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Scotch

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Thread Starter 
Scotch has become one of my "other" passions outside of audio and music, and I thought I might share some of my experiences in trying various scotches. I hope others find this enjoyable and useful reading.

A quick note about how I drink scotch. Since 80 proof (or higher!) is enough alcohol to overpower your sense of smell and your sense of taste, desinsitizing you to the actual flavors contained in the scotch, I always add water. Some people say only add a "drop", but IMO that is not nearly enough. Professional "nosers" in the scotch industry dilute the scotch to 20% (40 proof) to get the full bouquet of the "nose". While that may work for opening up the nose, to me it waters down the liquor too much for drinking. Over a long period of time I've found that I taste and smell flavor the best at about 60 proof, which generally breaks down to 1 part water to 2 parts scotch. Of course I only used distilled water since distilled water doesn't have a "flavor" of it's own to influence the flavor of the scotch. Also, I never use any ice for the simple reason that lowering the temperature of the scotch reduces flavor and nose to a very signifigant degree. So, if you want the most character possible while drinking scotch, try a bit of room temperature water in it.

And a word about glasses. The traditional tumbler is not the best choice. What you want is a glass that is tulip shaped so the aroma is focused at the nose. I've found 2 glasses that I really like, one is actually a brandy glass, called Luigi Bormioli Michelangelo Napolean Brandy Glass, and can be found on amazon (among other places):

Luigi Bormioli Michelangelo Napolean Brandy Glass

The other set I really like is the one from the Scotch Doc. The glass is similar size & shape, but much thicker glass and sturdier overall:

Scotch Doc Glasses

Another set of glasses I recently got are the Reidel O glasses, they are made for wine, but work perfectly for Scotch. The viognier / Chardonnay glasses at 11 oz. capacity is the one to go for:

Reidel O Chardonnay / Viognier glasses

So, I thought I'd post some of the scotches I've picked up, and some impressions:

Aberfedly 14
The nose came through as fairly citrusy with a bit of malt in the background, but favoring the citrus a bit too much for my tastes. The taste was a lot better balanced, with the malt coming on strong. Finish was pretty short and not all that different from the initial taste. Decent, but I probably won't buy it again.

Aberlour a'bundah
ooh, a cask strength (120 proof) Aberlour. Yummy! Tastes like buttered toffee, chocolate, and cheyenne pepper. Careful, more than a glass or 2 of this will knock you on your ass. I think I've posted about this one before, but it's so good it's worth reposting.

Aberlour 15 Sherry
Compared to the 10 year old Aberlour, this one is definitely worth the price increase. The sweetness is more integrated with the overall flavor, and the "bite" of the alcohol is lessened just a bit, leading to a drink that is similar to the Macallan 18, with a bit more character, but less refinement. Whereas w/the Macallan you mainly get a buttery smooth sensation after the sweetness wears off, with the Aberlour 15 you get more of a mint type sensation.

Ardbeg 10
Holy smoke!! This one has a nice bit of a sweet intro and then SMOKE! and more SMOKE. A friend once describe it as "charred oak", and I think that's pretty accurate. One of the few under $40 scotches that is truly great. Not for beginners though :-)

Ardbeg Uigeadail
Tastes exactly like the 10 year old Ardbeg, but with a bit of extra sherry sweetness. For my money, I'm sticking with the 10, it has a more distintive character and is cheaper too.

Ardbeg 17
One of the few instances where I like the older scotch less than the younger scotch. Sure, the 17 has more depth and complexity, but the brash smokiness of the 10 year old is greatly dimished. Considering the 17 is well over $100, save your money and stick w/the 10 year old for under $40.

Ardbeg 1977
Ah, another glass of whiskey that I happened to luck in to getting gratis at my favorite pub (helps to be on a first name basis with the owner). I will not mince words, this is the best glass of whisky I've had, ever. The peat is so light it's like it floats up on helium, and it is so smooth it does not have any "sting" in the nose even at full strength with no dilution. For taste, it's the absolute perfect blend of sweet malt and peat I've ever had. Stunningly good, phenomenal whisky. If you ever get a chance to try it, do not hesitate!

Ardmore 12 - Cask Strength
Combination of cut grass, cedar, and sweet malt in the nose, with a fairly thick and oily mouth coating feel. Taste follows the nose precisely, and the finish is more cedar. Good stuff and suprisingly smooth for a young whisky.

Arran 12
Also known as "Isle of Arran". When I ordered this the poor waitress kept thinking I was saying "Isle of Iran". It was pretty comical. But, lets talk about the scotch. Has a bit of an oily texture, which I like (I usually like whisky's that are a little "thick" feeling). The aroma and taste is unique and quite wonderful. Imagine citrus potpouri, not the canned fake stuff, but the real stuff that people heat up on the stove, and you've got a good idea of what makes this whisky special. Reminds me of sorbert ice cream. Yummy.

Balvenie 12 DoubleWood
One of the first scotches I ever had. At the time I really liked it, as it was nice and sweet, with a malty flavor that was quite nice. However, after having tasted many more whisky's, I've go to say this bottling is only average, the main fault being that it tastes so young and raw, especially for it's age. If it has more fullness and smoothness I would recommend it, but alas it does not.

Balvenie 15 Single Barrel
This was my last chance taste for the Balvenie distillery. I've had a bottle of their 12 year Double Wood, and their 21 year port wood, and wasn't terribly impressed with either. Well, the 12 I liked at first simply because I hadn't compared it to many other scotches. Right now I'd say the 12 and 21 were average or below average. But, the 15 Single Barrel is supposed to be da bomb for this distillery, so I order up a glass a Pints and proceed to drink. Immediately disappointment sets in. It's not "bad", its just not all that good. And it tastes and feels so young, very sharp and prickly for a scotch this old. Subsequent tasting merely confirmed this impression.

Balvenie 21 Port wood
Definitely a better bottling than the 12 or the 15 from this distillery, in fact this one is quite enjoyable and definitely above average. It is actually quite good, and if you are looking for a smooth, sweet (winey) scotch, this is it. I enjoyed my bottle while I had it, but haven't felt compelled to buy another one.

Ben Nevis 10
It has been a while since I had a really good scotch, and honestly I wasn't expecing much out of the Ben Nevis 10. What a pleasant suprise. Starts off with a big malty nose with a hint of orange and vanalla. Sweet malt taste to start with, aniseed and vanilla with a touch of orange, and a very late dry oak finish. Yum.

Benrinnes 1982 Signatory
Back to the highlands with this one. This one was quite unique in that I consistently picked up the flavor of bubble gum right smack dab in the middle of the flavor. Otherwise it was pretty standard highland malt type taste. It's pretty rare, and definitely worth trying, but I won't be buying it again.

Bowmore Darkest
Now this is the good stuff. I love Bowmore Darkest, a great blend of the sweetness of the speyside malts, and the smoky dark flavor of an Isaly. Highly recommended. Word of warning, some people have found the bottling of Bowmore whiskies to be inconsistant, with some batches being weak and mediocre tasting. Luckily I've not had a single bottle from a bad batch, they've all been really excellent.

{edit} after trying this one in the pub, I bought a bottle, and I went through a period thinking it was "flat" and fairly low quality. Figured I had finally gotten one of the infamous "bad bottles", but I tried it again recently after having opened over a month ago, and it is back to tasting as good as I remember it at the pub. I guess this one needs to "breath" a bit before it hits its stride.

{2nd edit} One other note, the Darkest is one of the few scotches that I like much better "neat", with no water added. When taken neat, the initial sweetness has a thickly viscous feel, ala a Macallan, which caries through the middle and then converts at the end to the typical Bowmore smokiness. Great stuff. If you put water in it, the initial sweetness is greatly diminished, and the whisky really does end up tasting "flat".


Bowmore 12
One of the few scotches I like better without any water added. Without water its very dry and smoky, not sweet at all, reminding me of dying embers of a fire. With water it smooths out and sweetens a bit, but IMO it is to the detriment of the experience. Word of warning, some people have found the bottling of Bowmore whiskies to be inconsistant, with some batches being weak and mediocre tasting. Luckily I've not had a single bottle from a bad batch, they've all been really excellent.

Bowmore 12 - Signatory Non-Chillfiltered
Very light in color for a Bowmore. This is now the 3rd time that the Signatory non-Chillfiltered range has a bottling that is much better than the distillery bottling (Glenrothes and Edradour being the others). It is more oily, and a lot smoother than the distillery bottlings, little to no sherry sweetness, it's all malty sweet, grassyness, and the trademark bowmore smoke. None of the grainy hotness of the distillery bottlings. Really good and definitely recommended.

Bowmore Marriner 15yr
Somewhere halfway between the taste of the Bowmore 12 and the Bowmore Darkest. Of course, being a Bowmore it is a very good scotch. But for my preferences it doesn't rate as high as the 12 or the darkest.

Bowmore 17
Very similar to the 15, but with even more sherry sweetness, much closer to the overall flavor of Bowmore Darkest, but the 17 is definitely smoother, with more wood flavor mingling with the usual smoke flavor.

Bowmore 25
What many feel is perhaps the best expression of bowmore. As with most bowmores, no water should be added. First thing that hits you with this one is the incredible thickness of it, the viscosity. My friend said it was "thick like motor oil". He was not wrong. If you do "not" warm it in your hand, the nose and taste are oily, soapy, and woody, and not particularly pleasant. Warming it in the hand causes the soapiness to go away, and the thick malt flavor (with low sweetness) to come to the fore. Layers and layers of intensity just slowly peel away before you. The finish is almost entirely wood, strong "old vanilla" flavor, mixed with the trademark smokiness of this distillery, although the smoke is greatly subdued. Overall a very interesting dram, but not top 10 material. The Bowmore 12 and Dusk remain my favorite Bowmores.

Bowmore Dawn
Ooh, a port wood finish and at cask strength, me likes! Man, Bowmore is making a hard dash to the top of my list for distileries. The Dawn is definitely sweeter and easier at first sip, very sweet and grapey tasting, then developing a tawny and spicy earthy tast in the middle, and finishing with it's signature smokey flavor. Word of warning, some people have found the bottling of Bowmore whiskies to be inconsistant, with some batches being weak and mediocre tasting. Luckily I've not had a single bottle from a bad batch, they've all been really excellent.

Bowmore Dusk
This is their Bordeaux finish, and it is magnificent. All of the Bowmore's I've had have been exceptionally good, but this one is the best of the bunch, IMO. The sort of dark flavoring of the Bordeaux matches perfectly the woody/smokey flavor endemic to all Bowmore's I've tried. Throw in the fact that it's at cask strength and pretty readily available, is not too harsh, and is overall delicious both to the experienced scotch drinker and the newbie alike, and you have a real winner. Top 5 with a bullet.

Bruichladdich 10
Pretty smooth for a young liquor - even though it's technically not an Islay, it has a lot of islay characteristics. Phenolic and peaty, and a bit of astringincy from the low aging. Reminds me a lot of a lighter, more gentle version of the Ardbeg 10. Not bad, but, IMO, not great.

Bruichladdich 15
Significant increase in price over the 10 year old, but definitely worth it, has a smoother, deeper, and more complex taste. But keeps the slight Islay character, making for a pretty great scotch. Definitely in my top 5.

Bruichladdich 17
Yet another step up over the 15. Keeps the greater depth of the 15, but has a touch more peat. Intense flavor, but not overpowering smokiness or peatiness like a Lagavulin or Laphroaig. A sophisticated and complex dram.

Bruichladdich Links
Bruichladdich has come out with a new line of limited release scotches to celebrate that other great scottish invention, golf. I'm not much of a golfer, but I am an old hand at whisky, so this release suits me just fine. This is a great, great whisky. Really the only one I've had that really gets close to the Ardbeg 1977 in overall quality, albiet in a different style. The Links has an almost perfect combination of golden highland sweetness and a secondary Laphroaig style peatiness. Then it finishes with a peaty oakiness, very smooth indeed. Not super peaty, or super sherried, or super oaky, or super malty, but rather hits all these notes in perfect balance, and with grace. Throw in the fact that it's not chill filtered and has no coloring added, and it's "almost" enough to join the Ardbeg 1977 at the top of my list.

Bunnahabhain 12
This was a quite interesting scotch, it's an Islay, so it has a heavier feel and body than the highland malts, but unlike most Islay's, it's not very peaty. It has some good smoke flavor, combined with good maltiness in the taste. It starts smokey and malty, transitions to more malty, then finishes mainly smokey again. Reminds me of a heavier and maltier version of the Ardbeg 10, but with less overall smoke taste.

Bunnahabhain 14 - McPhail Collection
My local liquor store recently got this in for a reasonable price, so I picked a bottle up. Where I was only moderately impressed with the Distillery bottled 12 year old, I am quite impressed with this McPhail bottled 14 year old. The overall flavor profile is similar, but slightly different. The somewhat heavy feel is still there, perhaps even intensified, and the malty sweetness is definitely higher. The middle flavor is almost chocolatey (similar to a Dalmore 12), and the finish is a wonderful smoke reminiscent of pipes (if you've ever smoked a pipe before). Very good.

Caol Ila 12
Picked up a bottle because it is supposed to actually be better than the 18 from this distillery, and I really love the 18. After tasting it I have to disagree, the 18 is better. The 12 is much, mush more peaty, with very little of the malt and depth that characterize the 18. It was so peaty, in fact, that I did a head-to-head with it and the Lagavulin 12 Cask Strength I also happen to have on hand. I can say that the Caol Ila 12 is better here. It is smoother, softer, less spirity, and has more depth and complexity to the flavor. I'd actually say its probably a bit closer to the Laphroaig than the Lagavulin or Ardbeg style of peatiness.

Caol Ila 14
Another Islay type malt, smoother than the Bruichladdich 10, but less full than the Bruichladdich 15. I liked this one quite a bit, but it's pretty rare.

Caol Ila 18
My local liquor store just stocked up on this for a very reasonable price, so I picked up a bottle. Tasting it with no water shows a sharp and spirity taste, so water needs to be added. I find that 3:1 ratio of Scotch:water is about right. At that point, the nose and palate are in remarkable synchronicity. Initial taste/smell is cinammon transitioning to currants. Middle is currants and curry. Finish is refined peat, malt, and a touch of smoke. Definitely an Islay malt, but ultra refined. In fact it probably has more in common with Highland Park 18 than with Lagavulin 16. Overall very much worth it's price.

Clynelish 12 - Signatory
Yet another Islay style malt, this one is quite oily and viscous tasting/feeling. Overall I'd say it was of average quality. I didn't like it much at first, but noticed I liked it better as I got toward the bottom of the glass. Maybe it just needed to breathe a bit?

Clynelish 14
At last, someone had a bottling from the distillery. Most bottles I've seen have been from private bottlers, like Cadenhead and Signatory. I'd been hearing good things about the bottlings from the distillery but never ran across one to try. I'll say flat out that it's the best under $200 a bottle scotch I've ever had. It is so, so close to my #1 scotch (Ardbeg 1977) in both flavor profile, smoothness, refinement, and all around goodness that I'd call it the bargain of the century, considering it sells for $47 at my local liquor store. For taste, see my description of the Ardbeg 1977, and just modify that to have a slight bit more sharpness to the nose and taste, and more maltiness overall. Damn good stuff, and easily knocks the Springbank 12 y.o. 175th anniversary bottling out of 2nd place.

Craggenmore
This one "noses" very yummy, great aroma. Unfortunately the actual taste is a big letdown. Very much similar to the "kerosine" flavor that Glenlivet 12 also exhibits. Not recommended

Dalmore 12
Ahh, my favorite type of discovery, a really good tasting scotch that is inexpensive. I really like this one, it starts off quite sweet ala Macallan or Aberlour, but quickly transitions to oaky/peaty tasting in the finish. Very nice and currently the only under $30 scotch that I like. Based on taste and quality, it comptes very nicely with many scotches in the $50 price range. However, once you get to that price range, the Bowmore Darkest kicks the Dalmore 12's little hiney.

{edit} After going through my 2nd bottle of this, I'm upgrading it quite a bit. Over time it has become one of my absolute favorite scotches, 2nd to Oban and tied with Highland Park for best "all around" scotch. This one really has it all, a smooth malt flavor, sweet tobacco, orange, late smoke, and a very light touch of peat. The recent bottlings have been outstanding.

Dalmore 21
Ah, now we are talking, Dalmore had a "ambassador" visit Denver last night, and I got to drink a decent amount of the 12 year old, the 21 year old, and the Cigar malt. Focusing on the 12 and 21 year olds for a minute, I'd say the 12 is good but not nearly at the level of the 21. The 21 has more of a vanilla/oak taste with a much longer finish, and overall much, much more smooth. Of course its also $65, so it had better be good. And it is, I'd say it is definitely worth the money. Not very peaty, but a bit spicy with some nice honey notes.

Dalmore Cigar Malt
OK, this one is insanely good for the money. For $28 you will not find a better scotch. Hell, for $50 you're still gonna have a hard time doing better. Smoother than the Dalmore 12, fuller, more smoky, and a darker flavor, with hints of coffee/chocolate. Delicious. How much do I like it? I like it enough to ignore the stupid name and give it my enthusiastic recommendation. You don't have to drink it with a cigar, it is superb as a stand alone drink.

{edit} After living with the Cigar Malt I'm downgrading my rating just a little. I still think it is very good for the $$, but over time it has started to taste a little too "liquer" like, and not scotch enough. The coffee/chocolate sweetness is just a tiny bit cloying. Now, this is coming from a pretty hardcore scotch drinker, so I doubt most people would notice or care. Still a good scotch for the money.

{Second edit} OK, downgrading this one some more. The Liquere type taste in this one really gets annoying on repeated tasting. It does indeed go well with a cigar, but as a standalone I don't recommend it.

Dalmore 30
Got this dram free from my local pub (as a pre-birthday present), and I have to say that is was awesome. Reminded me of buttered caramel popcorn. Sweet buttery goodness! And a looong sweet oak finish. Not much else to say except TRY IT!

Deanston 17
Expected to dislike this one after all the negative reviews of it. But to my suprise I actually liked it. The reviews are correct in the respect that this malt doesn't "do much". It starts of with a buttery malty nose, with a butterscotchy taste, and a malty buterscotch finish. But I still found I liked the taste that was there, despite the sameness of it. Don't think I'll be buying a bottle, but a good dram at the pub, nonetheless.

Dufftown - Whyte & Whyte bottling
Tried this on the recommendation of a scotch-o-phile friend when I asked them for something that was very malty. The nose is not all that great, really pretty closed down and hard to pick up much at all. But the taste is very good, sweet malt in abundance. No real change in character for the quite short finish, so this is a simple dram, pretty good quality, but marked down because of the short finish and lack of nose.

Edradour 10
Wow, this one is really sweet, but not "sherry" sweet, more like sugared nuts (maybe cashews?) kinda sweet. Throw in the fact that it has just a little trace of astringency, and a very full flavor and feel, and you've got one fine malt. Only the short finish is a bit of a let down. Otherwise very nice.

{update} Tried this one again recently, and it still had the same sweetness, an almost "candylike" sweetnes (those sugared nuts again), but this time there was also a bit of grunginess to the taste, almost like dirty laundry. It was subtle, but definitely there. I hear that Edradour is notorious for having variable bottlings, so maybe I just got a bad one this time.

Edradour 10 - Signatory
At last, a bottling that does the Edradour distillery proud. This has all the strengths and none of the weaknesses of the distillery bottling above. Sweet, malty, full, clove and sugared nuts in the nose. Sweet, full malt, big and "wet" (as opposed to dry) flavor and feel on the tongue, and a strong oak finish. Damn fine stuff and highly recommended for lovers of Highland style malts.

Glendronach 15
Reminds me a lot of the Mortlach below. Very sherried, with a woodsy/leather type finish. I like it better than the Mac 12, but I think I like the mortlach a bit better, just that extra little bit of character and length to the finish that gives it the edge.

{edit}Tried this one again and I believe that this is one scotch that is better taken "neat" without added water. Without water you get that great sherry sweet viscous taste up front, and it balances very nicely the woodsy finish. With water added, the taste looses a lot of intensity in the sweetness department, and becomes almost nothing but wood/leather tasting.

Glenfarclas 12
Another go at the Glenfarclas for me, I keep trying it and wanting to like it, so I can have an alternative to the ever-increasingly-expensive Macallan scotch. Starting off, typical sherry sweetness and transitioning to maltiness. But right in the middle I get the taste of cleaning fluid, it's slight, but enough to make the dram unpleasant. Finish is fairly unremarkable. Maybe I've gotten a couple of bad bottlings in a row, but I won't be trying another one again from Glenfarclas for a while.


Glenfarclas 17
Only had one dram of this at a pub, but it was pretty good, reminded me of a cross between the Aberlour 15 and the Macallans 18. Quite enjoyable, but has a slight hint of a sulpher like taste in the middle that prevents me from rating it at the same level as the Macallan.

Glenfarclas '105'
Tried this one on the recommendation of the "Malt Maniacs" site I visit sometimes. One last chance for the Glenfarclas distillery, since I've been underwhelmed with their other bottlings. Nose is heavily sherried, mixed with malt, and that's about it. Taste is again heavily sherried, but unlike other Glenfarclas' I've had, this one does not have that icky sulpher taste. No, this one has a taste that reminds me of polished wooden floors. Strange, but not a definite negative like the sulpher taste. Finish is fairly short and doesn't change much from the nose and taste. Overall this bottling doesn't have the same spicy quality that makes the Macallan Cask Strength and Aberlour A'Bundah so good.

Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve
I'm normally not a fan of the 'fiddich, the 12 year old is pretty boring, almost exactly on par with the Glenlivet 12. But I picked up a bottle of the 'fiddich 15 Solera reserve because the do something very interesting indeed in the aging and finishing process. First, most of the whisky is aged in traditional bourbon oak barrels, then it is transferred to new oak barrels for finishing. In addition, other parts of the whisky are aged in sherry casks, then all of it is combined in a huge vat called the Solera reserve. This vat is never more than half empty at anytime, with the idea that there will always be present much older whisky than the 15 year old stuff that just got added. So, what are the results? Well I can say without a doubt this is the best 'fiddich I've had. It starts of with that light sherry/malty sweetness, transitions to a light malty center, and finishes with a quite nice mixture of new and old oak taste. Overall its still just a touch "light" for my top recommendations, but it was certainly worth the $45 I paid for it. If you're a fan of this distillery you owe it to yourself to check out this bottling.

Glenfiddich 18 - Ancient Reserve
Confession time - this is the 1st time I've had the 18 year old fiddich - I always avoided it because I had a bad impression of the 12 year old, and the fiddich brand is generally poo-poo'd by the "scotch elite". Well, here is another example of where the "scotch elite" have there heads up their collective butts. This was a GREAT dram, one of the better ones I've had. It reminded me a lot of the Dalmore 21, with malty sweetness, smoke, chocolate, dry oak, all mixed in to a smooth experience with a kick at the end. Really great smoky and dry oak finish on this one. Where the Dalmore 21 is a bit more of a "wet" smoke (like a pipe), the fiddich 18 is a drier smoke (like a campfire). Highly recommended.

Glen Garioch 15
Tried this one at pint's pub, and it's a lot of fun. Not particularly sweet, but quite malty, and interestingly enough, smoke but no peat. Overall a very fun drink (in a serious kind of way). I really like it, and will probably buy a bottle before long.

Glengoyne 17
I'm a little hesitant to write this one up as I was having a bad "nose day". Sensitivity of smell can and does vary, and it was a bit on the low side for me today. But, given that I will say that this dram was a bit disappointing, the initial nose was a bit soapy, otherwise it was very malty, and lightly sweet. Taste was strongly malty, with an old oak finish, slightly bitter.

Glenlivet 12
A bit of tropical fruits (waxy) on the nose and palate, but VERY subtle. So reticent, in fact, that the experience is quite underwhelming. A boring bottling, your money is best spent elsewhere.

Glenlivet 15 - French Oak
Similar in character to the 12, with the tropical fruits flavors a bit more to the fore, and a more distinct oakiness in the finish. Overall not bad, but not really all that good either.

Glenlivet 16 Nadurra
Now THIS is a great bottling from this distillery. The passion fruit and kumkwats house flavor is much more intense and to the fore. Finish is not much different than the initial flavor, but quite long. Strongly recommended if you must have a Glenlivet.

Glenlivet 18
Wow, the big shocker of the bunch. I had the 12 year old and absolutely hated it. The 12 wasn't just boring (which it certainly was), but was actively bad, reminding me of kerosine more than anything else. But the 18 is a whole 'nother thing entirely. The extra 6 years mellows this one out a lot, and you end up with a mellow, sorta peaty, sorta sweet scotch. Not the most characterful scotch around, but still very enjoyable to drink. Lets call it "middle of the road", but a high quality middle of the road.

{edit} OK, tried this again 3 months later, and I have to downgrade it a bit. Still a decent scotch, but overall pretty boring and not particularly tasty. There's just not much character there. I think I rated it more highly initially because I was expecting it to be terrible like the 12 year old is. Trust me, save your money and get something truly great, like an 18 year old Macallan, 15 year old Springbank, 16 year old Lagavulin, or 17 year old Bowmore.

{2nd edit} Tried this again tonight, and this time was specifically looking for the "herbal" character a friend said was prominent. I'll be damned if it wasn't there all right. Knowing to look for it and being able to taste it enhanced my enjoyment of this bottling immensely. I don't think (as seems to be popular among some "afficianado's") that denigrating a popular or widely available scotch makes me an "elite" scotch drinker. I try to find things that I "do" like about a particular bottling, rather than things I "do not" like. I believe Hemingway said that there were not bad whisky's, only some that were better than others. I definitely agree with that statement. While I still wouldn't put the Glenlivet 18 with the top rank, I do feel it is worth the $70 price tag.

Glenlossie 15
Very light malt. Has a fairly grassy taste to it, with a bit of pear thrown in. Very short finish. Not really recommended, unless you like lowland-style malts.

Glenmorangie Madiera Wood
OK, I've been hard on Glenmorangie in the past, and this is a partial retraction - the Madiera wood finish is quite nice. Reminds me of the Bowmore Dawn a bit, but smoother and easier going down, less smoke, but similar levels of spiciness. After a few more tastings, the spice in particular that I taste is clove. Very nice once you are on the look out for it. Short finish though. I think this bottling is a very good spring or summer scotch, where Bowmore is more a fall and winter scotch. I may have to try their port wood finish next.

{update for Glenmorangie Madiera Wood}
I did a taste off against this one and the Balvenie 21 Port Wood. Gotta say that the Glenmorangie was signifigantly better, and at a lower price to boot. Where the Balvenie had a bit of sharpness (even after 21 years of aging), the Glenmorangie was remarkable smooth and full for a 12 year old scotch. Where the Balvenie was a bit citrusy tasting, the Glenmorangie was more of a honeysuckle and clover flavor.

Glenmorangie Burgandy Wood
Saw this at my local liquor store (which has greatly increased it's scotch section, much to my delight). Picked it up immediately because I had such a good memory of the Madiera Wood finish from this same distillery. Getting it home and in a glass, oh man oh man this is goooood stuff. My favorite bottling from this distillery, beating out the 15 and 18 year old pretty handily. Not only that it is so smooth and drinkable it is my #1 recommendation for people just getting in to scotch, or people that don't think scotch is "for them". It is a beautiful dram. Nose is the typical glenmorangie goodness, clove and honey, but with an addition of plum. Taste is reminiscent of baked plums and sugar/spice. Finish is also typical of Glenmorangie, looooong, malty and with a very late arrival of oak.

Glenmorangie 10
OK, I'm doing an about-face on the Glenmorangie distillery. Initially I must have had a bad bottle or something, cause the 10 year old is very, very good. Has a very slight sherry sweetness up front, but it transitions almost immediately to the typical Glenmorangie clove/honeysuckle flavor. A bit more "spicy" than the Glenmorangie Madiera wood, but less sweet. More clove and less honeysuckle. Add to that a full and smooth feel on the tongue, and I'd say its highly recommended.

Glenmorangie 15
Very similar in style to the 10 year old, but much heavier, thicker, and sweeter. Really great. Starts of quite sweet, but it's a malty sweetness, not a sherry sweetness ala Macallans. Transitions to that wonderful spicy maltiness in the middle, and finishes up with a vanilla/woody flavor. The best of the glenmorangies I've had so far, and one of my absolute favorite malts.

{update} After having lived with the Glenmorangie 15 year old for a few months, I'm very impressed. It has a depth and smooth complexity that are very enticing. Definitely my favorite bottling from this distillery, and one of my favorite scothes overall.

Glenmorangie 18
All the recent bottlings I've tried from this distillery have been excellent, and the 18 year old is no exception. Really great stuff, very malty and with that great spicy character endemic to this distillery. That said, I did not find it appreciably better than the 15, so my advice is to stick with the 15 and use the money saved to buy some more scotch!

Glen Moray 12
For some reason I've been on a kick lately of really enjoying "malty" flavored scotches, and this one definitely qualifies. Not as dynamic or interesting as a lot of other scotches, but a straightforward uncomplicated dram for sure. Similar to the Glenrothes. For an inexpensive scotch I'd recommend the Dalmore 12 or the Glenmorangie 10 over it, but for $24 the Glen Moray is certainly not bad, and certainly better than most blended scotch I've had.

Glen Ord 12 - Cask Strength
Suprisingly light and grassy. Reminded me a lot of a good lowland malt.

Glenrothes 1989
This was my favorite of the last batch of 5 scotches, definitely a highland malt, perhaps a bit fuller and heavier than most highlands, and it is, IMO excellent. It is perfectly balanced in it's highland way like Oban is balanced in it's way, just without the strong peaty and briny elements that Oban has. Sweet, maltly, nutty, spicy, all come together very nicely. Recommended.

{edit} Tried this again at pint's pub and have to say I didn't get as much sweetness this time, and more of a dark spice type flavor. I don't think that it's 'perfectly balanced' as I said before, but it is nicely balanced and good quality, just not at the top echelon. Good but not great.

Glenrothes 1990 - Signatory
Aha, finally a Glenrothes bottling that lives up to the promise I always felt this distillery had. This is a great, great bottling, on par with the best offerings from Glenmorangie (which has a similar style). Gone are the "dirty socks" and "dark" quality of the distillery bottlings. This is pure, sweet malt, cinnamon, blueberry concentrate, and a long, new oak finish. Very delicious and highly recommended.

Glen Scotia 14
One of only 3 whiskies made in Campbeltown (Springbank and Longrow being the other 2). Has some similar qualities to Springbank, the sort of briny finish being one. But on the other hand it also shares some character with a more Islay malt like Caol Ila, with the peat more prominent and a more grassy and less sweet flavor. Not in the same class as Springbank, but still a quite good whisky.

Highland Park 12
Ah, the scotch that Michael Jackson calls "the greatest all-rounder in the world of scotch". Nice phrase, only I disagree, I'd give that honor to Oban. The Highland Park would rate up there if it were only as full and smooth as Oban. But, enough comparisons, how does it taste? Starts with a thin sweetness, moves to a beeswax flavor, and finishes with a touch of clover and a hint of smoke. But still a very "young" tasting scotch

{edit} Picked up another bottle of the 12 after my 18 had run out, mainly because it was cheaper and I wanted to verify if my memory was correct on this one (good but not great). I've got to say that lately I've been enjoying less sherried and more "malty" flavored scotches, and am raising my estimation of the HP 12 quite a bit. I really like how this one treads the line between a malty speyside flavor and a peaty Islay flavor. The malt is strong and the peat is light, and the balance is just right. No scotch bar should be without it (unless of course they have the 18 year old instead).

Highland Park 18
About $30 more than the HP 12, and soooo worth it, it is an excellent scotch. Very similar flavor profile to the 12, but significantly fuller and smoother. Not in my personal top five, but I can see how it would top someone else's list. Longer finish with additional notes of heather and leather.

Highland Park - Old Malt Cask
Special, independent bottling of HP at cask strength (100 proof), aged 16 years, and not chill filtered. An even better scotch than the distiller edition 18 year old listed above. A bit less smooth, but the other flavors all come across stronger, particularly the heather/leather finish. Yummy. Not my top 5, but definitely top 10.

Highland Park - Signatory non-chillfiltered
This is the only bottling I've had from the Signatory Non-Chill Filtered line that wasn't better than the Distillery bottling (Edradour and Glenrothes were both much better w/Signatory). Not that this was bad at all, it has the traditional Highland Park strenghts of a clean, sweet maltiness married to a bit of smoke, a bit of honey, a bit of heather. But the dry charcoal/leather taste I get from the distillery bottlings is notably absent here. Overall very good but not quite able to step in to greatness.

Highland Park - Signatory 24
Very light color and body. I don't think any sherry casks were used at all for this bottling. Shockingly light and grassy. Is this even a HP? Straight it tastes almost exactly like Glen Ord. That's not a bad whisky, but I expect a lot better from a HP. Adding a bit of water improves things, bringing out a bit of the honey flavor this distillery is famous for, and also bringing out a bit of light, Ardbeg style peat. But it's too little. Avoid this and go for the distillery bottling of the 18 year old instead, its much more complex, full bodied, and just better.

Imperial 12 - non-chillfiltered
Alas, a distillery that has closed down, but there is still stock left on the market. This one has a very clean, intense malt flavor, with a smell like taking a walk in an evergreen forest in the spring. That intense pine smell, minus the sap smell. Taste is again very clean and malty, zesty, but not citrusy. How malty is this? Well, my friend said the finish tasted "like beer". That's pretty malty alright. Perhaps the most intensely malty dram I've had. But it's not heavy like a Strathisla or a Longmorn, but a lighter style, like Glenmorangie. Really fine stuff.

Isle of Jura - Superstition
Found a bottle of this after looking for nearly a year. It is perhaps the most unique tasting malt I've had this year. Nose and palate are very much a bees wax and biscuit flavor. Finish adds a touch of peat in the background. Very, very smooth. Recommended if you are looking for something refined and unique.

{edit}Trying a few more drams of this, the bees-wax flavor seperates out in to 2 different and disctint flavors - a big, buttery maltiness (ala Aberlour), and a quite heavy peatiness (in the style of Laphoaig 10 Cask Strength). My respect and enjoyment of this dram just went up quite a bit at this unexpected development of complexity. Superb and a killer bargain. Still a "very" unique taste and nose.

Isle of Jura 16
The Jura has gotten better in recent bottlings, it's now pretty good (it was only passable before). A touch of spice and cinamon up front, transitioning to a malty and smoky (but not sweet) middle, and finishing smoky with a very faint hint of peat. Not a sweet scotch, but interesting and good.

Lagavulin 16
Ah, the favorite distillery of many, many scotch fanatics. Like the Ardbeg 10, it has an insane amount of smoke upfront. Like the Laphroaig 10, it has a huge peat finish. And it keeps them both in perfect balance. Not a very malty or sweet scotch, but the intensity of its earthy and smoky flavors is amazing. Highly recommended.

Lagavulin 12 - Cask Strength
Picked this up while on vacation in Europe recently. It's not available in the US currently, only in Europe so I was very glad to find a bottle (in a little town on the German/French border). Some scotches I like at full strength, but this is one bottling you "have" to cut. I find that 1 part water to 1 part scotch is about right. This brings it to 60 proof, and at that point the taste and nose really open up. Doing a head to head with the Lagavulin 16 shows that the 2 are somewhat alike, but with significant differences. The 12 is more of a peat monster, and you can tell less aging was done in Sherry casks than with the 16. The extra 4 years of aging for the 16 show a mellower presentation (if the word "mellow" can ever be applied to Lagavulin!), and a deeper, more complex malt. But, the 12 has it's own brash charms. It reminds me a lot of the Ardbeg 10, but in a head to head with the Ardbeg, the Lagavulin show itself to have all the peat attack, but none of the sharp spirity nature of the Ardbeg 10. So, I'd rate it somewhat below the Lagavulin 16, but definitely above the Ardbeg 10.

Laphroaig 10
Shockingly smooth for a 10 year old. Very peaty and uh, peaty, and more peaty. Lacks the smokiness of Lagavulin and Ardbeg, but for a smooth and peaty tasting scotch, it is great. Vies with Ardbeg 10 and Macallan 12 as my favorite under $40 scotch.

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength
Very similar to the standard 10 year old in overall "feel", same smoothness, same sweet peat flavor, same smokey, long finish. But just intensified. Flavors are more pronounced and amazing. This one goes straight to my Top 5, nudging the Bruichladdich 15 out.

Laphroaig 15
A laphroaig is a laphroaig is a laphroaig. Meaning that the 15 is definitely similar to the 10 and the 10 Cask Strength. But the extra aging brings the maltiness to the fore, and recedes the seaweed/iodine flavor just a bit. Personally I like the more emphatic taste of the 10 Cask Strength. The 15 is very good, but not my favorite from Laphroaig.

Ledaig 15
Very similar to Laphroaig 10 in that it's very peaty/oaky tasting, but it has a bit less body and a bit less sweetness. Overall a good "manly" scotch, but definitely not for beginners. A bit dull and boring though. Peaty, but reticent.


Linkwood 10
This one is total swill. Avoid at all cost. Michael Jackson says it has a "lemon zest" to the finish. Lemon zest my ass. Sour and icky is what I get. Adding water made it worse. I didn't even finish it, it was that bad.

Longrow 10 - Bourbon finish
Tried this at pints and I'm very glad I did. It's the more peaty/smokey release from the Springbank distillery. This one also was not aged in sherry casks, but exclusively in bourbon casks. This gives it a much lighter, less heavy, more grassy initial flavor. But them comes the intense malt and salty sweetness this distillery is known for, and finishes with a bit of lingering smoke. Overall a "ligher" dram, but a really excellent one.

Longrow 10 - Sherry finish
Had high hopes for this one after I was so impressed with the Longrow 10 Bourbon finish (above). But I was a bit disappointed. It was almost exactly like the bourbon finish above, but the sherry did not add much depth, in fact it seemed to cover up some of the interesting things that the bourbon finish had. The sherry seemed "pasted on", and not particularly integrated. Still pretty good, but not at the level of excellence of it's bourbon sibling.

Longmorn 15
Very highly rated scotch that just have not been able to connect with. I think it's the slightly licorice taste I get from it. I don't like licorice, so that tends to become a focal point and prevents me from really enjoying this one.

{edit} After having it sit in my cabinet for about 3 months I decided to pull it out again and give it another go. This time I let it sit out and breathe a lot more than last time, 30 minutes total before I took a drink. This time instead of licorice, I taste sweet peperment. Much nicer! Add to that the smooth overall character, and the malty middle and you've got yourself a great spring/summer malt. I tried another glass that I didn't let breathe and it was back to the licorice taste. So let it sit for a bit and enjoy.

Longmorn - 1973 (Signatory bottling)
Another spectacular dram. Very, very similar to the Macallan 25 I also had recently. Same incredible depth, same thick viscosity on the tongue, same super layered, old oak, intense finish. Main difference is the Mac 25 has a more intense sherry flavor upfront, where the longmorn is almost entirely deep malt with sweetness. Awesome.

Macallan 12
The Macallan 12 is quite an interesting malt from the standpoint that many of the scotch "authorities" rate it highly, and many plain old enthusiasts rate it rather lower. I'm with the authorities, I think it is quite good, and great for the $$. I think many enthusiasts let the fact that the 12 is not very smoky or peaty lower their overall rating, where to me, it is simply a different style, but excellently executed. I certainly like it over the similar style Glenfarclas scotches I've had, since the Glenfarclas has a sort of sulpher taste that bothers me a little bit.

Macallan 12 - new triangle label
This is the newest bottling from Macallan, brought out recently after they had also brought out their "Fine Oak" series of Bourbon cask aged whisky. This new sherry aged Macallan 12 is FAR, FAR better than the previous sherry bottlings over the last few years. I know that demand for Macallan had outstripped supply over the past few years, so my theory is that they had started scraping bottom on their supply, and they came out with the Fine Oak Range specifically to cut demand for the Sherry Oak range, which allowed them to be a lot more choosy about good quality Sherry casks that they bottled. Whatever, all I can say is that this new Mac 12 is BETTER than my Mac 18 and my Mac Cask Strength bottlings here. For $40 this is a no brainer - BUY IT.

Macallan 18
Picked this one up just as I was on the last serving of my previous bottle of Macallan 12. In direct comparison, I have to say that the 18 is certainly better than the 12, in that the 18 has a bit more complexity (a little pepper and even a touch of peat), but is it $70 better ($35 for the 12, $105 for the 18 )? IMO, no. The 12 is actually a little smoother, and while less complex, is a very enjoyable, straightforward scotch.

{edit} After living with the Mac 18 for a bit longer, I'm revising my rating upward. IMO, it IS worth the $105, someone described it as the "rolls royce" of scotch, and I agree. For a smooth, luxurious, upholstered scotch, it can't be beat, at least not by anything commonly available. The Mac Cask strength may be a more fun and characterful drink, the Mac 18 simply oozes class and refinement. Top 5 for sure.

Macallan 25
Finally got to try this on a business trip (company paying for food & drink, woohoo!). I have to say it is the finest Mac I've ever had and one of the best scotches so far. It has all the smooth clean flavor of the new triangle-label 12 year old, with the traditional intense malt/sherry sweetness upfront, but it is balanced by the gentlest, most layered, delicious old oak/vanilla flavor imaginable. Finish is loong and complex, layers and layers of wood infused malt. Really great stuff.

Macallan Cask Strength
Putting this head to head against the Aberlour a'bundah shows the a'bundah to be a bit thicker ane caramel-like it taste and texture, with the Macallan being more of a dense sherry character with strong caramel characteristics. Both are absolutely great and don't need any water added to enjoy them. In fact if you don't drink them neat, they lose a bit of their intense flavoring. Carefull though, at 120 proof they will both knock you on your ass in no time flat.

Macallan 27
Almost exactly like the 25 year old. In fact, I think the 25 is a bit better. The 27 has more intensity in the upfront sherry sweetness, and it tends to mask the malty middle and even a bit of the layered oak finish.

Macallan Fine Oak 15
Much lighter than the traditional sherry aged Macallans. Lighter even than the similar-in-style Mortlach 15. But it noses very similar to the Mortlach 15 below, sweet malt, cut grass, hint of curry. But body is similar to a Glenmorangie 10 year old, and the taste starts off with peppermint stick, transitions to sweet malt with mint leaves and shortbread cookies. Overall it is quite good, despite an only medium length finish.

Mannochmore 12 - Cask Strength
Pretty rare dram, but worth seeking out. Light in color and light in body, but very clean, sweet malt, grassiness, a touch of smoke, and a strong wood finish. Very good and one of the best "lighter" malts I've ever had. Highly recommended, if you can find it.

Mortlach 15
Unlike the Murray McDavid Bottling below, this one was not aged in first fill sherry casks, and it is a much better tasing whisky for it. This one has a classic highland maltiness, with a somewhat thick, oily mouth feel. Throw in a bit of spicy character ala Glenmorangie 15, and a bit of peat and smoke, and you have one damn good dram. Hard to find but worth seeking out.

Mortlach 13 - Murray McDavid Bottling
Casked in 1990 and bottled in 2003 using all fresh sherry casks. Tastes like a Macallans but with a touch more character. Overall good, but a bit disappointing due to me having very high expectations indeed for this distillery. I found out later that this particular bottling is not very representative of the distillery, so I'll have to pick up another bottle some time in the future.

{edit} After about 3 months in my cabinet, this bottle went bad. Became very sour tasting, so I had to throw the bottle out. It was good while it lasted, but definitely a word of warning to anyone thinking about buying this particular bottling.

Mortlach 13 - Signatory 1989
Another sherry bottling, but a much better bottle than the Murray McDavid above. Where the MM above was completely and thoroughly dominated by the sherry (very similar to the Macallan), this one starts off very sherried, but retains a "cut grass" speyside character (to borrow a phrase). Then the finish has a very nice curry and ginger. Definitely recommended if you can find it.

Oban 14
An almost perfectly balanced scotch, sweet, malty, peaty, a touch of smoke, a very light touch of salt. Nothing stands out as an over-riding characteristic, but that's the beauty. Reminds me a little bit of the Glenlivet 18, but with a lot more character.

{edit}Drinking a bit more Oban last night, I definitely picked up a taste of mango at the first part of the finish. And the smoke in there is reminescent of a freshly lit cigarette. Overall still quite taste, if a bit "hot". Better if diluted to 2 parts scotch to 1 part water instead of my normal 3:1 ratio.

Old Pulteney 12
Had this bottle about a week. It was very inexpensive ($30) and I'd been wanting to try it for a while. I'm glad I waited a bit before posting on it because the first couple of tastings did not go well at all. I just didn't like it, I only tasted stong alcohol and not much else. But, like some other scotches, it just took me a little while to grasp fully what it's taste actually was. The problem was that I was going in expecting something like a Highland Park type of taste, but got something completely different. I would now say that the Old Pulteny's over-riding characater is a strong maltiness very similar to Longmorn 15, but instead of sweet peppermint it has a toasted bread and chocolate flavor (somewhat similar to the Dalmore), along with a mixture of tawniness somewhere between the Bowmore Dawn and the Laphroaig 10. So, the nose has slightly burned toast, aniseed, strong malt. Taste has no sherry sweetness, rather a malty sweetness upfront instead. Transitions to the toastiness and chocolate noted before. Then finishes with the tawniness. Overall it's very good stuff. Oh yes, don't dilute it at all, take it straight. Adding water destroys the balance and seriously weakens the flavors.

{edit} I'd have to say that instead of chocolate I get more of a coffee flavor, after trying it a few more times. And it's got quite a bit of vanilla in there to, so much that it reminds me a bit of a good bourbon. Burnt toast, aniseed, and strong malt flavors I still get consistently.

Royal Lochnagar 12
Been wanting to try this for a long time, finally found some last night. I have to say I'm pretty disappointed as I was expecting a really good whisky. It's not bad, but just not great. Not much nose beyond a not-very-sweet maltiness, and the flavor isn't much different than the nose. Finish also evinces very little change (perhaps a very subtle smokiness sneaks in), but it's a short finish and not particularly interesting.

Scapa 12
The "sister" distillery of Highland Park (same region, Orkney, produces both scotches). This was good stuff. Has a mouth coating, oily feel to it which is pretty cool. Has just a slight touch of sharpness, but not bad. Overall has a fairly woody/oaky flavor with just a very slight touch of heather. Not quite on par with the Highland Park stuff, but very good in it's own right.

{edit} I liked this one enough to go buy a bottle and do a head to head with my Highland Park 12. I have to say that IMO it holds it's own for overall quality. The HP is one of my favorite whisky's, and the Scapa is right there with it. The main difference seemed to be that the Scapa was a bit more smooth and full, and the HP had a bit of peat. I also picked up a bit of a pear flavor and smell in the Scapa, which combined with the honey/heather flavor and slight smoke in the background makes this a very nice scotch indeed.

Springbank 10
Bought this the other day to replace my empty bottle of Ardbeg 10. I was hoping to get most of the good qualities of the Springbank 12 but at a cheaper price ($50 instead of $70) Unfortunately, the grad qualities that the 12 year old has were notably absent. The 10 is quite immature tasting, with a lot of alcohol bite and a notable lack of smoothness. At $20 it would be a good buy, at $50 it's very poor value.

{edit} I have to revise my Springbank 10 year old - initially I was drinking it neat, and did not realize it was 92 proof instead of the more common 80 proof. For younger whiskies at higher proof, water generally helps a lot in getting the overpowering "sting" of the alcohol out of the way so the true taste of it can be enjoyed. So, a bit of water is in order. After adding a bit, then a bit more, the rough edges smoothed out nicely. Now that's the stuff! Sweet, salty, and malty. Reminds me of chocolate covered pretzels. So, with a bit of water it goes in to my strongly recommended category.

{second edit for Springbank 10} I did another tasting of this and even with the extra water, it is too young and too green tasting to fully enjoy. From now on I'm sticking with 12 or older for Springbanks. Too bad no one in Denver carries anything except the 10 year old. Bastards.

{third edit} OK, I've nearly finished this bottle, and I've had another change of heart. I've been on a kick lately where I've been really enjoying "malty" flavored scotches that don't have a heavy sherry influence, and I finally "got" this bottling. Yes, you do have to add water to it, and you definitely need to warm it with your hand (a thin glass is very helpful in doing this). Now, you are ready to enjoy it. To me it tastes like a more peaty and harder version of a Highland 12. In fact, the middle of the taste is what I would call "brittle", like peanut brittle, it has a wonderful hard texture. This is definitely not an easy scotch to love, but over time I have grown to appreciate it.


Springbank 10 - 100 proof
I really wanted to like this one, but so far it is my least favorite of the Springbanks. Even when cut with water it was too "hot" and astringent. The regular 10 year old is fairly agressive, but the 100 proof is agressive to the point of interfering with the actual taste. My advice is to stick with the regular 10 year old (which is still a pretty high avb at 92 proof).

Springbank 12 - 175th Anniversary Bottling
Of all the scotches I've tried so far, this is without question my favorite. Rich, malty, peaty, full bodied, super long smoky finish with a touch of salt at the very end. Damn. IMO, it is the perfect blend of up-front sweetness, and peaty/salty finish. Wonderfully complex, and incredibly enjoyable. Expensive but soooo worth it. Definitely top 3.

Springbank 15
The owner of Pints had just gotten this in, and bless his heart, decided to let me try a glass gratis. It has that great initial sweetness combined with the oaky middle, and that unique briny finish. Perfection. Not sure if it would knock the 12 year anniversary bottling out of my top 5, but if not, it would surely be a tie. Again, expensive, but absolutely worth it.

Strathisla 12
Very similar to the Benrinnes, but Strathisla does not have the bubblegum flavor in there. Overall this was my least favorite of the last 5 I've tried, it just didn't have much character. I guess you could say it was balanced, but the flavors were each individually so weak that it's hard to even give it props for that. It's not a "bad" whisky in the way that, say, Glenlivet 12 is, but there's better out there.

{edit} Trying this again, I'm raising my rating up a bit. Last time I had it I tried it right after a GREAT whisky, and it prevented me from fully appreciating this one. I would now say that it does have character, just not much complexity. If you want to taste what people refer to when they say a scotch is MALTY, this this is your scotch. It starts off malty, transitions to malty, and finishes malty. A straightforward style, but good quality.

Suntory 12
Technically not scotch because it is made in Japan. But I include it here for 2 reasons. 1, the japanese have duplicated "exactly" the methods that the scotts use to make whisky, and 2, it tastes almost exactly like Glen Ord. In fact, I like it a bit better than glen ord. Both are what I call a "zesty" malt, lighter with some grassiness to the taste, but the Suntory has a more rounded, highland malt type of taste. Cheap and good, I'm glad I got a chance to try it.

Talisker 10
Another one that is better without any water. Taken neat, this is firewater! Huge spicy/pepper taste with a loooong finish. Water knocks down the spiciness a lot and makes it a less distinctive experience.

Talisker 20
Definitely a Talisker! But the typical firewater/pepper flavor is mated with a more intense sherry sweetness up front, and mixed with an oaky/organic finish. Great, great whisky. Even at $200/bottle, it's worth it. I'll be picking up a bottle before too long.

Tormore 12
Very similar to Isle of Arran it almost every espect, from the citrusy nose, to the light malty middle, and the citrus potpouri finish. The only difference I could tell is that the Tormore had a little bit of a nutty flavor in the middle.

Just a quick summary so far for easy reference.

Top 12 regardless of price:
Ardbeg 1977
Clynelish 14
Springbank 12 - 175th Anniversary
Talisker 20
Mortlach 15
Bowmore 17
Macallan 25
Laphroag 10 Cask Strength
Highland Park 18
Bruichladdich 15
Longmorn 1973 - Signatory
Lagavulin 16

Best under (or around) $40
Macallan 12 - New Triangle Label
Dalmore 12
Laphroaig 10
Ardbeg 10
Glenmorangie 10
Scapa 12
Bowmore 12

Scotch Blends

Black Bottle 10
A blend of several Islay single malts with some grain whisky. Nose and taste is very similar to Laphroaig 10, with a bit extra sharp kick from the grain. Overall quite smooth and very islay in flavor. Very good, probably the best blend you can get if you like peat.

Johnnie Walker Red
Wow, this stuff is bad, really bad. Hard, harsh, and thin tasting. To be avoided, unless you drown it in coke or the like.

Johnnie Walker Black
Ah, much, much better than the red. Still a bit or harshness due to the grain whisky in there, but much fuller in flavor and much more interesting than the Red. You can definitely taste the Talisker used in the blend. Quite a good blend.

Johnnie Walker Gold
Buttery smooth and lightly sweet. Really good blend. Does this even have grain whisky in it? Of course that's a rhetorical quesion because all blends have grain whisky, but this one is so smooth and light you just don't taste it.

Cutty Sark
Egads this stuff tastes terrible. Sort of a mixture of honey and dirty gym socks. Hopefully I just had a bad batch, cause it was terrible.

Chivas Regal 12
Well, this is definitely one smooth, sweet, non-offensive whisky. But a bit boring for me, there's not character and no flavor development. Definitely better than the Johnnie Walker Red rotgut, but not as good as the Johnnie Walker Black, IMO.

Chivas Regal 18
Well, you would "think" that the 18 would be simply smoother than the 12, but it's not, in fact the 18 has more bite. And more character, and better flavor development. I'd put it on par w/the JW Black, but in a different style (Highland style) than the Black (Islay Style).

Irish Whiskey

Bushmills - No Age Statement
Egads it tastes like sweetened formaldehyde. Yuck.

Bushmills 16
Ah, much better than the standard bushmills. The initial smell and taste is a lot like a highland malt. Sherry and burnt toffee. Drinking it gives a very good smoothness, but a lack of maltiness in the flavor. There is a bit of apricot there, and it ends with a short, non-spectacular finish. Not bad at all.

Jamesons
A little fuller and less offensive than the Bushmills NAS, but still tastes like formaldehyde. It's been a while since I've had Irish Whiskey, I don't remember it being this terrible. Maybe I'm just spoiled after drinking so much Scotch.

Red Breast 12
Strong mango and passion fruit, maybe kumkwats as well on the palate. Noses a bit thin and hard, pretty alcholic, probably due to the grain in there. Finish is sharp and a little grainish. Overall the best irish whiskey I've had so far.

Bourbon

For my impressions of various bourbons, please see my Bourbon Thread.
post #2 of 630
cheers tyson!

reccomend a good scotch under 30 bones?
post #3 of 630
Thread Starter 
Under $30, the only good one I've had is the Dalmore 12.

For just over $30, there's Ardbeg 10, but it's definitely not for people new to scotch! Very peaty, smokey, and incredibly intense.
post #4 of 630
Tyson,

Excellent snapshot reviews! Your comments about the Oban and Macallan 18 are spot-on.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepkyng
reccomend a good scotch under 30 bones?
sleepkyng,

Just throw down the money for the Lagavulin. You won't be sorry.

D.
post #5 of 630
D,
you aven't steered me wrong yet!
post #6 of 630
Great post tyson, looks like I'm going shopping again


/U.
post #7 of 630
Awesome list of impressions, look foward to trying many of the listed Single Malts above.
post #8 of 630
thanks Tyson, interesting read. I'm going to give the Springbank 12 a try on your recommendation.
post #9 of 630
Thread Starter 
There's a pub about 2 miles from my house called Pint's Pub, they have about 250 bottles of scotch on tap at any given time, it's a great way to sample a lot of scotch. Saves me from buying an entire bottle and just being disappointed. But some distileries I will buy bottles "blind", like my next 2 bottles, which will be the Springbank 15 and the Laphroaig Cask Strength. Pint's doesn't have these particular ones on tap at the moment, but having tasted many scotches from each, I am certain they are worth the little bit of risk.
post #10 of 630
WOW!! An impressive display of scotch!! Thanks very much.

I really enjoy Oban, but I'm a bit of a savage...I drink it neat, or occasionally on the rocks. I'm encouraged that one with such a depth of knowledge on the subject finds it to be so solid a choice.
post #11 of 630
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyson
...the Laphroaig Cask Strength...
You can look forward to that one if you like the 10yo.


/U.
post #12 of 630
I usually don't buy scotch but for special occasions. When I do I like Lagavoulin. It has a very distinct peaty flavor that a lot of people don't like. It's a love/hate thing, but without a doubt my favorite scotch whiskey. Glenmorangie 18yr port wood is another favorite, but quite expensive. It's my best friend's favorite so we usually drink that together.

I don't agree that adding water improves the flavor. Once you get used to the potency of strong liquor there's no going back. I usually like a cube of ice to bring it slightly above room temp. To each their own though... if it helps you discern the different flavors and adds enjoyment I'm all for it. Just don't tell me you put it in Coke.

<edit> in the <$30 category nothing touches Aberlour IMO
Cheers
post #13 of 630
Thread Starter 
A few more scotches added to the list today.
post #14 of 630
I just finished off some Cask Strength Bowmore 45 (Peerless Bottling). Most amazing Scotch I ever tasted, hands down.
post #15 of 630
I polished off a bottle of 1980 Knockando the other night and the hangover was quite pleasant compared to a blended scotch......

The next morning my urine was golden and opaque instead of thick and treacly and I was able to eat a full english breakfast (bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, fried bread, black pudding and mushrooms) without heaving up.

This is a class malt.

Pinkie.
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