Who Doesn’t Drink Scotch?

Laphraoig 17Phillip here. My thoughts on single-malt scotch, which I don’t really drink anymore

J&B is to scotch what a Big Mac is to fine dining. I suspect most people who drink J&B do it to get drunk, and quickly so as to put themselves out of their misery from drinking the stuff in the first place. But if that’s what tastes good to you, and you enjoy it, then fill your boots. It all comes down to what you like, and what tastes good to you might go down like Buckley’s Mixture to someone else. The easiest thing to do is try a bit of everything, scotches from all the regions, and then focus in more of whichever region has the most interesting flavour or sensation. Explore.

Like most people who know nothing about single-malt scotch, I tried Glenlivet. I didn’t know how to drink it, so I drank it as a quick shot, straight down, which was warm but never burned. Later on I tried the next most-available (i.e., cheap) single-malt, Glenfiddich, which, although not awful, isn’t as good as Glenlivet, and is the last single-malt I would choose to drink.

Lagavulin was the first real single-malt I had, and as soon as I opened the bottle, and the aroma of peat filled the room, I knew I was dealing with something completely different. I’ve never gotten over that experience. I instantly fell in love with the smoky, earthy sensation and flavour of the Islay scotches (which are strong with peat), and they’ve been my favorites ever since.

One of the cheapest Islay scotches, and actually one of the best, is Laphroaig. Some people describe its flavour as medicinal, but that’s an adjective that can apply to all single-malts. No doubt about it: single-malts are an acquired taste. But once you’ve acquired it, it can be a hell of an experience.

The best single-malt I’ve had (excluding that time with Lagavulin) was a 15-year-old cask-strength Laphroaig which smelled like rubbing alcohol when I opened it, and then exploded with a peaty aroma and flavour as soon as I added some water. Unbelievable.

If had the money for it, I’d have a bottle of that cask-strength Laphroaig in the house, a regular bottle of Lagavulin, an 18-year-old Macallan, and some scotch from the Lowlands. That’d do me for a long time.

Who Drinks Scotch?

Beginner’s single malt Scotch is a post at MetaFilter where someone asked:

What’s a decent, inexpensive and readily available single malt or good blend for a brand-new scotch drinker whose current dram of choice is a good dark sipping rum?

The first response recommends J&B, a common, inexpensive blend that I’d never recommend, although I do drink Teachers, a cheap blend that doesn’t taste cheap.

There’s no right answer; everyone’s tastes are different. There are a lot of excellent suggestions posted, although someone wrote:

Stay clear of the Islay malts like Lagavulin or Laphroaig until you’ve cut your teeth on the easier stuff.

Bullshit. The first time you open a bottle of Lagavulin and let the aroma of peaty air permeate the room, you’ll fall in love.

The Best Single Malt Scotch

Springbank scotchThe Best Single Malt Whiskies according to Forbes magazine:

We at Forbes.com decided to help out by conducting an exhaustive survey, the results of which are my highly personal, totally subjective list of the best single malt Scotch whiskies.

I don’t agree with many of the author’s choices, although they’re all quality single-malts. Many on the list are considered “classics”; those that you read about in novels or articles. One choice I don’t understand is Bruichladdich XVII for the Best Single Malt Islay Whisky:

It’s less peaty than many Islay malts, at least at first. But if you are patient and sip on it slowly, the hallmark Islay flavors of peat and smoke and brine gradually, and most appealingly, emerge. A wonderfully subtle, sophisticated Islay malt.

I agree with his description, but Bowmore fits the “best of” category better, I think; although Lagavulin or Laphroaig could be considered the best too, given their distinct peaty characteristics.

And the author didn’t even mention the Campbelton region, where you can find the exemplary Springbank.

(via growabrain)