I’m 36 years old and before this year I had tried scotch twice in my life. Once I was seventeen and on Spring Break. We were at the house of someone’s parents and we were having trouble scoring something potent to drink (a horrible thing on Spring Break). A girl offered me a bottle with a red label to try. She said it was her father’s scotch. It was horrible and left a lasting, negative impression that kept me safely insulated in the world of North American whiskies like Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, Makers Mark, and occasionally Canadian Mist.
Then last year, I found out a friend of ours liked scotch. I’ve normally been a beer or vodka on the rocks guy myself, so I knew nothing of scotch except what I remembered from Spring Break all those years ago. On the way to their house one evening, we stopped at a liquor store and I asked the guy behind the counter for a good scotch as a gift. He handed me a bottle of Johnnie Walker blue or black. It was okay; I think we both had a small tumbler over ice and left the rest on the counter when we switched to beer.
And then here’s where I began to get hooked. Our scotch-loving friend and his wife went to Scotland and came back raving about their trips to the distilleries and a place called the Whisky Castle. Shortly after that, his wife purchased a bottle of Lagavulin, at the recommendation of the gentleman at the Whisky Castle, and had it shipped to the US for his birthday. The next time I went over we had a glass of that over ice. It was like a revelation. This scotch was smoky and tasted a bit like the earth itself. I could have lost myself just sniffing the glass for minutes at a time.
Since then, I’ve started buying bottles of scotch for myself. I went through a couple bottles of Glenlivet, which I drank over ice, but the Glenlivet didn’t feel that far removed from the Jack Daniels over ice that I grew up drinking. Right before Thanksgiving, we went to a bar here in Indianapolis and they had a nice selection of scotch, or they had more than just Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. I started out with a Dalwhinnie neat and liked it a great deal more than the Glenlivet. Next I moved to a Talisker neat; that really warmed me up. The bartender started talking about his favorite scotches, and I mentioned the Lagavulin. At that point he smiled and pointed to the end of the row of scotch bottles. There it stood, the smoky beast that turned my head and nose months earlier. Well, I had to have a glass of that, didn’t want to be rude.
The very next day I went to one of the better liquor stores around here to look for Lagavulin. The guy at the store laughed and said that they rarely were able to get their hands on it, and if they did it would cost $80. Yikes! But he was kind enough to point me to something that he thought would meet my needs – a bottle of Laphroaig 10yo.
The Laphroaig was the next revelation. No more ice in my scotch, ever. There’s something about that smoky, peaty smell and taste that just makes me feel connected to the earth in some way. Maybe it’s the romantic notion of this fiery liquid sitting in wooden casks by the sea for years that gets to me; maybe it’s just the taste and the smell of the result. Whatever it is, I’m a little hooked. During Christmas we visited my wife’s family in Washington, DC. At the liquor store I was thrilled to see cases of Lagavulin sitting there priced at $51 a bottle. I bought two bottles of the Lagavulin and a bottle of Caol Ila 18yo for $42. I grabbed a bottle of Oban 14yo as a Christmas gift for my brother in law, and he got me a bottle of Glenfiddich Solera Reserve.
So now I find myself with a very small collection of scotch and a growing list of future purchases.
Lagavulin 16 yo (2 bottles)
Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15yo
Caol Ila 18 yo
Bottles on the horizon:
Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength
That should keep me well stocked through the year, I hope. I’m also excited to discover these forums, though I’m afraid it will be both a blessing and a curse. I’ve learned a lot by reading the posts here, but it seems like everyday I discover another suggestion to add to my must buy list.
So thanks everyone for expanding my whisky horizon, I look forward to learning much more in the future.