Not a member? - Register and login now.
All registered users can read our entire magazine archive.

Can any one recommend an good beginner scotch?

Your tastes and our tastes are discussed here, so make sure you share your pleasures with us.

Can any one recommend an good beginner scotch?

Postby corzatrr » Sun Oct 24, 2004 9:27 pm

Friends and I are starting to meet monthly to taste scotch. I'm fairly new to this and I'm looking for good introductory scotches. Ive tried Glenlevit 12 year and found that fairly easy. I deffinately don't want scotches with heavy peat, smoke to them. Can anyone make some recommendations. I live in Canada so I don't know how accessible some varieties are.
corzatrr
New member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2004 4:37 pm

Postby BruceCrichton » Sun Oct 24, 2004 10:50 pm

Try something medium-weighted like the Speysiders Balvenie 10 or 12 and Cragganmore 12. These are particularly moreish whiskies with a fairly sweet taste, almost liqueurish in the case of Balvenie 10.

Try Highland Park 12 as well because if you don't like this then you don't like whisky.
BruceCrichton
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1274
Joined: Mon May 07, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom

Postby SasquatchMan » Sun Oct 24, 2004 11:06 pm

I'm not a big fan of sending a newbie to Balvenie - it is actually a very strong whisky, and most neophyte scotch drinkers find it very harsh. Balvenie's Doublewood is a much easier product to digest, but for the cost, a guy can do a lot better in terms of sampling. Agree that a medium spey is the best intro. Cragganmore is very smooth, but quite expensive in Canada. For cheap around here, try Aberlour 10 or Tamdhu. At around $35 a bottle (depending where you live) these are very friendly introductory single malts.

Don't feel that you need to break the bank to get decent scotch. The McClelland's series will offer you pretty good value as well, being top quality product that isn't quite as long aged as some. Very drinkable stuff IMHO.

Johnny Walker Black is a nice blend. Gordon Highlanders is also drinkable, a little more woody then most of the cheaper blends.

Find a bottle of Aberlour and post back what you and your friends think of it, then we'll go from there?
SasquatchMan
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:10 pm

Postby Admiral » Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:02 am

How about Glenmorangie 10yo?

It's widely available, cheap, yet a decent dram with a fair bit to offer on both the nose and the palate.

One could also argue that it's reasonably representative of the Highland Region.

Cheers,
Admiral
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby Lawrence » Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:19 am

What part of Canada do you live in?
Lawrence
Matured cask
 
Posts: 5019
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 1:01 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Postby corzatrr » Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:25 am

I'm in Ottawa. Great responses. Looking forward to trying out the recommendations.
corzatrr
New member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2004 4:37 pm

Postby islayjunkie » Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:57 am

Try Suntory 12yo Yamazaki... fairly inexpensive and very different. I'm not usually a fan of non peated/smokey whisky but I must make an exception to Suntory. The Japanese really know how to make whisky :D

I'm going to try Nikka Yoichi as soon as I can locate a bottle.
islayjunkie
Silver Member
 
Posts: 271
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 5:42 am
Location: California, USA

Postby Admiral » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:50 am

:roll: Not quite sure how Yamazaki qualifies as Scotch? :)
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby Frodo » Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:52 pm

I like Admiral's and Bruce's suggestions of Glenmorangie and Craggenmore respectively. I would also recomend trying Irish whisky if you don't like peat. I realize you said heavy peat, and Irish tends not to have any. You could do worse than 12yr old Jamison, Black Bush or my choice - Redbrest.

Glenkinchie or Dalwinnie are nice drams without peat coming out your nose. And for the money, Highland Park at $50 at the LCBO is real good value.

Regards
Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby BruceCrichton » Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:43 pm

SasquatchMan wrote:I'm not a big fan of sending a newbie to Balvenie - it is actually a very strong whisky, and most neophyte scotch drinkers find it very harsh.


Most curious. :?

I've always found Balvenie very smooth and almost liqueurish in it's sweetness.

Dalwhinnie 15 is quite sweet but more honeyed than Balvenie 10.
BruceCrichton
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1274
Joined: Mon May 07, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom

Postby SasquatchMan » Tue Oct 26, 2004 1:07 am

Bruce, perhaps I had a bad bottle. I have Balvenie 10 written up as very flavorful, but very rough. Punchy. The Doublewood was much nicer, but I felt that I was drinking the same (inferior) product, but that it had had a much nicer aging treatment, as was much more palateable for that. Still not a favorite though. I think the added sweetness in the doublewood is what made it more palateable for me...

That said, maybe I just prefer sweeter whisky? I'll have to try Balvenie again, and see what I think of it compared to what I've been drinking more recently.

I just remember in my early days as a Scotch drinker, not enjoying Balvenie ten very much.... To be honest, I remember having some Aberlour 10 and thinking "Ah, this is why people like Scotch." My tastes have certainly developed since then, but since there are so many to try, it's tough to go back to something one didn't fancy (certainly I won't buy Jura 12 again for that reason).
SasquatchMan
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:10 pm

Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 26, 2004 3:40 am

The official bottlings of Aberlour 10 and the Aberlour a'bunadh are very good example. The 10 year old is generally under valued in Canada and is a very good example of a Speyside. The a'bunadh is very heavily sherried and is bottled at cask strength, it benefits from the addition of water, experiment a liitle with the amounts of water and see what suits your taste.
Lawrence
Matured cask
 
Posts: 5019
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 1:01 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Postby islayjunkie » Tue Oct 26, 2004 6:27 am

Admiral wrote::roll: Not quite sure how Yamazaki qualifies as Scotch? :)


Ok, point taken.... however it does make for an interesting tasting :D
islayjunkie
Silver Member
 
Posts: 271
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 5:42 am
Location: California, USA

Postby bond » Tue Oct 26, 2004 6:27 am

If you are new to whisky, might be worthwhile to start with some of the blends. J W Black and Red are a good introduction.

In the case of malts, I would think Cardhu and Glenfiddich are very easy drinking malts. The Glenfiddich 18 YO in particular, offers some complexity whilst retaining the easy drinking quality of a glenfiddich.

Cragganmore? Would disagree that it is medium weighted. Think it calls for some experience before one can truly appreciate a Cragganmore in its entirety.

Cheers,

Bond
bond
Gold Member
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 1:29 pm
Location: New Delhi, India

Postby bamber » Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:21 am

I know you said you did not want peaty recommendations but personally I don't think middleweight speysides are the way to go if you want to fall in love with whisky. In fact I think the subtle qualities of many Speyside whiskies are hard to appreciate, when you first start out with SMS.

Usually its power players like Talisker, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Macallan or even HP that really grab people in my experience.

Take the plunge - get a bottle of Talisker 10YO.
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:33 am

Or Macallan 12 or Laphroaig 10.

Those bottlings are smoooooooooootttttttttttthhhh!!!!!!!! 8)
BruceCrichton
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1274
Joined: Mon May 07, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom

Postby bamber » Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:36 am

BruceCrichton wrote:Or Macallan 12 or Laphroaig 10.

Those bottlings are smoooooooooootttttttttttthhhh!!!!!!!! 8)


Damn right :)
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby Admiral » Tue Oct 26, 2004 12:54 pm

We're a strange lot, aren't we? :D

Recommending Laphroaig 10yo to a beginner!!!??!

That's a bit like recommending the 10m high diving platform to a bloke who's just learning to swim!! :lol: 8)

Cheers,
Admiral
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby bamber » Tue Oct 26, 2004 1:48 pm

Gotta take the plunge sometime :)
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Oct 26, 2004 5:33 pm

Admiral wrote:We're a strange lot, aren't we? :D

Recommending Laphroaig 10yo to a beginner!!!??!

That's a bit like recommending the 10m high diving platform to a bloke who's just learning to swim!! :lol: 8)

Cheers,
Admiral


Laphroaig is exceptionally smooth and I think it's lost a little of it's old attack in recent years. :(

Still a great dram though. 8)
BruceCrichton
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1274
Joined: Mon May 07, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom

Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:00 pm

As an aside you should consider two aspects, the glass and the addition of water, to add or not to add.

The glass is important to your enjoyment of the malt, flat sided tumblers are hopeless and the Glencairn glass is quite good. You can experiment with various glass types and the cost is minimal. Most thrift shops have a selection at very low prices, from approx. 60p to 90p per glass. Try brandy snifters of various sizes and even wine glasses of the tulip shape. At the very low cost per glass you can afford to experiment.

The addition of water (depending on quantity) will benefit most malts but not all. Generally whiskies that are matured or finished in various types of wines (port, sherry, Maderia etc) need the least or can handle the least water and those malts matured in new oak or bourbon can handle more water. Again it's a 'journey of discovery' if you'll forgive me for being new age.

Both the glass and the water (if, when & how much) are a matter of personal taste that can only be discovered by trial and error. The added bonus of over watering whisky is that you can simply add more whisky to even things out, a bigger dram is rarely a bad thing, :D

Lawrence
Lawrence
Matured cask
 
Posts: 5019
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 1:01 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Postby corzatrr » Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:04 pm

Thank you all for the great tips. I'll have to resist buying all the recomended scotch. Great forum!
corzatrr
New member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2004 4:37 pm

Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:18 pm

Lawrence is right.

If you can get either the Glencairn 'Snifter' glass or the Tulip glass that a Malt Master uses then you are doing well and these glasses will improve your dram immeasurably compared to a tumbler.
BruceCrichton
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1274
Joined: Mon May 07, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom

Postby SasquatchMan » Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:38 pm

Immeasurably? Come on. Jack Daniel still tastes best straight from the bottle.
SasquatchMan
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:10 pm

Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:05 am

Sure, but does it smell best straight from the bottle? :D 8)
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby SasquatchMan » Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:51 pm

Admiral, I did smell Jack Daniel's once, and I couldn't smell anything at all for about 6 months after that. Safer just to swig and swallow! :D
SasquatchMan
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:10 pm

Postby Frodo » Thu Oct 28, 2004 3:08 pm

Actually, the few times I've sniffed the regular JD bottling, I couldn't come up with anything other than "medicinal". Certainly not anything strong.
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby bamber » Thu Oct 28, 2004 3:10 pm

JD smells like JD. I rather like it :oops:
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby bond » Thu Oct 28, 2004 4:06 pm

Frodo wrote:Actually, the few times I've sniffed the regular JD bottling, I couldn't come up with anything other than "medicinal". Certainly not anything strong.


IMHO, there is a certain sourness to the medicinal nose.
bond
Gold Member
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 1:29 pm
Location: New Delhi, India

Postby SasquatchMan » Sat Oct 30, 2004 2:47 am

Bamber, no need to blush. I like it too. Anyone seriously nosing JD should come up with the initial sour-corn kind of smell, liked to cauliflower on a posting about Jim beam. This is followed by the medicinal/alcohol notes, and past them, you get a hint of the spice which comes through on the palate.

I will probably be shunned around here, but I think Jack Danieal Old 7 is fabulous whiskey. I don't care if it's not bourbon. I'd be real pleased with myself if I could brew up a whiskey that tasted that good, and was loved by as many folk as do love JD. And the thing is, the people who love, they don't even want to talk about it. You try telling a 300 lb biker that Jack Daniel isn't very good. You'll get a new face for your effort.

They have great advertising, great look, and great product.
SasquatchMan
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:10 pm

Postby Admiral » Sat Oct 30, 2004 5:12 am

Jack Daniels probably suffers a similar legacy to that of Glenlivet or Glenfiddich.

Because it's so widely available, so mass-made, and so familiar, it is easy to scoff at, or assume that it mustn't be any good.

Truth is, Glenfiddich (12yo) is a very drinkable malt, Glenlivet is a beautiful Speysider, and Jack Daniels No. 7 is a pretty drinkable American whiskey.

Sure, none of these drinks are particularly challenging, but if they were, then they would hold a very different place in the market. Don't forget the origins of Glenfiddich - they launched their malt at a time when people were only drinking blends. They had to ensure their product was similarly light, pleasant, and not too challenging, or it would never have attracted the blend drinkers.

Jack Daniels competes directly with Jim Beam - from my understanding, U.S.A. whiskey drinkers affiliate themselves in one camp or the other. Neither drink can afford to become too outrageous or challenging, or they will lose their market share.

Cheers,
Admiral
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby bond » Sat Oct 30, 2004 7:16 am

Jack Daniels is rather drinkable. Since I have not had other american whiskies, I am not in a position to compare. Jim Beam Black Label is the only other american whiskey I have tried and I would rate them at par.

Jack Daniels was launched in India a few years ago. Surpisingly, they aggressively encouraged mixing it with Coke, even offering promotional glasses etc .

I found it rather strange that a whisky maker would ENCOURAGE folks to mix coke with it. Is this a standard entry strategy they follow so as to get people used to the different taste?

Or is it Jack Daniel marketing worldwide?

Cheers
bond
Gold Member
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 1:29 pm
Location: New Delhi, India

Postby Frodo » Wed Nov 03, 2004 8:31 pm

Just an observation Bond, but I have found most house blends taste much better when mixed. With as much mixer as possible to hide the taste of poorly-made whisky. It gets you drunk and that's what a lot of people drink it for. Some die-hards who like the taste are the exeption rather than the norm.

My observation on "badly made whisky" is not meant as an indictment of JD whisky. Gentlemen Jack is almost drinkable, and the single-barrel version is interesting - not what I'd buy but not bad either. Most house blend whisky -to me- is by definition, badly made whisky. Therefore it needs to be mixed to make it palatable to the consumer.

Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby SasquatchMan » Thu Nov 04, 2004 2:59 am

Wasn't Maker's Mark's motto somthing like "Rather than make a lot and keep the best, we make a little and have it all come out just right."?
SasquatchMan
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:10 pm

Postby Admiral » Thu Nov 04, 2004 3:35 am

Frodo,

IMHO methinks you're being a bit harsh on the so-called "house blends".

I guess to most of us here, the entry-level whiskies like Jim Beam (White Label), Jack Daniels, Canadian Club, Ballantines, Bells, etc, etc, are a bit dull on the palate. But I doubt very much that their producers make the spirit with a view to it needing to be mixed to make it palatable!

The reality is that the vast majority of people find straight whisky too strong or unpleasant, but they don't mind it when mixed. I know a few people who happily shell out for better quality whiskies, (JW Black, even a few single malts) and still mix it with coke because that's how they enjoy their whisky.

But I doubt very much that the master blenders concoct their recipes and then add coke & other mixers to find out if they've hit the winning formula!! :)

I guess at the end of the day, one man's poorly made whisky is another man's elixir.

Cheers,
Admiral
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Next

Return to Whisky Tastings

Whisky gift and present finder