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Scotch Newbie

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Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:19 am

I'm new to Scotch. My Scotch-Irish heritage requires that I drink it.
I need some guidance (without spending a fortune finding out . .. maybe some samplers).

I sampled the Dewars 12, a Dewars w/honey, and the Johnnie Walker Black. Didn't care for either Dewars but REALLY ENJOYED the Johnnie Walker. Boy was I glad. It was very smooth and tasty, just a pleasure to drink.

Now I am on to other brands. Just bought a Speyside scotch called 'Speyburn 10 Year'. It gets really good reviews from nearly everyone, especially for the price. I liked it okay but thought it a little sweet.

Knowing that I liked the Johnnie Walker, what would anyone recommend if I wanted a little heavier (peaty?), maybe smoky flavor, without the medicinal taste? I drink espresso coffee, dark beer (porter, stout). What's the scotch equivalent . . . with good taste that is?

I'm open to suggestions.

From a wannabe scotch lover.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby Ganga » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:07 pm

As I recall the base malt whisky for JW Black is Caol Ila. Their 12 yo might be a good starting point. JW Red has a base malt whisky of Talisker. Talisker 10 yo would be a good starting point.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:34 am

Thanks Ganga,

I think I recall someone recommending Talisker to me before.
Can you describe the taste to me?
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:57 pm

Before getting to your last post, I was thinking of recommending Talisker 10yo (Caol Ila 12yo is also a great intro bottle).

Talisker is a unique animal: citrus, minerals, smoke and pepper. It has remained remarkably consistent throughout the years with its tear-inducing long peppery finish, which should give you a nice endorphin rush for the price.

Caol Ila has more of a gentle smokey maritime olive oil thing going on. Also quite unique. If you like that, see how it compares with its much burlier cousin, Lagavulin.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:09 am

peergynt323 wrote:Before getting to your last post, I was thinking of recommending Talisker 10yo (Caol Ila 12yo is also a great intro bottle).

Talisker is a unique animal: citrus, minerals, smoke and pepper. It has remained remarkably consistent throughout the years with its tear-inducing long peppery finish, which should give you a nice endorphin rush for the price.

Caol Ila has more of a gentle smokey maritime olive oil thing going on. Also quite unique. If you like that, see how it compares with its much burlier cousin, Lagavulin.


peergynt? I've seen that name on another forum somewhere . . . perhaps cigars?

Anyway, thanks for responding. Talisker keeps coming up. Believe I'll definitely have to try it. Also the Caol Ila , being one of the blends of JW Black, sounds good. Your description of it was very intriguing; especially about endorphins (are you a runner?, I am).
Thanks again for the input. I know I'll get many opinions but thought I would pool them all and see which ones have a good following.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:32 am

Yes, I am also on cigar-review.org and cigar geeks.

My wife is a die hard runner. I am more of a sports guy myself.

I envy you for being at the first stages of your foray in the world of SMSW. Those were some very exciting times for me with something new and different around every turn. Enjoy! :thumbsup:
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:14 pm

I put this post on another forum, so excuse me if you read it there. But I am enjoying the input I'm receiving . . and digesting it.

I ordered some 50ml samples online.
While waiting, I went to a local ABC store to get my wife some tequila for her margarita fix.
They only had a few (Dewars, Chivas Regal, JW Red . . . which I haven't tried, so I got one ) and then they had
Macallan 12 year (the sampler price being three times more than the rest). Bought the Macallan . . .
brought it home, a few hours later got out a gorgeous Dominican Figurado cigar, poured the Macallan in a nice tulip shaped glass, sat on my back patio and . . . .

My O, My! The color was gorgeous. The nose just so savoury . . . vanilla, maple . . . and the taste . . . I thought was
absolutely delicious.

I thought, now I'm getting somewhere. This is rich and delectable. If this is Scotch, I love it.
Now I know why some have recommended Sherry matured scotch.

Don't know what the general consensus is about the Macallan 12, but I just know I really like it.
Now, I can't wait to try some other 'similar' tastes.

For those of you who know this whisky, would you say it had any peatiness or smokiness in it. I couldn't detect smoke, if its what I am use to in other drinks. Based on my taste for this, what could I try next, with a hint of peat (sherry casked)?
What about the others Macallan offers?

At any rate . .. I thought this was a marvelous Scotch and makes me want to experiment even more.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby Ganga » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:52 pm

Sherry...mmmmm.

Highland Park 12 - not as rich sherry but has just a touch of smoke. I describe it as heathery honey with whispy smoke.

Aberlour a'bunadh - big brash cask strength sherry. You won't find peat/smoke here. This is Christmas cake. Look for notes of cinnamon, oranges, cider, caramel.

Springbank 12 CS - I got notes of tomatoes, cinnamon, caramel with just a touch of smokiness.

Glenfarclas 10/12 - the one thing I can tell you is that these have changed through the years. Ranged from nutty with nougat to very herbal. I have liked both versions; they are just different.

I recommend a Macallan 18 sample if you can find one. :thumbsup:
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:50 am

Just tried the JW red tonight as well as Chivas Regal 12. Wasn't impressed with
the Chivas . . . nothing intriguing about it. But the JW red . . ..
I just cannot put my finger (tongue) on what I'm tasting. Maybe this is some smoke or peat that everyone is talking about. It almost has a tobacco flavor to me (thought I've never heard anyone describe it like that). Is it peat I'm tasting (not knowing what peat tastes like)?
It's very unique, though I'm not sure it is something I would buy a whole bottle of.
Still experimenting . . .
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:02 am

To me, whisky that tastes of peat is like wine that tastes like grapes -- not very exciting. Finlaggan is the first that comes to mind. Ardmore takes on a much peatier character than its Islay cousins. My favorite "peaty" whisky though is definitely Port Charlotte which has a great deal of organic peat smoke to accompany the flowery tropical fruit Bruichladdich character.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:39 pm

Would you say that JW red had a bit of peat taste in it?
Continuing my journey .. . After all I've read here and there . ..
decided to buy a bottle of something Sherry matured.
I certainly loved the Macallan 12. Then heard various ones mention Highland Park 12. Then there was The Balvenie Doublewood 12 (notice I'm sticking to 12 yo, only because of the price right now). I decided on the Highland Park.
Paid a little over $50.00.
Good choice. Several said it had a little more character and depth than the Balvenie. And some liked it better than the Macallan for the same reason.
I'm not disappointed. Although I must say it is quite different than the Macallan.
The Macallan is sweeter. I certainly taste smoke in the HP, but it must be peat also that I am tasting. Not knowing for sure, but it is a flavor I haven't encountered in my bourbon forays. I like it.
Going to take some tastes tonight at local pub. The Caol Ila sounds interesting.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:02 am

Scotchirish:

On a side note, if in your browsing of various liquor outlets, you should come across a bottle of Balvenie Founders Reserve 10 yo, grab it. It was discontinued a number of years ago when the new Asian markets were opening up.

I found one in Winnipeg a year or two ago and snaffled it for my tickle trunk. (A place where rare bottles go to live until a second bottle is found, at which point one gets opened and enjoyed)

Otherwise it sounds like your journey of discovery is continuing apace and that you are going about things in an intelligent manner. Enjoy the whisky journey which will last your lifetime.

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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:05 pm

Muskrat Portage . . . interesting username.
I'm enjoying all the input received. Scotch is certainly a passion for many and seems
about to be one with me.
I will certainly keep an eye out for the Balvenie Founders Reserve 10 yo.
I was able to try the The Balvenie Doublewood 12 & Glenmorangie The Original 12 last night. Was disappointed in the glass they served both in . . . should have been more specific. Having read that the Balvenie Doublewood was somewhat similar to Macallan 12 (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I didn't find it to be so at all. Not nearly as dark or sherried, but was okay . .. not thrilled. Nor was I taken with the Glenmorangie (although I liked it better than the BD). So far in my limited experience, the Macallan 12, Highland Park 12, & Johnnie Walker Black have stood out to me. Where to from here? . . .
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby The Third Dram » Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:15 pm

scotchirish wrote:So far in my limited experience, the Macallan 12, Highland Park 12, & Johnnie Walker Black have stood out to me. Where to from here?

scotchirish... My recommendation would be to check out BenRiach and GlenDronach. Billy Walker and his team have done wonders to bring these two Highland distilleries back to producing high quality whiskies (from prior years of relative neglect under the Seagram and Allied Domecq regimes, respectively).

BenRiach has, of late, pioneered the resurgence of heavily peated Highland malts. These whiskies display a peatiness/smokiness quite distinct from that of most Islay/island offerings - think more bacon-like, animal-like, leather-like than medicinal, and you won't be far off the mark. The 10-year old Curiositas (make sure it's the 46%ABV version) is a veritable bargain. And the 17-year old Septendecim (though more expensive) is even better - loads of refinement and complexity to go along with the peat! There are also numerous cask-finished editions well worth checking out.

As for GlenDronach, the 15-year old Revival strikes me as the best bang-for-buck offering in the lineup - very sherried and very nice. At a severe price premium, the 21-year old Parliament is spectacularly sumptuous. Many also rave about the limited edition releases from the distillery.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:14 pm

[quote="The Third Dram"][quote= My recommendation would be to check out BenRiach and GlenDronach.

They both sound very interesting . . . especially the GlenDronach.
When you say "severe price premium", how severe?

Since I am not a man of great means, I cannot afford to buy whole bottles that I might not like. Wish I could collect them all just for the sake of it. I may go with a large 'sampler' order with Masters of Malt one of these days, though the shipping costs more than the whisky.

I often hear the term 'maritime' used with some scotch. I'm assuming that means salty in taste and perhaps wild and bracing in the nose. Am I close?
I would love to taste something of that order.

At the present, I am glad for the first two full bottle acquisitions I have made . . . Macallans 12 and Highland Park12. Both were a very good choice (though a blind one to me). This is why I continue to ask opinions though I know I will get many varied ones.

So glad 'Ganga' recommended the Highland Park.

Still searching (though glad for what I've found) . . .
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby Muskrat Portage » Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:27 pm

ScotchIrish:
The town I live in was called Muskrat Portage until 1904, hence my Nom de Plume. This name initially was based on the First Nations name for the area "Washushk Onigum" or "Portage to the country of the Muskrats". It was shortened to Rat Portage in due time.

If you are interested in seeing what others have thought of various single malts (short form: SM) take a gander in the live tastings thread. People posted their taste and nosing notes for general reference and you might find something there to pique your interest.

Feel free to send private messages (PM) through your whisky magazine profile or by clicking on the PM button on that persons' posting. Most of us are here to help out in any small way that we can. You can't go wrong with heeding Ganga or the other responders on this thread. They are all well thought of and highly reguarded (Canadian spelling), especially by myself.

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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:01 am

As an Orange County native who grew up with the beach as a backdrop, I also love maritime whiskies. The ones (current bottlings) that give me the greatest sensation of the sea are listed here:

Springbank 10yo
Lagavulin 16yo
Talisker 18yo
Clynelish 14yo (as well as just about any young independent bottling of Clynelish -- they rarely disappoint and are typically better than the 14yo imo)
Bunnahabhain (just about any expression)
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:15 pm

peergynt323 wrote:As an Orange County native who grew up with the beach as a backdrop, I also love maritime whiskies. The ones (current bottlings) that give me the greatest sensation of the sea are listed here:

Lagavulin 16yo
Talisker 18yo


The Lagavulin 16yo (after looking it up) sounds intriguing.
Is the Talisker a bit more on the wild side?
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby richard » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:17 pm

i must admit i am not a big fan of the lagavulin as its heavily peated but if its your sytle you will really like it
the talisker 18 is to me sublime and i am big speyside fan its like somebody took the 10 year old talisker which is good and made the 18 better :D its that good
best of luck

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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby Ganga » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:47 pm

Maritime to me means an aroma or taste that reminds me of the sea/beach. One that reminds me clearly of the sea is Old Pulteney. For me, this is like breathing in fresh sea air which is more than salt. Some of the big south shore Islays actually remind me more of a fishing village (seaweed, slightly fishy, diesel).

Musky gave you great advice. Check out the Live Tastings threads. Many of these were designed around specific distilleries like Aberlour, Talisker, and Glenlivet.

I have seen more sample bottles showing up in the stores around Los Angeles. You might check with a local dealer to see what might be available. Also, consider making a purchase at Xmas as a lot of times a sample of older or different style from the distillery is included. Example, Glenlivet 12 bottle with a sample of Glenlivet 18.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:51 pm

scotchirish wrote:
Is the Talisker a bit more on the wild side?


No, quite the opposite. For the young palate, Lagavulin 16yo among the wildest of experiences.

The Talisker 18yo is just plain delicious.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:48 pm

I'm definitely ready to try the Islays.
The two that keep coming up often are:
Lagavulin 16yo
Ardbeg Uigeadail.
Having a 'young palate', would the Ardbeg (with its sherry) be a better introduction to Islay for me?
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:56 am

Lagavulin 16yo is heavily sherried. I don't believe that Ardbeg Ugeadail has as much sherry influence in it as it used to back in 2003-2004. Ardbeg stopped filling sherry casks for a long period during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Either way, they are both good, but I would stick to <50% ABV for now and dilute anything that is cask strength. It's easy to get palate fatigue when you are doing a lot of tasting of high strength whiskies.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:37 am

The Lagaluvin costs $99 USD
The Ardbeg Uigeadail costs $52 USD

Sounds like a no brainer for me (for my first Islay).
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Thu Jul 17, 2014 11:10 am

Well, if price to quality ratio is your primary consideration, then Laphroaig 10yo, Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Bowmore 12yo, and Caol Ila 12yo are all superior to the Uigeadail.

Ardbeg has a large and passionate following, but it's not entirely justified. Their recent standard bottlings have all been pretty mediocre. Try to find an old Renaissance or Airigh Nam Beist if you must have Ardbeg, but you will definitely pay to experience it.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:25 pm

Of the four you mentioned, which ones are sherried?
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby Ganga » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:55 pm

Laga 16 used to be sherried. Somewhere around 2009 this practice was discontinued. I know that the Uigidael was also vatted bourbon and sherry casks. I don't believe this holds true anymore. Since the bottles from about 2011, I have found the Uigie to be much more smoky than in the past and a fair bit less sweet.

I don't know iif any of the four menitioned by Peer are matured/finished/vatted from sherry casks. Ex-sherry casks are becoming harder to get. The QC might be your best bet at getting something a little sweeter as it is matured in a quarter cask which gives it more sweetness.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Thu Jul 17, 2014 11:58 pm

Interesting about Lagavulin not being sherried any more. Do they at least put some sherry butts in the blend?

Islays with a good amount of sherry influence are hard to come by, and 100% sherry Islays are even harder to find. If you come across the Kilchoman that is 100% sherry, pick it up for sure. It is delicious and complex.

Sherried whisky can be a minefield if you are like me and dislike the burnt match smell and taste. It pops up randomly and without warning. Makes it hard for me to finish a bottle. All of the really good sherry-matured (not just finished) Islays are few and far between and cost a fortune nowadays.

As Ganga said, Laphroaig QC is very fruity indeed without any sherry influence. In my opinion, anything that Laphroaig makes that doesn't have the number 10 on it is downright approachable and delicious. Of course, I also love the medicinal ones, but I don't think newbies should fear Laphroaig.

The newest Bowmore 12yo bottling is a real superstar value in my mind. I drink it more often than any other Islay.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:36 am

peergynt323 wrote:Islays with a good amount of sherry influence are hard to come by, and 100% sherry Islays are even harder to find. If you come across the Kilchoman that is 100% sherry, pick it up for sure. It is delicious and complex. . . .

The newest Bowmore 12yo bottling is a real superstar value in my mind. I drink it more often than any other Islay.


I started this post as a "Scotch Newbie" . . . still am, but am gleaning from many of you who have been drinking this wonderful whisky for years. I have been literally soaking in the scotch and the information (lol). Appreciate your patience.

At every opportunity I try something new. For instance, tonight, a little local restaurant only had 2 brands of scotch behind the bar; Dewars (I've had) and Glinfiddich 10. I tried it and wasn't greatly impressed.

I wish I were able to try more, but there just aren't that many offerings in my area.
That is why I keep asking you guys. And, as you know, it isn't cheap.

I absolutely love everything about the Highland Park 12. With my inexperienced palate, I'm still not sure what it is that I love about it. There is definitely some smoke. . . and the sherry. . . but I'm still unsure if I taste peat.
As said previously, my tastes in other drinks (coffee, beer, wine) run on the dark and bitter side. I bought a bottle of Speyburn 10; then Macallans 12; JW Black . .. then Highland Park 12. Many have said that they were HP drinkers and went on to the Islays and loved them . . . such as Lagavulin 16 or Caol Ila.
I don't have the options of trying these, that is why I keep asking.
So . . . just moving up a step . . . from the HP . . . to the Islays . . . with real peat . .. but some sherry which I love . . . do I go for the Laga, the Caol Ila, Talisker Bowmore 12 or what?
(sitting right now on my patio with a dram of HP and a brilliant Domincan cigar and loving every minute of it . . . but ready for bigger things.)
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby Ganga » Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:50 am

I don't think you need to worry about whether it is sherry or not. You really want to find out about strong peat, try Ardbeg 10 or Uigiedael or Laga 16. Do you ever get to Pennsylvania? There State stores have/had Laphroaig 18 at a decent price...at least better than what you say for Laga 16. I found Laphroaig 10 CS for a decent price last year in DC.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby peergynt323 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:46 pm

Wine searcher is telling me that Virginia is indeed a restrictive state when it comes to single malt availability.

Sounds like you need to make a whisky excursion. :thumbsup: I am sure that all of us on the forum have driven long distances to satisfy their epicurean needs.

Maybe there is a good whisky bar with an extensive collection in a nearby state that you could visit? You could try a dram of every major expression in one night if your tolerance is up to it. DC would probably be a good starting place to look for a solid whisky bar.
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Sat Jul 19, 2014 4:45 am

Visited a few bars tonight, looking for some Islays . . . no success.
To drive a few hours out of state is not an option at this point.
I have decided to order some samples from Master of Malt.
Here are my choices (all Islay).
Ardbeg Uigeadail
Caol Ila 12 yr
Lagavulin 16 Year Old
Bowmore 12
Talisker 10.

Good choices don't you think? Look forward to trying them all.
By the way, tried the Balvanie Doublewood 17 tonight and it was very good indeed. :thumbsup:
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Re: Scotch Newbie

Postby scotchirish » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:51 am

Correct that . . . Talisker is from the Isle of Skye, not Islay.
I assumed it was because of its reputation for peat and smoke.
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