are comfortable with the added punch of the rye flavors, as compared to bourbons.

And the “maraschino liqueur” should, of course, be Luxardo. If you can get hold of the Luxardo cherries in syrup or another version of them, add a small dose of the syrup from the cherry bottle for a bit of extra flavor and sweetness. (DO NOT use American “maraschino” cherries, they are nothing like the real thing at all and are worthless for cocktails.)

Edit - Just saw your Amarena cherries recommendation. I think Luxardo are a tiny bit better but they are the big two competitors in the field. Those will be just fine in the drink.

And I'm off to get some Luxardo!

Also - If you're into cherries, I'll occasionally substitute the sweet vermouth in a manhattan with a cherry Heering. It gives a nice subtle cherry-ness.

I’m ahead of you on that. I’ve been known to simply drop the dry vermouth and use the Luxardo to fill it out. I like sweet things.

BTW, Luxardo is a great treat. Best cherry liqueur out there. And the cherries! Like Amarena, you’ll have to hide them from your family if they like cherries on ice cream or something. Sumptuous. Decadent.

Luxardo cherries are insanely good, but, for about $20 for a small jar, they should be. The liqueur is also great, and it's always on-hand because the Aviation is one of my wife's preferred cocktails, even though there's no whiskey so SCREW YOU GOING OFF-TOPIC NOW BABY.

Um . . .

I do find myself really drawn to sours in general, as the holy trinity of spirit/citrus/sugar just hits every note for me. I'm still in love with the Penicillin:
2 oz blended Scotch
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.375 oz ginger syrup
.375 oz honey syrup

Serve in a rocks glass over a big cube of ice, and float some Laphroiag over the time, and garnish with a couple pieces of candied ginger on a skewer. You get citrus, the long honey sweetness, the subtle zip the ginger syrup, the iodine brush fire of that bit of Laphroiag, and the aromatics of the candied ginger. It's just so damn good.