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What is a good starter Scotch brand?


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#1 of 27 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted July 28 2007 - 06:40 AM

well my drinking buds all have developed a taste for Scotch and while I'm a tequila guy I'd like to experiment and see what they like about scotch.

However I'm not ready as of yet to go ignorant into a liquor store and just buy any bottle, I want to educate myself a bit first hence the post.

Suggestions?

#2 of 27 OFFLINE   PhillJones

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Posted July 28 2007 - 08:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu
well my drinking buds all have developed a taste for Scotch and while I'm a tequila guy I'd like to experiment and see what they like about scotch.

However I'm not ready as of yet to go ignorant into a liquor store and just buy any bottle, I want to educate myself a bit first hence the post.

Suggestions?

That's about as big a question as you could ask. Well perhaps not really but it's a bit like saying, 'I thought i'd try cheese, any suggestions?'

Seriously though, Whisky (which is it's real name Posted Image), is extrmemly diverse, from the triple distilled lowland Auchentoshan to the king of peat, Ardbeg it's impossible to guess what somebody will like so the question is, which have you tried of those, which did you like? If you haven't tried any, one good place to start is at a whisky tasting. Good whisky merchants will take the time to help you select whiskys to try so that you can get a feel for the landscape and see what you like.

Another route is to pick up a book by the drinks writer Michael Jackson, no not that Michael Jackson, this ones a middle aged, overweight, white englishman. The intro will tell you about regions and some of the characteristics of whisky.

However, if you truely are shooting blind and want to buy the whisky that you're almost guaranteed to find palatable, if you're going to like anything, try something from the Speyside region. Glenmorangie is the one that I always think is the easiest whisky to drink. As you get a taste for it, you'll naturally tend to go for the more challenging fuller flavoured malts, which as a general rule, come form further west.

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#3 of 27 OFFLINE   ChristopherG

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Posted July 28 2007 - 09:54 AM

Do a search here in the After Hours Lounge for the term "single malt". There is a good thread that discussed the various whiskies that one might sample...
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#4 of 27 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 28 2007 - 11:47 AM

And if you are new to the subject, the better single malts may be over your head...not that you are ignorant, but rather that their flavors may be off-putting to a novice.

Where do you live? In the west Trader Joes has interesting whisky specials.

An old standby is Johnny Walker Red Label, a very nice blended whisky.
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#5 of 27 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted July 28 2007 - 11:56 AM

I KNEW the HTF would come to the rescue!

I am ignorant of scotch however I do know plenty about Tequila, Bourbon, Rum, etc.

Just never felt the need to learn about scotch until now.

#6 of 27 OFFLINE   Paul_Medenwaldt

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Posted July 29 2007 - 10:21 AM

I started with the Blends. Johnny Walker Red all the way to Blue was my introduction to Scotch. Once I enjoyed the smoothness of those I wanted something with a little more bite and moved into the Single Malt Glenmorangies and Glenrothes.

I would recommend finding a restaurant that has a Flight of Scotches where you can get a small sample of different areas of Scotland.

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#7 of 27 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted August 02 2007 - 07:30 AM

And just to complicate matters - don't forget Irish whiskey (note the different spelling). Generally smoother than Scotch and with an equally impeccable pedigree. Usually folks start with Jameson's, but there are plenty of others to try.

The usual health warning - whisky/whiskey is a spirit, so be careful!

And when you first try it, I strongly suggest you water it down by circa a half with water (that's generally the way the Scots drink it). With some of the stronger tasting whiskies (e.g. Laphroiag) this can perversely enough make the drink too strong-tasting (the 'burn' from the alcohol masks it when drunk neat) but for most this is a good rule to follow.

#8 of 27 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted August 02 2007 - 08:32 AM

Mmmmmm, Laphroaig. Like taking a bite of smoked peat. But alas, the Islays are not for the beginner or the faint of heart, so on to the Scotches with training wheelsPosted Image . My advice, skip the blends. It's a good place to start, but to keep up with the bicycling analogy, they are the Big Wheels of the Scotch world and may lead to bad form when graduating to a real bike. My advice is like above, start with a Speyside. Glenmorangie is good, but I love The Macallan. The 12 yr. is reasonbly priced (for a single malt) and the 18 is great. From there you can branch out. If you like the experience, you can work your way up to the Islays, which are so chock full of peat and smoke, you'll think you inhaled a prairie fire.

#9 of 27 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted August 02 2007 - 01:29 PM

And to keep this sort of on-topic for the HTF:
www.wind.dk/film.whisky.html Posted Image

You can also try comparing a blend with a single-malt produced by the same guys, e.g. Grants vs. Glenfiddich. Grants is a heck of a deal at Trader Joes: IIRC a one-liter bottle is only $10. Posted Image Good for those low-paid British professorial types.
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#10 of 27 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted August 02 2007 - 01:31 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Nicholls
And to keep this sort of on-topic for the HTF:
www.wind.dk/film.whisky.html Posted Image

You can also try comparing a blend with a single-malt produced by the same guys, e.g. Grants vs. Glenfiddich.

I really don't consider Glenfiddich a true "single-malt".

#11 of 27 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted August 03 2007 - 01:54 AM

Quote:
Mmmmmm, Laphroaig. Like taking a bite of smoked peat.

If your'e a Brit, the first taste that springs to mind is kippers. If you've ever put oak chippings on a barbeque you'll know what the taste is.

Yes, I agree that Laphroaig isn't the best to start on. Though having said that, if you develop a taste for it, you can find some of the milder malts insipid.

If you want to start with just one type, then I think most Scots would say The Macallan is the one to go for. Don't worry yet about going for some of the older vintages - this honestly isn't meant to sound patronising, but you have to get your tastebuds attuned to the stuff before the nuances of the older versions become apparent.

FWIW, my personal favourites are Jamesons, Highland Park and Laphroiag. I'd happily give either of the first two to a whisky novice.

#12 of 27 OFFLINE   ZaijiaN

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Posted August 03 2007 - 02:08 AM

I started off with Glenlivet, but decided I like the Glenfidditch a lot more. Scotch tastes are very personal. Find a reputable English-style pub in your area that has a scotch sampler and try out a whole bunch of different kinds. The biggest tip is to carry something to write on so you know which kinds you like. Because trying to remember after the fact is a waste of time Posted Image Oh, and bring a DD.

#13 of 27 OFFLINE   PhillJones

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Posted August 06 2007 - 07:11 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew markworthy
If your'e a Brit, the first taste that springs to mind is kippers. If you've ever put oak chippings on a barbeque you'll know what the taste is.

Yes, I agree that Laphroaig isn't the best to start on. Though having said that, if you develop a taste for it, you can find some of the milder malts insipid.

If you want to start with just one type, then I think most Scots would say The Macallan is the one to go for. Don't worry yet about going for some of the older vintages - this honestly isn't meant to sound patronising, but you have to get your tastebuds attuned to the stuff before the nuances of the older versions become apparent.

FWIW, my personal favourites are Jamesons, Highland Park and Laphroiag. I'd happily give either of the first two to a whisky novice.

Laphroaig is an excellent malt. I like all the Isley's. Have you tried some of the Bruichladdie's that have been coming out. I'm a huge fan of that distillery at the minute. All their distillery bottles are non-chill filtered and they don't use caramel, like the vast majority of distilleries. They also produce an amazing range of whiskys and really test the old assumptions that the region defines the taste. My favorite of theirs is Moine Mhor 3D.

Of the Isley's the one that I've found more beginers take to is Lagavulin. The standard 16YO is liked by most people who try it. It's that wine-like flavour I think softens it.

For a really challenging malt, I prefer Talisker. It's a fierce malt and tastes like iodine.

In terms of where to go for the more advanced scotch dirnker. I wouldn't even say that going for age is the first avenue. I reckon the thing to do is to look at independent bottlers, non-chill filtered, raw cask, even some of the vatted malts can be fun, that sort of thing. This is where a good whisky dealer is worth his or her weight in erm whisky.

One last thought. If you like Highland park. See if you can't track down a bottle of Old man of Hoy. It's by the Blackadder independant bottler. If you find it, you can thank me then.

http://www.whiskymag....whisky642.html

I got one for a leaving present for a guy in our lab. I tried it in the store and it was glorious.

#14 of 27 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted August 06 2007 - 01:22 PM

I am really enjoying The Glenlivet right now.
I have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black and it is tasty but The Glenlivet is a bit better.

I'm starting to distinguish the different flavors after a few days of one drink per evening.

#15 of 27 OFFLINE   Michael Harris

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Posted August 07 2007 - 03:48 AM

Quote:
I'm starting to distinguish the different flavors after a few days of one drink per evening.

Sounds like you're well on your way. Have fun trying things out. You may want to consider getting sampler packs of small bottles so you can try a variety without spending money on a whole bottle that you may not like.

#16 of 27 OFFLINE   PhillJones

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Posted August 07 2007 - 07:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu
I am really enjoying The Glenlivet right now.
I have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black and it is tasty but The Glenlivet is a bit better.

I'm starting to distinguish the different flavors after a few days of one drink per evening.

Just MHO and all that but I'd suggest you try some other Speyside or Highland next. Something like Speyside 10YO or Tamdhu if you like the sweet sherry notes in the Glenlivet. These will be presented with less roughness than I find in the Glenlivet. Alternatively, if you want something light and flowery and a little fruity, try Glenmorangie.

I would tell you what they taste like to me but that spoils the fun.

I'm actually running a whisky tasting this Thursday at a colleagues house. It's a beginners tasting and we're doing it on a budget so it's mainly distillery bottles, 10YO s or so. We've got

Lowland: Bladnoch 10 YO Gorden and McPhail (Independant)
Speyside: Speyside 10 YO
Highland: Glenmorangie 10YO (I nearly got the Clynelish because it shows the east highland saltyness off but went with the old crowd pleaser because it's newbies)
Island: Higland Park 12YO, you can't really go wrong
Isley: Ardbeg 15 YO. Bring on the peat!
plus a special no name 5 YO Isley by G+M, which is really smokey, just for a laugh.

#17 of 27 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted August 15 2007 - 10:34 AM

Well I've got a good taste for The Glenlivet now and I'm moving on towards The Macallan.

I can tell it is a more complex whiskey than The Glenlivet which was very easy to acquire a taste for. I've tried Glenmorangie as well and found it, as you said, light and easy drinking.

#18 of 27 OFFLINE   PhillJones

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Posted August 16 2007 - 01:56 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu
Well I've got a good taste for The Glenlivet now and I'm moving on towards The Macallan.

I can tell it is a more complex whiskey than The Glenlivet which was very easy to acquire a taste for. I've tried Glenmorangie as well and found it, as you said, light and easy drinking.

If you like the slight briny fresh sea flavour that hidden in the Glenmorangie, then that the Highland character coming through. A stronger sence of that can be got from the Clynleish or Oban. If, alternatively it's the lightness, the way it evaporates and fills your sinuses with spirity goodness, try a lowland, something like Bladnoch or Auchentaushan. They have more of a floral and grassy tones.

As for the Speysides, Glenlivet is a nice bottle, but not the best the speyside has to offer in my opinion, if you like the sweet sherry flavour, go for a bottle of The Speyside. Some people say it's really a highland but it gets it's water from the right place and has the Speyside character. Another good one is Tamdhu, in fact, I might go for Tamdhu first.

As if you needed more recomendations, If you like the way the speysides are a little heavier than the Glenmorangie, you could try getting into some Isand malts. Highland Park is a very good place to start, their 10 Year old is fantastic, smokey and peaty without being overbearing, it's well balanced and restrained. Alternatively you could go for an Isley. My favorite is Ardbeg but that's very peaty and may not be for the beginner, Coal Illa (pron. Cull eye-la) is a gentler whiskey and perhaps an easier introduction to the Isleys. If you're feeling adventurous, Lagavulin is the odd man out on the island since they're whisky's are heavily sherried. Lots of beginners I've tasted on it have really gone for it.

#19 of 27 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted August 31 2007 - 03:36 AM

I purchased a bottle of Lagavulin last night!
I can say that at first I wasn't all that thrilled with it but soon after it started to grow on me.

It is an unusual flavor for sure but talk about the smoky flavor! Wow!

#20 of 27 OFFLINE   PhillJones

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Posted September 05 2007 - 03:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu
I purchased a bottle of Lagavulin last night!
I can say that at first I wasn't all that thrilled with it but soon after it started to grow on me.

It is an unusual flavor for sure but talk about the smoky flavor! Wow!

Lagavulin is the odd man out of the Isleys, because they have a strong sherry cask flavour as well as the classic Isley peak and smoke. If you're after peak, try Ardbeg, their 10YO has the highest ammount of peak of any distillery bottle on the market. The Bowmore and Laphroig are also good. If you can get hold of Bruchladdie moine mohr 3D, it'll really surprise you.

If you want something more balanced, go for Higland Park. This year's 10YO is an absolute classic.

On a sadder note, the famed whisky critic Micheal Jackson, author of the guide to single malt whisky died a few days ago in London. Buy his book and drink a toast to him.


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