Please recommend a good scotch

EugeneR

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Hey folks, I need to buy a bottle of decent booze for a buddy's birthday. I don't drink Scotch, and I know he likes it, so I need some advice on what to get. I was going to spend in the neighborhood of $50-$60. Suggestions?
 

John*C

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Crown Royal would be a good choice and around the figure you want to spend.
 

LewB

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Ive never gone wrong with these 2 rules of thumb:

Ageing time in double digits
Name starts with 'The' as in 'The McCallan', 'The Glenlivet'
 

Chris Knox

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10 year old or better Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Macallen, or Glenmorangie. Anything in that neighborhood would be a wonderful gift. These are all single malts.

Scotch is an acquired taste to begin with so it can be tough to select a good brand. Scotch drinkers can be pretty particular. I'd keep the receipt and let him know that you have it if he would rather have a different brand.

Personally I like Bourbon myself, and Bookers is pretty darned good in that department at 50.00 a bottle, but you were looking for scotch, so there you go.

Glad to help...
 

Colin-H

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Laphroig or Talisker 10y, or if you're willing to spend a bit more, Lagavulin 16y.
 
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Rule 1: the only good Scotch is single malt - anything blended is perfectly suitable for cocktails, but should otherwise be avoided.

There are many different types of single malts, but you can roughly break them down into Lowland and Highland malts. The Lowland whiskies tend to be rather richer with a 'heavier' feel to them. This is largely because the whisky is matured in barrels that have previously contained sherry or similar, and some of the flavour impregnates itself into the whisky. Typically, Lowland mats are closer in taste and colour to blended whisky.

Highland malts on the other hand tend to be far lighter in colour and taste. Which you prefer is very much up to individual taste - there's no right or wrong preference. A knee-jerk reflex is to recommend something like The Macallan, typically because various ciritics regularly rate it the best Scotch. It is indeed an excellent Scotch, but it's not to everyone's taste.

The age of the malt is frankly of relatively little importance. For a start, if you're buying a single malt, it's unlikely that it'll be sold at under 12 years old anyway, so the issue is largely academic. However, older than this is not always better. I've had some older malts (25, 35 years old) that have simply become more 'concentrated' to the point where the subtleties that were there in the 12 year-old version have been lost. Plus, the very old malts are ruinously expensive in the UK, so I dread to think how much they cost over the other side of the Herring Pond.

I'd suggest the following:

If you want a fairly rich-tasting whisky, then The Macallan.

For a lighter-tasting whisky, Highland Park.

For a different tasting lighter whisky, Cardhu (has a curious aroma and taste that is unlike any other whisky).

If you want a real oddity, then try Laphroaig, which has an incredibly smoky taste (very akin to e.g. hickory chips on a barbeque). This is either a love it or hate it drink, however.

A couple of final things:

(a) Don't be afraid to try Irish whiskey (note the difference in spelling). There are many fine single malts and generally Irish is milder and smoother than Scotch.

(b) If you find whisky advertised as 'original cask strength' or 'single cask', grab it. Not many people know this, but single malts are generally made by blending the contents of several casks. This can affect taste quality. Often also the cask contents have to be watered down to meet particular tax requirements (long, long story). Also beware that original cask strength is more potent in terms of alcohol content - you have been warned!

(c) Remember that the correct way to drink Scotch is (obviously with caution and) watered down with at least half water (ideally water sourced from the same region of Scotland as the whisky, but to be honest, unless your tap water is heavily flouridated, it should be fine).
 

Dennis Nicholls

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Well you could always give the Glenlivit, 12 years old, and a DVD copy of The Man Who Would Be King. Helps get into the movie as it were.


So Andrew, how come they don't make whisky/whiskey in Wales?
 

Mark Sherman

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Look no further than Edradour. This is with out a doubt the finest scotch I have ever had. I have one blind taste test with some of the brands mentioned above. Edradour won hands down every time.




http://www.edradour.co.uk/placeframe.html
 
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Long history of chapel (basically, a high predominance of Christian sects heavily into teetotalism), plus an absence of the key ingredients (peat and cereal grains). It's difficult to make whisky out of sheep and coal.

However, having said that, there *is* a Welsh single malt (can't remember its name, sorry). I tasted it once - pleasant but not IMHO up to comparison with the better single malts of Scotland (or Ireland).
 

david stark

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dalwhinnie is another good single malt scotch not yet mentioned. And I'd certainly second votes for the macallan, laphroig and talisker.
 

Colin-H

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If you buy cask strength Scotch, you should cut it with somewhere between 2:1 to 4:1 water:scotch.
 

Marc_Sulinski

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I think a scotch drinker may be a little disappointed with Crown Royal.

I would recommend against Lagavulin and possibly Laphroaig (if it tastes anything like Lagavulin) unless you know that this person likes these types (Islay malts) of scotch, as they have a very potent flavor.
 

Jeff Gatie

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Both are very peaty, very smoky Scotch. Definitely an aquired taste. I would start off with a McCallan (smooth, no smoke) or a Glenlivet (little smoke) before trying an Islay. I love them all, but it took a little time to appreciate the heavy smoke of Lagavulin and Laphroaig.
 

Sami Kallio

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A friend of mine had 18y Lagavulin, simply awesome. Impossible to find but 16y you can find online (I have a few on their way).
 

Andrej Dolenc

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In the $50-$60 range you should be able to pick up a bottle of Balvenie 15yr old. The 15yr old is single cask - i.e. all the scotch in that bottle came from one particular cask. Says what cask # and what bottle out of that cask it is. And a damn fine scotch to boot!
 

Lew Crippen

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There have been a lot of fine suggestions. I’ll make a couple of very basic observations, since you are not a Scotch drinker.

There are really two basic types of Scotch: blended and single malt. Many, many aficionados strongly prefer the single malts, but as they have very distinctive tastes (and are different from one another), some drinkers far prefer the blends. The blends range from the inexpensive brands that are below your budget to ones like Johnny Walker Black Label (a bit below), to the lesser known, but pretty available ones like Johnny Walker Gold Label and their Blue Label (hard to find and expensive).

If your friend prefers the single malts (which I do), there are plenty of fine suggestions already.
 

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