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My First Single Malt Scotch

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My First Single Malt Scotch

Postby clicker7 » Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:42 pm

Hi All:
I am about to purchase my first single malt scotch. I want my first purchase and first taste to be a special experience-- so I want to buy something I will truly enjoy-- I need some help with my choice!

When I was younger (I am now 60!), my Whiskey experiences were no that pleasant, as I always remember my drinks as very strong, bitter, and burning to the throat (Rye and Scotch blends). The last 40 years I have enjoyed wines, especially ports, and my favorites are 10-20 year olds on the tawny side. I like the flavors of oak and caramel.

I am intrigued by the complexity of choices of single malts (having been reading the forum, and browsing Michael Jackson's Book).

I think I would like Scotchs that are smooth, and sweet; definitely not harsh or hot/burning types.

From reading the forum I am thinking on making my first purchase one of these four:

Highland Park 12
Macallan 12
Glenmorangie Port Wood
Balvenie 12 Doublewood.

Which one would I prefer if I'm looking for smooth, mellow, sweet, etc. Please any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to All.
Joseph
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:55 pm

I think any of those would be a good start. (I assume that first is meant to be Highland Park.) As you like port, I think you might enjoy a relatively heavily sherried or port-influenced dram, and I think the Macallan is your best bet there. The Balvenie 12 will have some of that influence, but I think it is quite a bit lighter. I can't give an opinion on the Glenmorangie, but someone here will. Balvenie also has a 21-year-old PortWood that I think would interest you, but at a significantly higher price.

Whatever you buy, if you find it a bit harsh or strong, experiment with a bit of water. I hardly ever use water any more, but found it indispensable when starting out. It takes a while for the palate to get used to drinking spirits straight.

Good luck! If all goes well, you will soon be helplessly sucked into the vortex of single malt whisky with the rest of us. Insanity loves company! Happy dramming.
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Postby Nock » Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:38 pm

Joseph

I was a huge port fan for several years (in particular the vintage ports and LBVs).

I got turned on to scotch through a bottle of Glenmorangie 10 year old. It was my favorite for years until I tried the Highland Park 12yo.

During my Glenmorangie days I went through all the common expressions. And while the Port Wood finish was a favorite for a while I don't think it will be your best introduction to single malt scotch. I find it more rough, full bodied and at times more bitter then the 10yo. And while Macallan was great back in the day I don't think what you are going to pull of the shelf today is right for the beginner (just my opinion which I am sure others will disagree with :wink: )

I would say your best bet is either
Glenmorangie 10yo (more citrus)
or
Highland Park 12yo (honey and light peat)


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Postby Bob & Jill » Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:24 am

Joseph, You have a great choice list. I would strongly recommend three of them (in any order) and put Macallan last. Just my personal preference but I never got anything special out of Macallan 12. It’s a fine malt, but it never made me say “wow” and the others did.

When I tried Glenmorangie Port Wood, I thought it was the most drinkable scotch I had ever tasted--light and fruity. And the Balvenie 12 DW is right up there with it. I still think my favorite though, is Highland Park 12. Since it is 5:30 pm, I think I need to go upstairs first before I send this to make a comparison between all three to make sure I give an accurate assessment.

When you try your first malt be sure to have an nice light round glass you can swirl the whisky in. And it’s a good idea to warm the glass (thanks Mr.T) in hot water right before you pour, so the whisky will be warm and give off a more pronounced nose---a good part of the tasting is in the nose.

Report: The 3 are all equally very drinkable and smooth. And when you start comparing them, they become more similar after each taste. I agree with Nock, the HP 12 does stand out with more honey than the others.
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Postby Lee » Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:55 am

Hello Joseph,

The first single malt that I was advised to get (6-7 years ago) was Aberlour 10yr. Nice and smooth -- still like it today! Not too expensive either, which reminds me, I need another bottle. Can't go wrong with the Glenmorangie 10yr old either. Good luck!

Lee
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Postby clicker7 » Tue Jan 17, 2006 10:24 am

Thanks everyone, and thanks Mr. T., and Jill for the tip on the warm glass.

It seems the consensus favors Highland Park 12 for my first single malt venture. I'm also tempted by the Glenmorangie / Port Wood(as I like port so much) , and will make this my second tasting.

Any special glasses you folks recommend to enhance the experience?

Thanks again,
Joseph
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Postby bamber » Tue Jan 17, 2006 10:33 am

I'd rank those:

HP
Macallan
Glenmorangie
Balvenie

If you'd picked the Balvenie 10, I'd probably have gone for that as top. The Doublewood is not my thing.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 17, 2006 12:55 pm

If smooth, mellow and sweet are the requirements, you could do a lot worse than Tullibardine 1993.
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Postby jimidrammer » Tue Jan 17, 2006 3:34 pm

The Glencairn glass has quickly become the standard Single Malt glass. They are reasonably priced or sometimes free. I have a bunch with Glenmorangie etched on them. There should still be some Holiday gift packs around with 1 or 2 included. Ebay has a lot at higher prices if you want a specific Distillery labeling. They are the best size and shape for the money, but the Ardbeg/Glenmorangie stemmed tulip glass with lid is great, too.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 17, 2006 3:53 pm

Do a site search for "favorite glass", clicker, and you'll find much to chew on. I like a good-size snifter to accumulate aroma, with Glencairns my second choice. Most likely whatever you've been using for port will do.
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Postby Aidan » Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:05 pm

Maybe an unpeated scotch would be the best bet for your first single malt scotch? I don't know, of course, but it might be an easier, smoother introduction.
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Postby clicker7 » Tue Jan 17, 2006 10:23 pm

Another question to all:

Regarding flavor-- Should I let the bottle breathe a while when I first open it? I've read lots of posts inferring the bottle tasted better after it was opened and had been around for a while.

Also, after pouring -- does it improve flavor to let the glass sit a few minutes before tasting (if I can wait patiently)?

I will definitely use a heated glass!

thanks,
Joseph
Last edited by clicker7 on Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby parvus » Tue Jan 17, 2006 10:35 pm

Don't heat the glass in the microwave, do it by hand. I assume you don't have a proper tasting glass, yes? If you have access to a brandy snifter/sherry copiter, use that until you get yourself a proper tasting glass. If you only have a tumbler, don't expect the nose of the whisky to be anything spectacular.

I tend to leave my whisky in its glass for 20-30 minutes before consuming it, and it definately improves the flavour and nose of the malt.

Remember, take it slow. It isn't a race, take your time and enjoy.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:38 pm

Breathing in the glass is fine, if you think it will do the dram some good (and many here do). But don't leave the bottle open for any great length of time. I think most of what people describe as whisky going bad is due to evaporation of alcohol and perhaps other volatile substances. Some whiskies do improve after opening, and likely there are bad things floating off (and bonking angels on the head), but I don't think it pays to rush it.

Remember, when you let a wine breathe, you are going to consume it all in fairly short order. Think the same with whisky--keep it to the glass you're about to consume.
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Postby clicker7 » Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:19 am

well everyone:

I went to buy my first bottle of Highland Park 12 but the state run liquor store in Washington St. did not carry HP 12, I was a little disappointed.

They did have a lovely bottle of Balvenie 12 Double Wood (also on my list) so I picked that up. It looks great, pretty color (kinda honeyish), also liked the shape of the bottle and label.

I just heated a glass and poured myself about an ounce.

The nose is wonderful...I just sat and smelled it for a few minutes and enjoyed it. Very mellow... as I sip it -- the nose is sweetish, a little vanilla, and a little citrus or orangey ( this is my first tasting of S. M. Scotch).

The taste to me is Medium Sweet, Vanilla, Citrus, Sherry, and spicey, and very smooth ( that's the best I can make out having little experience). The finish is warm, and a little vanilla or sweet. Nice smooth long finish.

I almost like the Nose the best, but it does taste very good, and finishes nice (warm and sweet) .

I just tried a little with a teaspoon of water, and don't care for it as much.... I really like the flavor straight/neat--I think it taste much better without water!

I just poured my second dram, feeling nice and warm..... I better have some dinner and finish after dinner.

Very pleasant drink-- Really has a long sweet finish to it too!

What do you guys think of the Balvenie DW?

If anyone has any other advice for tasting/drinking please holler.

Thanks for your time everyone,
Joseph
Last edited by clicker7 on Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mr Ellen » Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:57 am

Why heat the glass when all you need to do is to turn on the stove??

:lol:

Image

Cheers
__________
Anders
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Postby jimidrammer » Wed Jan 18, 2006 2:34 pm

Clicker7, congrats on your intro to SMSW, you picked a nice one to start and it sounds like you got it right on the nose (so to speak). The Balvenie DW is great, some days I like it better than others, and the whole Balvenie line is of faultless quality, especially the 15yo Single Barrel and 21yo Portwood, if your looking in that direction. The best bang-for-your-buck in the Highland Park range is the 18yo, if you can order it somewhere. I find some malts improve with age up to a point and some just get way too expensive, so I try to weigh the cost/taste ratio to my budget. Enjoy the journey and let us know where you go from here. Alot of us have been through all the basics and like to stick our noses in and give advice. :wink:
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Postby lexvo » Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:08 pm

Joseph, glad that it worked out for you so great. Balvanie DW was my first single malt Scotch too and it is still one of my favourites.
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Balvenie DW vs. GLenmorangie Port Wood

Postby clicker7 » Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:14 am

Thanks everyone for your replies:

I enjoyed the Balvenie 12 DW so much last evening, I went out and bought Glenmorangie 12 Port Wood Finish.

I poured a dram of each in a warmed glass.

After spending a good deal of time with both I believe I like the Balvenie DW better.

Balvenie DW seems more complex, and smoother (Orangey/ Citrus, vanilla, etc.), and seems to have a longer sweeter finish ; The Glenmorangie although very nice and interesting tastes more harsh, and more like a Sherrry-- although it seems to have a shorter finish, biut also sweet.

Right now I'm favoring the Balvenie DW, for me it was a more mellow taste, and complex taste, and the Glemorangie tasted harsher, drier, and more sherry..

Just wondering how others feel about these two SM.

Also, wondering how I would like the Macallan 12, and or Balvenie Portwood 21.

Thanks All,

Joseph
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Postby parvus » Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:27 am

How warm exactly are you making your glass? And what type of glass?
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Postby clicker7 » Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:57 pm

Parvus:

I'm running hot/warm water in the glass for about 30 seconds till it feels warm to me.... then I dry it thoroughly, and pour a dram.

Joseph
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Postby Bob & Jill » Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:21 am

Joseph, in answer to your question: “Any special glasses you folks recommend to enhance the experience?”:

I like the stemless Reidel Tyrol crystal glass. I like to wrap my hand around the glass while it’s on the table. I get the uneasy feeling the glass is teetering when it’s on a long stem. Bob likes a stem and he uses the German Spiegelau tulip shaped glass. I like a light-weight thin crystal glass. I find heavy thick glasses uncomfortable and a barrier between myself and my drink.

We both tend to agree with you on the Balvine 12 DW being slightly smother than the Glenmorangie 12. They are both great though.
Jill
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Hey Jill!

Postby clicker7 » Sun Jan 22, 2006 4:46 am

Thanks Jill:

I went out and found a Riedel Sommelier Single Malt Scotch Glass (see photo). It's got a nice feel to it, and the delivers a nice bouquet. I attached a link with a photo. Is this the same glass your using?

http://www.wineenthusiast.com//E/details.asp?Ep=An/0//A/704&uid=0D8B7170-789E-45EA-8F8E-C9230F170FE8&AfID=TRFL2

By the way I picked up a bottle of Macallan 15 Fine Oak. Only one store in the state had it. I'm enjoying it in my new glass. Wonderful nose (Orange, Vanilla, Honey, Oak , and Little Smoky-- really is a lovely bouquet). Palate is very smooth, honey, oaky, and finish is sweet, very pleasant, a little short though.

It's delicious I like it very much. The Balvenie DW though is also delicious and has a longer finish. The Macallan 15 has a bit more body. I can see why you need several bottles or a good collection as they all are so different and all offer something to the taste buds.

I also got a bottle of Cragganmore 12 that I will try tomorrow night; I was anxious to try the Macallan.

Cheers,

Joseph[/url][/i]
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Postby Bob & Jill » Sun Jan 22, 2006 8:32 am

Joseph,
No I have not seen this style of Riedel glass. It is a very interesting design (without a long stem) and looks like it would make a great whisky tasting glass, though it’s a bit pricy at $44. I’d hate to break it. I went back to the main Stemware section of the site and found the Riedel glass I was referring to. They call it Riedel 'O' Sauvignon Blanc/Riesling Stemless Wine Glass and I paid $12.50 for it at our local liquor store. I see they are $7.50 on this site.
The photo is at:
http://www.wineenthusiast.com/E/results ... 230F170FE8
I guess I am drinking whisky out of the wrong type of glass, yet it is enjoyable nevertheless.
Jill

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Postby clicker7 » Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:13 am

Jill:

I paid $20 at a small local wine merchant. He had a bunch of Port glasses also. This was their single malt glass. It is really nice to drink out of as it encourages the bouquet, and has a comfortable feel to it. Williams Sonoma had it for $22.

I like your glass also-- A couple of others on that page look good too. I am sure your Single Malts taste and nose terrifically in them!! I think Riedel makes nice stuff.

I think the Malts are not half as fussy as we are!

Joseph
Last edited by clicker7 on Sun Jan 22, 2006 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby bernstein » Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:46 pm

clicker7 wrote:I think the Malts are not as half as fussy as we are!

There's certainly some truth in that! :D
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