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Suggestions for Beginners

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Suggestions for Beginners

Postby Wub » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:59 pm

I'm a relative beginner myself, but looking through old threads I've noticed that often new people will arrive at this forum, announce what they've tried before and ask for sugestions on what to try next, or they'll be given suggestions anyway. So it seemd like a thread devoted to giving suggestions might be a good idea (if not let it sink into obscurity).

I'm a fan of big, peaty Islays. If you like foods with intense, savoury aromas and tastes like blue cheese, fish sauce, hot salami, and smoked foods, then the chances are that you'll like these whiskies as well. I can only go on what I've tried, but here are my suggestions for starting with Islays:

If you're the type to test the water with your toes before entering: Bowmore Legend.

If you're the type to jump into the deep end and don't mind a bit of chlorine: Laphroaig 10yo.
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby lockejn » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:16 pm

And if you're the type to sit in a lounge chair beside the pool have a go at Glenfarclas 12 or Highland Park 12.
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby scotchdrinker » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:26 pm

What if you swim in the ocean :P
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby johan brugge » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:33 pm

Don't swim in the North Sea. The crap you get in your mouth from the dark brown water ... :yuk:
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby scotchdrinker » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:35 pm

I will take that under advisement but I was saying ocean that everyone would swim in not the north sea which from the sounds of it no one should swim in it :oops: Kind of like the Hudson River :shock:
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby Ganga » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:56 pm

Jura always reminds me of the salty-briney nature of the sea. However, many of the south shore Islays also work well here. Lagavulin, Ardbeg, PE all bring forth a certain amount of seaweed. Then again, there's the diesel thing which brings me to a fishing port. Wouldn't want to swim there!
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby dramtastic » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:52 am

My suggestion for beginners(and I'm one of them) is buy and try.
My first single malt, about three years ago, was Springbank 15, hardly one normally suggested to novices. The other, suggested at the same time by the guy at the liqour store, was Ardbeg 10!!?? Shit, I mean heavy duty stuff!

I've read many times that members were really turned on to whisky by Laga 16, not exactly 'Livet 12 is it.

If your going to become a whisky lover I can promise there is something out there for you, if it's not the first one you try, then just try something else etc etc, you will stop pretty soon if whisky is not in your blood. Oh, then go back and try the first one again, it might have been better than what you first thought.
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby lockejn » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:25 pm

dramtastic wrote:Oh, then go back and try the first one again, it might have been better than what you first thought.

This is good advice. Don't pour that first bottle you don't like down the drain. Stick it in the back of a cupboard for a few months and come back to it after a bit more experience. I can almost guarantee you'll find something wholly different - possibly even something you like.
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby Tightwad » Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:27 pm

I think its really hard to say what someone will like. I do understand the idea of a "less challenging" Whisky for a beginner but not many first time SMSW drinkers are "true beginners" (at least in the US) in my opinion.

The first six hard liquors I had were:

Jack Daniels
Jim Beam
Smirnoff
Bicardi
JW Black
J&B

I will be honest in that I didnt find Scotch (Blends) to my taste. In retrospect it might be wise to revisit them. I might have a very different opinion today.

Fast forward 20 years and I decide to try SMSW. A 1-2 on the 5 Point Intensity Scale is usually recommended for beginnners. I think that usually means a Lowland... although their are a few exceptions. The first three I tried did not fit that recommendation.

1. Highland Park 12 (4)
2. Macallan 12 "Sherry" (3)
3. Laphroaig 10 (5)

I liked every one of them. That from a longtime (although not in great quantities) Bourbon drinker.

While I did find the Laphroaig very different I did not find it "challenging". I would be willing to bet most Booker's drinkers would find it interesting.

My thought is the extremes will help you define your taste better than the more mainstream choices.
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Re: Suggestions for Beginners

Postby lockejn » Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:57 pm

Very insightful perspective. I think there are two types of beginners. Those who are truly motivated and excited about Scotch whisky (such as yourself) should definitely try the more extreme styles early on to help map out the territory. They're not likely to let a bad apple or two kill the enthusiasm.

But there are a fair number who approach the new experience from a more reserved (dare I say, timid) stance. These might try a monster (be it peat, sherry, or malt) and decide Scotch just isn't for them. Spending $50 on a bottle to discover it's not to your liking is a strong disincentive to carry on for some. And so, most often, we're inclined to suggest that beginners work their way up a gentler slope. By the time they try one of the monsters they're hooked and we never let them go :insane:

I think Highland Park is often suggested as a good place to start. That would be my personal recommendation for most, no matter which type of beginner they are. Depending on the results of that first tasting, you can usually get a good sense of where to go next. In your case, it was all the way to the wall. For others, it might be something more subtle.
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