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Old 09-27-2010, 06:46 PM   #1
ghart999
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Default How to get into Scotch?

Newbie Scotch drinker here. I know nothing about it other than the distillation process, etc. I have tried a few and am slightly beginning to gain an appreciation for it. However, I don't know what I like and what I don't.

For a pure beginner here, recommend a decent single malt that's not too harsh, of decent quality and reasonable price. By price, I would say no more than $30/bottle.

Also how should I drink, with water, ice? Again I know nothing. I have some brandy sniffers, wine glasses and Belgian beer flutes. Of those, what is preferred or do I need to go buy a nice Scotch glass? Thanks all.

Gregg


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Old 09-27-2010, 06:49 PM   #2
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For anything, you pretty much just go to the store and buy whatever you haven't tried or what catches your eye in your price point. Lots of stores have a sample section too. So, take advantage of that when you can. and try it everyway until you find what you like. Neat, watered, iced, with soda, whatever.

I have tried just about every sctoch sample my stores carry and guess what I found out?

I hate Scotch.


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Old 09-27-2010, 06:53 PM   #3
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I would suggest that you start out with some blended scotches and with a little ice and/or water. The ice and water will help detract away from some of the harshness of the alcohol and let you notice flavors you normally probably wouldn't have. Over time you may want to reduce the water or ice.
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:53 PM   #4
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under $30 a bottle for single malt? not really much there

I think Johnny Walker Black is about $30. decent blend.

how you take it is up to you. i personally like neat with a splash of room temp bottled water. out of your glass selection, i'd use a snifter, but i'm not exactly sure what you mean by a "belgian beer flute". that might work fine.
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:57 PM   #5
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So maybe start blended. Makes sense. Someone have me a bottle of Johnny Walker Gold about 6 years ago. It was opened and tried back then and I hated it. Would it still be good having been opened?

What other blended scotch would be decent in the $30 range. Also how much water are we talking here. A few drops?
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:17 PM   #6
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i've never had the gold. actually the only blends i've had are Black and Chivas Regal. Chivas is disgusting.

you could probably pick up a bottle of Glenlivet for under $30. Otherwise I'd recommend The Macallan if you don't like peat, Talisker or Laphroag if you do.

also, this guy is pretty interesting:
http://www.maltmaniacs.org/
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:24 PM   #7
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I LOVE Macallan 12. Its about $45 a bottle...but its so, so, so good.

Three fingers of Macallan 12 over 2 ice cubes. Heaven. Add a good cigar....oh man.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:29 PM   #8
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Welcome to Scotch! I think I can be of assistance. As a brief introduction, there are basically 4 regions of scotch, highland, lowland, islay, and Campbletown. Each has their own general characteristics: ie: highland tend to be more peaty than lowland, islay will frequently have a seaweed/seasalt character to them. Campbletown is the smallest production area. The highland scotches tend to be more available than many of the other areas. Most scotches should have their region identified on the lable. If you're interested the internet provides a wealth of information on these regions.

A great introductory single malt, in my opinion, is Auchentoshan. Their basic single malt 750 is usally around the $25 mark, though I've seen it as low as $19. It's a lowland scotch. For highland, the basic 750 single malt glenlivet or glenfiddich can typically be procured in the $25 range as well. I see you are in Denver, me too. Davidson's, Argonaut, and Tipseys should all offer a strong selection of single malt scotches in the below $40 range.

Personally, I'd stay away from the blended scotches if what you're wanting to do is begin your single malt appreciation and education. Blended scotch has an entirely different character than single malt, and frequently blended scotch costs as much if not more that many single malts. Not that there's anything wrong with blended, some of them are just delicious, but I just caution to keep your goal of what you're trying to do in mind.

For service, you can choose to take your scotch a couple of ways. Neat means no ice and generally no water, though note "cask strength" scotch should always be served with some water. There is no specific glass for scotch, but a standard tumbler (if serving on ice) or a snifter (neat) are my suggestions. For water about 1/2 tsp to 2 oz of scotch is about right, though make sure the water is of good quality free of chlorine or anything that could inhibit the scotch. The theory is the water (in small quantities) opens up the scotch and allows for better presentation of the aromatics.

My personal preference is neat, no water, but experiment and find out what you like.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghart999 View Post
Also how should I drink, with water, ice? Again I know nothing. I have some brandy sniffers, wine glasses and Belgian beer flutes. Of those, what is preferred or do I need to go buy a nice Scotch glass? Thanks all.
One at a time:

1) Do not ice or dilute (unless drinking a cask strength). Neat is the way to appreciate a good scotch. Anything that requires ice to be able to tolerate is not worth ole Randar's time or the calories. Tasting it neat will allow you to actually taste and smell the full character of the whiskey. Icing it just hides aspects of the whiskey that are otherwise lacking.

2) Snifter is the best of the bunch you list. I picked up a set of dedicated scotch glasses but I am dumb like that. (quick tips: http://www.cocktailtimes.com/diction....tasting.shtml)

Do you like Scotch or are you just trying to see if you do? Do you like Earthy, peat, smoke type of flavors and aromas? If not, it might not be worth it to even bother trying.

Skip the Cutty Sark, Dewars, etc. If you are going to try blends, go with the Chivas or Johnny Walker. Personally, when I was getting into it I would try a few single malts from the various regions and narrow in on what you like. I personally hate the Lowland and am ambivalent towards many of the of the Highland scotches. Islay, Speyside, and whiskeys from Skye and Okney islands are where it is at for me.

If you want to try some nice "reasonable" bottles of single malt, Bowmore 12 used to be on sale for around 30-35 bucks and that is about the best value bottle around if you can get it at that price. If you are comparing to full price ($45 near me), I prefer Macallan 12. Bruichladdich is also one of my favorite and has a 12 yr in the same range. I love the Bruichladdich 15, just an amazing mouthfeel and vanilla notes that just coat your tongue.

Other favorites of mine that I usually try to snag at the Heathrow Duty Free on my 2x yearly trips: Highland Park, Talisker, & Lagavulin. Laphroaig is not for the faint of heart, so you may wish to "get around" before getting into that one.


You may also be able to find liquor stores in your area doing Scotch tastings. Ask around and get a designated driver!
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:36 PM   #10
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I forgot to mention that Bull and Bush frequently has scotch tastings there and another GREAT place in Denver to explore without committing to the purchase of a whole bottle is Pint's Pub. It has the largest selection of single malt scotch outside of scotland, with per glass (about 4 oz) prices ranging from around $4 - several hundred dollars. Pints is located by the art museum. They offer a "tour of scotland" with a smaller pour of scotch from each region for around $20 and the majority of the bartenders are very knowledgable about the different kinds of scotch.


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