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fierce debate

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fierce debate

Postby Chris » Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:57 pm

I'd like to get some whisky connoisseurs' opinions on a debate my buddy and I have been having. Although we enjoy malts, our everyday drink tends to be the more moderately priced and widely available blends. In particular, Johnnie Walker Red (I know the Black is better, but it's expensive) and the Famous Grousse. Our hotly contested debates centre over which of the two is the overall "better" scotch. The Red seems to have a more intense flavour- the Grousse a little sweeter. The Grousse however is slightly smoother.
Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks.
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Postby Admiral » Tue Oct 21, 2003 4:18 am

A few million Scots can't be wrong.

Go the Grouse.

(Although Red Label tastes better with Coke! :wink: )
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Postby stig » Tue Oct 21, 2003 8:14 am

After a positive change in the spirit taxes in Denmark some malts are cheaper than blends like J Walker red. So why drink blends?

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Postby redlich » Tue Oct 21, 2003 10:23 am

Taste is ofcause very personal, and noone has a "wrong" taste ;)

But my personal preferences if I had to choose one of those two blends would be the Grouse, but I agree with Stig, why not try out some of the cheaper malts ?

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Postby Chris » Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:13 pm

True about the Scotts preferring the Grouse, but my Scottish friend says that that is largely because the Grouse is cheaper than JWRed in Scottland. JWRed is actually considered more of premium blend.
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Postby Gate » Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:40 pm

I'd go for Grouse of the two - it's a fine whisky (I love JW Black, but find the Red a bit rasping). But I wouldn't go for either as my everyday blend of choice. For that, it has to be (as praised by all right-thinking peatophiles everywhere) Black Bottle, or (as not quite so widely praised, but still pretty damn wonderful In my view) Bailie Nicol Jarvie. Te Bheag (unfiltered) is also very fine. I'd watch those cheap malts. They can be great value, but sometimes they are cheap for the very good and simple reason that they are s***e and probably can't be sold off any other way. I speak from recent experience, having forked out what I thought was a bargain £11.99 for a bottle of Drumguish which would have spoiled anybody's blend :cry:
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fierce debate

Postby Lawrence » Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:06 pm

Have you tried the range of malts from McClelland's? They have a Highland, Speyside and Islay all for about C$39.95 while most blends range about C$10 cheaper, at least that's the pricing in BC, I suspect the difference in price will be similar in Ontario. These are some of the more value priced malts available in this part of the world. Explore the world of malts it's more fun than blends.
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Postby DENIS » Sat Oct 25, 2003 8:08 pm

WHY NOT TO TRY COMPASS
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Fierce Debate

Postby Lawrence » Sat Oct 25, 2003 8:50 pm

I'd love to try Compass Box whiskies but they are unavaialble in Canada............
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firece debate

Postby WestVanDave » Mon Oct 27, 2003 6:46 am

Chris - I've just been glancing through the Ontario price list and can feel your pain. Prices out here in BC are bad too - and our selection is worse than yours... Your LCBO price list adds insult, however, by teasing its readers with at least 35 whiskys (of 145 listed) that are shown as N/A...

Following up on Lawrence's recommendation - the McClelland Speyside is priced at $32.65 in Ontario (vs. $39.95 in BC) and the young (5 yr. old) McClelland Islay is $31.70... worth a shot. Also a relative bargain - try the Longmorn at $44.95. Not available in BC -and normally $43 in Alberta it is an excellent malt. (See below)

While there are some noteworthy blends (for example, I just picked up some Campletown Loch 25 year old ~ Springbank Distillers, around $70)... the cheaper, less noteworthy tend to be so as a result of their high grain whisky component... The grain whisky / malt whisky proportion is never disclosed - but generally thought to be 60/40 in average-premium blends and possibly as much as 80/20 in lesser blends. Basically, no matter how good or how many different single malt whiskys go into the mix on a blend - there is no escaping the dilution of grain whisky.

So, if you enjoy them, fine. I wouldn't say no to a Famous Grouse (while I have taken a pass on the JW Red) I would be in the "life's too short" camp and suggest that Single Malts are worth the extra...

The bargains on your Ontario price list (Cdn $) - and also showing the BC and Alberta prices:

Aberlour 10 at $40.80 ON / $39.95 BC / $25.50 AB
Glen Garioch 10 at $39.95 / n.a. / $33
Dalmore 12: $46.65 / $46.95 / $31
Highland Park 12 $59.95 / $59.95 / $38
Laphroig 10 $44.95 / $52.45 / $32
Longmorn 15 $44.95 / n.a. / $43
Scapa 12 $44.95 / $55.95 / $41

So, a couple of messages:
1) When travelling to Alberta - take an extra suitcase
2) Be happy you're not in BC

Cheers, Dave.
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Postby mickblueeyes » Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:46 pm

The McClellands Highland is 100% Glen Garioch, the Lowland is 100% Auchentoshan and the Islay is 100% Bowmore. They are aged about 5 years.

I don't know about where you are at, but here, the McClellands is about the same price as Auchentoshan Select, Bowmore Legend and Glen Garioch 10 yr. There are also several othere cheap malts available: Glen Moray, Aberlour 10, Dalmore 12, and Speyburn (though I don't recommend Speyburn).
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Postby Chris » Mon Oct 27, 2003 7:10 pm

thanks for the relpies. The McClelland Islay malt sounds interesting. I'll have to try it. I definately love the peat! Does anyone know which of the widely available blends have an emphasis on the peat/smoke flavour. I know JWRed does, which is why I enjoy it, though admittedly it is a little rough going down. I've heard much about Black Bottle, but here in Canada, it's not available.
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Postby bartok » Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:10 pm

I recommend Speyburn
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Postby peatreek1 » Tue Oct 28, 2003 2:04 am

Aberlour 10 is the best of the bunch. Speyburn gets a bad rap because it is so cheap (I've read posts from people who say they had to pour it out), but it really is good value, in the sense it is average quality (compare to other singles) but at a much less than average price.
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Postby Admiral » Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:19 am

:shock: Wasn't the purpose of this thread to discuss & compare JW Red with Famous Grouse???

To suddenly start comparing and recommending Speyburn or Aberlour 10 seems a bit off the mark!
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Postby mickblueeyes » Tue Oct 28, 2003 4:22 am

I believe we have a threadjacking in progress Admiral :)
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 28, 2003 9:11 am

:shock: We're all still in shock over the JW Red & Coke and it knocked us into this thread! A true free flowing conversation.
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Re: Fierce Debate

Postby DENIS » Tue Oct 28, 2003 9:44 pm

IF YOU WANT I CAN PUT YOU ON CONTACT WITH THE UK REPRESENTENT OF COMPASS IS A GOOD FREIND
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Postby mickblueeyes » Tue Oct 28, 2003 11:43 pm

In all honesty, I tried the Compass Box and it was good. However, for the asking price, I will find myself a good Single Malt.
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fierce debate

Postby WestVanDave » Wed Oct 29, 2003 3:35 am

In response to Admiral's concern of the tangent taken...I believe that no one intentionally and maliciously took this towards a plug for Aberlour 10 or Speyburn - but couldn't help go that way when Chris' question was prefaced with his comments:

I'd like to get some whisky connoisseurs' opinions on a debate my buddy and I have been having. Although we enjoy malts, our everyday drink tends to be the more moderately priced and widely available blends. In particular, Johnnie Walker Red (I know the Black is better, but it's expensive) and the Famous Grousse.


That's all it takes for malt snobs to jump in and suggest comparable value in the single malt world - especially here in Canada where we can have such opressive local governments monopolizing distribution, offering limited supply and dictating ridiculous pricing - as is Chris' dilema in Ontario and mine in British Columbia. :cry: It's enough to lead someone to drowning their Scotch - blend or otherwise - in Coke! :lol:

OK - there's my rant. But truthfully, one of the more measurable values I have received from visiting this site has been the discovery of some pricing anomolies (great value opportunities) in different parts of the country that I have been able to take full advantage of. :)

Cheers, Dave.
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Postby Shigga » Sat Jan 17, 2004 4:13 pm

I still pity the man from BC. When I read the prices my eyes went :shock: - and here I thought living germany was expensive for a whiskylover. Well Norway and Sweden are even worse I heard. The tax there is unbelievably high!
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Postby Aidan » Sat Jan 17, 2004 6:27 pm

The irony is that Irish whiskey is cheaper in France, Germany, Italy etc than it is in Ireland.
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Postby WestVanDave » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:13 am

Aidan - to confirm your comment - a friend of mine just brought back a bottle of the Jameson 18 Master Selection from Ireland - at 100 Euro (approx. $190 Cdn.) for 70 cl. and now it has just become available in our pricey BC - Canada liquor stores for $79.95 Cdn. YIKES. Now that's ironic - given the standard for high pricing in BC. And Shigga - thank you for your pity.

Cheers, Dave.
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Postby Shigga » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:55 am

You're welcome, Dave :] The Jameson 18 - price is around 70 to 75Euro in Germany...
I'm just sitting here with a dram full Johnnie Walker Black Label an wondering what Canadian I should buy... suggestions welcome! :)
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Postby hpulley » Mon Jan 19, 2004 12:42 pm

Canadian whiskies:

I don't know if Forty Creek is shipping internationally yet but if so, their Barrel Select is very good.

Wisers Very Old 18yo is also worth picking up. A little more expensive (as much as extremely cheap single malt or a decent blend) but has many more years on it.

Harry
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LEARNING WITH SINGLE MALTS

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:24 pm

I'm very much a malt whisky novice, although I've now sampled 100 or so expressions from 60+ Scottish distilleries.

In my entire life, I've never tasted a malt/grain blend. Friends have always told me that blends are bland and disinteresting compared to singles.

Are these friends right or are certain blends really that good that they warrant distracting me from my single malt voyage of discovery?
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Postby hpulley » Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:40 pm

Grain/malt blends are different, not worse or better. They should be taken on their own merit, not compared directly to things which they are not. To me, you can't compare malts to grains or either of them to blends; might as well compare them to gin and vodka.

In general I don't like blends, preferring single or vatted malt or grain bottlings (many of which are blends of malts or of grains, of course) over blends. A good blend, to me, is one where I can't tell it has any grain whisky in it (which tells you why I don't like them in general). I don't like a corn overtone to the malt whisky (which is why I prefer Forty Creek Barrel Select to their Three Grain malt/maize/rye product). Some say they drink blends when they're drinking, not appreciating but I prefer a decent unassuming grain whisky to a blend (especially a cheap blend) most of the time but that's just me.

A blend I do like that isn't at all expensive is Teachers Highland Cream. Don't know why but I do like that one (I like Ardmore and Laphroaig which go into it, perhaps that's why). I'll certainly drink it instead of cheap grain whisky!

Te Bheag is pretty good though I do get a corn overtone from it. Johhny Walker is quite drinkable, even Red though it is kind of rough. I'm not fond of Famous Grouse (no grain overtone, just bland IMO), Grant's Family Reserve (bland again) or Ballantines (even though it contains my favorite single, Ardbeg) but again, that's just my taste and opinion.

Harry
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Postby Shigga » Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:57 pm

hpulley wrote:Grain/malt blends are different, not worse or better. They should be taken on their own merit, not compared directly to things which they are not. To me, you can't compare malts to grains or either of them to blends; might as well compare them to gin and vodka.


Yep that's what I thought when I read your post eel (though I disagree with the gin/vodka comparison a bit ;) ), but it's straight to the point. There are a lot of ppl out there who generally despise blends for the simple fact that they are what they are.

Personally, I enjoy a glass of Johnnie Walker from time to time which is a real good one imho regarding the price/performance ratio (is that expression correct? sry if not =) ). You get a good taste for a reasonable price. Never tasted Teachers, but I will if I get the chance. Don't go for Black Bush though my first impression was a strong hint of smelly feet in the nose ^^
well you can't argue about taste...
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Grouse vs JW Red

Postby Ardbeg78 » Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:58 pm

The debate I have with my whisky drinking friends is between Grouse and JW Black. Even here--with JW-B costing almost twice as much--there is no clear answer.

Like many things, depends on your mood. Sometimes the sweeter, grainier Grouse other times the mellow Black.

Fact is you can't go wrong with either; two of the finest whisky's in the world.
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Postby Ash » Tue Jan 20, 2004 12:51 am

Grouse

Fact is you can't go wrong with either; two of the finest whisky's in the world


I've heard it all now :!:
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Regarding reasonably priced widely available blends...

Postby Chris » Tue Feb 03, 2004 6:42 pm

I recently tried Teachers and was pleasantly surprised. It had a full flavor, although a little sweet for me. It has a very high malt content 45%. It certainly has more depth than the much touted Grouse. Still the best combination of depth, smoke and peat goes to JW Red (in this price class).
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Postby Admiral » Wed Feb 04, 2004 3:30 am

Interestingly, Teachers was given one of the highest scores, (and certainly one of the most praising reviews) in Jim Murray's recent Whisky Bible.
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Postby hpulley » Wed Feb 04, 2004 4:22 am

Funny, Jim likes the blend I like (Teachers) and his uber-malt is mine as well, the 1975 October - 2000 October 25yo Ardbeg bottled by Douglas Laing from the Old Malt Cask line. Guess I really should buy his book...

Harry
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Postby WestVanDave » Wed Feb 04, 2004 7:51 am

Harry - let us know if and when you see Jim Murray's Whisky Bible in Canada. I was under the impression it had been sold out in its first run... I have been trying to find a copy.

To follow up on this thread and the search for a "reasonable blend" - my vote goes to Campbeltown Loch 25 year old. It sells for around $70 Cdn in Alberta - and when I last checked the Ontario (LCBO) website it looked like they were clearing them out for the giveaway price of $24.95... If I'd known I would have backed up the truck (hey, it's only a few thousand miles away).

Cheers, Dave.
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Postby Aidan » Wed Feb 04, 2004 8:26 am

I would agree with you on the Campletown Lough 25 - it's the nicest Scotch blend I've had. You should deffinately pick up a bottle or three, as they've stopped making it as of this year.

I have Jim's book and it's very good. Some real surprises in it, though.
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