View Full Version : My First Impressions of Some Recommended Scotches

09-28-2002, 11:33
I'm just checking in so that those of you who generously offered advice will know that I've put some of it to good use.

Famous Grouse -- I like it, and I can't identify any flavor component. It's not flowery, grassy, smokey, mediciney, woody, or any of the words I've seen others use. It has a very gentle, somewhat darkly (?) sweet taste that is faintly similar to black rye bread after I've chewed it awhile. Could I be tasting the flavor of actual malt, a la malted milkshake?

Johnnie Walker black -- It's a little more demanding than Famous Grouse, certainly not as sweet, and a fuller, slightly mediciney taste. The taste reminded me of the scene in Mr. Roberts where the lads are trying to create scotch from readily available ingredients on board a Navy ship. Someone suggests adding one drop of iodine, after which they all agree that they've succeeded in duplicating the taste of scotch.

Macallan 12 -- Am I dreaming or do I really taste sherry from the aging casks? Stronger flavor than the FG, but perhaps gentler than JW and lacking its mediciney flavor. I liked the 50 ml. bottle well enough to buy a 750 for further exploration.

Glendronach 15 -- One 50 ml.bottle is not enough to get familiar with this one. I think someone suggested a direct comparison with Mac 12. I don't get the similarity. No sherry taste that I can detect, and considerably lighter, with noticeable oak (as in chardonnay, not Russell's Reserve).

On the shelf now, but not yet tasted:

Teachers Highland Cream
Dalmore 12
Glenlivet 12
Glenfiddich 12
Sheep Dip (I bought this one for my son's girlfriend, who likes collectibles with a sheep theme. I won't get a taste of it unless she decides to open the bottle rather than just display it. Should I include some tasting glasses as a hint? http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif )

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

09-29-2002, 09:21
>Macallan 12 -- Am I dreaming or do I really taste sherry from the aging casks?

Yes, you most certainly do. Personally, I think the Macallan 12 is "over-sherried",
and it's not something I can drink very often (even though I have a bottle...).
Some people love it, but it's just not for me.

I have tried the Macallan 18, which I do like, but the 12 just has too much of
a sherry influence for me.

(The famous scotch/beer writer Michael Jackson thinks that the Macallan
is the best thing on earth... I most definitely disagree.)


09-29-2002, 18:21
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
(The famous scotch/beer writer Michael Jackson thinks that the Macallan
is the best thing on earth... I most definitely disagree.)


I can tell you this much...I've read some of Mr. Jacksons bourbon tasting notes and he's more properly employed as a Scotch and beer taster. Not that the man hasn't got a clue, but that one clue he's got has worn thin and ragged around the edges. When it comes to good/bad bourbon I think he resorts to coin tossing. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smirk.gif

09-29-2002, 19:40
I am glad you like the Macallan...one of my favorites. As with bourbon or anything consumed...everybody has a different reaction to tastes. I happen to enjoy the extra sherry flavors in the 12 yr...but compare that to a smokey Islay and you can have completely different preferences. I like them all...at different times. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif

10-01-2002, 14:27
With each drink of Famous Grouse (at hand right now) or Johnnie Walker black label (with the late news last night), I find that I like the former a bit less and the latter a bit more.

I hardly trust my own senses any more (especially after my total failure on Linn's homework assignment -- the blind tasting of four bourbons), but I think the FG is a bit more aromatic than the JW; however, it fades and/or changes on the palate, and even more so in the finish. The JW seems to carry on seamlessly from first nose to the last hint of warming in the esophagus. I can foresee that at some point JW may become my preference of the two. (If I continue to prefer the cheaper of the two, that wouldn't be a disappointment.)

I still haven't tried them head-to-head, and after my aforementioned blind-tasting experience I am somewhat afraid to.

At the moment I still enjoy both of them, and (uncharacteristically) I am in no hurry to open any of my recently acquired, modest assortment of single malts. In fact, I may decide to spend quite a bit more time with blends, including the as yet unopened Teacher's, before I move on.

As I think back to my experience with my small assortment of 50 ml bottles, I am surprised that the blends are as full-flavored as they are. I expected much less. My memory tells me that Famous Grouse is as flavorful (as in strength, not necessarily pleasure) as the Glendronach 15 or the Cardhu 12, but not as intense as Macallan 12.

As days go by I find that drinking scotch is taking on a different quality. What I used to call "wimpy" is magically being transformed to "subtle". The experience is similar to the way my taste in pipe tobacco changed during the last ten years that I smoked.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

10-31-2002, 12:12
Last night I finished my first bottle of Famous Grouse. I decided to stick with the lower-priced blends; so I opened the Teacher's Highland Cream.

The word "cream" in the name probably had me expecting the flavors to be even richer and smoother than the FG. I found the oppposite.

Although my palate was dulled by the two large pours of FG, the Teacher's definitely had a spicier effect on the palate, and even more so at the finish. It reminded me ever-so-slightly of Cardhu 12, which I've only sampled (50 ml's worth). Like the Cardhu, Teacher's seemed to be too much icing and not enough cake, the basic flavors overwhelmed by what should be seasonings.

I happened to notice an age statement on the bottle. It's a whopping 36 months. Isn't that damning with faint praise? Why bother to print such a meager age on the label?

Needless to say, these are merely first impressions, and they will undoubtedly change with more time and experience.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

11-30-2002, 17:24
Tasting this single malt for the very first time on an afternoon when I've already drunk a half-shot each of Famous Grouse and Teacher's Highland Cream is probably not going to allow me to taste it fairly. Who said I'm fair?

After I removed the bottle from the hoity-toity box (why do they do that?) marked "$19.99 Trader Joe's", I noticed that the label displays a statement I've never seen before "Aged only [emphasis mine] in Oak Casks". Are other woods used to make aging casks? If so are they ever used to age whisk(e)y? (Not that I'm aware of.) Does the capitalization indicate some added meaning, as, for example a trademark of a particular cooperage? (I wouldn't think so. Don't all of their casks come from whiskey distilleries in the U.S.A.?)

Setting aside the irony of drinking scotch from a glass that bears the legend, "Evan Williams SINGLE BARREL VINTAGE", I raise glass to nose and sniff. Did I forget to pour the scotch? This is quite delicate compared to the two blends I was sampling earlier. It lacks the Connecticut cigar-leaf aroma of Famous Grouse and the spicey fragrance of Teacher's Highland Cream.

The taste on the palate is still very light, a little sweet and fruity, and only slightly spicey. At the second sip I notice a flavor akin to Virginia pipe tobacco, naturally cured to a deep brown. Later I notice oak flavor, like Chardonnay, not Wild Turkey. (Do you suppose they scrape out the char layer before they reuse the barrels?)

The finish has much more substance than I first expected. After the first sip it grows to a peak at about five to ten seconds. On subesquent sips the peaking effect is no longer noticeable. A slightly smokey oakiness fades very gracefully to a gentle sweetness (Kiwi fruit? banana?) that seems as though it might last forever.

I recall reading a review that said something like "Ignore The Glenlivet at your peril", which seemed odd at the time. Now I appreciate that comment. At first The Glenlivet seems as though it's a lightweight whisky. However, it doesn't take long for its charm to emerge, albeit very subtley. The next time I'm in the mood for scotch, this is likely to be the one I reach for.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

11-30-2002, 18:09
Regarding your question, "Don't all of their casks come from whiskey distilleries in the USA?", the answer is that Scotch distillers use a lot of Bourbon casks, but use others as well. Macallan for one, uses only Spanish oak casks, that have previously been used for aging Sherry. Glenmorangie uses European oak that also was used with sherry, but also with port and madeira. I've read that Glenmorangie will also buy casks, then lease them to a bourbon producer, and after housing bourbon they get them back for their use.

In terms of your question regarding the use of other woods for aging, Michael Jackson states in his "Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch" that "In theory, all Scotch whisky is aged in oak. In practice, a cask made from chestnut or mahogany very occasionally turns up in a distillery".

Regarding your question about scraping out the char layer before reusing, I've also read that some Scotch distilleries use a variety of techniques to rejuvenate old casks. One technique involved re-charring the cask. Another techinque was to scrape the inside of the cask in order to expose new wood to the whisky, but the cask would then be recharred. In case anyone is interested, this info comes from "Appreciating Whisky" by Phillip Hills. It's got some pretty good info in it. Hope this helped.


11-30-2002, 23:04
The Glenlivet is often dished by Single Malt buffs as the "Budweiser of Malts," but I have heard in blind tastings it does quite well. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/shocked.gif I certainly think it is a decent malt, and it was the first one I ever bought over 20 years ago. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/cool.gif

I don't own it (the 12yo) now for the same reason I don't own Knob Creek. They are so available in bars. It's nice to know when I'm out, I can order something I like but don't have at home. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif

I currently have the Glenlivet French Oak which I prefer to the standard. The NEW French Oak gives it a very distinctive taste as otherwise Scotch uses almost exclusively USED casks. I also have a cask strength 20yo bottling by Cadenhead that should certainly silence those who say Glenlivet doesn't have enough guts. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif

12-10-2002, 07:47
I have just gone through a pc crash...so, Dude, I got a Dell! Now that I am back up and running...The Glenlivet 12 is a very nice to drink Scotch...pleasant taste, some interesting flavors...along with Glenfiddich, this was one of my first Scotches...I still enjoy both...sort of like choosing a Pinot Grigio rather than a Cabernet..there is a time and a place for each.

02-18-2003, 16:25
I revisited this one this afternoon, prompted in part by a disquieting experience last night with one of my stated favorite bourbons -- but that doesn't belong in this forum.

It's been months since I last drank any scotch, much less Teacher's, and I was surprised at how tasty and satisfying I found it this time. There's definitely not much in the way of complexity here, just your basic scotch flavor without the iodine, smoke, seaweed, and other influences commonly associated with scotch. In addtion, I still get a mildly raw quality at the finish, more like a tingle really, that seems to numb the mouth and lips beyond what I would expect. If there's such a thing as "blue collar, authentic scotch", I'd say this is it. I hereby recant my previous description "too much icing, not enough cake" as misleading. This is all cake, but it's like Angel Food with a dash of black pepper on top.

Nevertheless, I am now on my second glass (neat, Glencairn blending glass) this afternoon. What I intended as some combination of redirection and penance has turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable.

Now I'm faced with a delightful quandary. The next time I break out a bottle of whisk(e)y, will it be one of the other scotch blends (e.g., Famous Grouse or Johnnie Walker Black Label) that I liked rather more than Teacher's a while back, or will I give Jimmy's namesake another chance to remind me why I once called it my Numero Uno in the "Best Buy Bourbon" category?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

02-18-2003, 19:55
&gt;If there's such a thing as "blue collar, authentic scotch", I'd say this is it.

I love that sentence and I really enjoyed your post!

Note to the reader: prepare yourself for opinionated overgeneralizations!
Here goes:

I think it's true that in America, most scotch is sold to pretentious snobby jerks
who don't know anything about whisk/e/y, but think that they do. I also think
it's true that most bourbon is sold to the common man who doesn't know
anything about whisk/e/y, and that doesn't bother him at all... as a matter of
fact, if the drink is a little rough, all the better.

The difference between scotch and bourbon is as much a cultural one as
it is about taste. Bourbon is for the authentic, blue collar man. Scotch is for
the white collar dufus with no soul. Thus says the American consumer.

(apologies for stating the obvious)


02-18-2003, 20:16
Amen. While in WV recently, I bought a few bottles of some expensive stuff that I can't get here in NC (Elmer T. Lee SB, Evan Williams Millenium, the Fox, Sazerac Rye) at a good sized store in Charleston, WV, the capital. Wouldn't you know that the Sazerac and the Fox didn't have prices and the girl at the counter couldn't find them in her book.

When I went to the register, no one was in line, but, while I was waiting for them to tell me what I owed them, a few people backed up behind me. I looked at them and apologized, saying that none of the bottles on the shelf for those two labels were marked.

The guy behind me, with the work of many hard years showing on this face, had a bottle of Early Times in the plastic bottle. I know this man deserved a drink more than I did.

As the girl went to find the prices from the manager, I took matters into my own hands and looked the prices up in the book at her register. Poor thang couldn't understand that rye whiskey was a separate category. Judging by where she left the book open, she was wasting her time in the blended price list.

I quickly resolved the issue, called her back and cringed as the total was $127 for four bottles. Yes, I felt guilty and imagined/feared the cold stare of the patrons in line behind me. I know that I am overplaying this guilt thing. The folks behind probably didn't give a rat's a** what I paid for what as long as they could get their own goods paid for and get on their way home!

02-19-2003, 07:04
"The difference between scotch and bourbon is as much a cultural one as
it is about taste. Bourbon is for the authentic, blue collar man. Scotch is for
the white collar dufus with no soul."

I'm sorry, Tim, but I disagree. There are plenty of "authentic, blue collar" men (and women) in America (and especially Scotland) who drink scotch. Yes, quality scotch costs more than quality bourbon, but that has more to do with the incredibly high taxes distillers pay in the UK and the import duties and taxes imposed on scotch coming into the US, than it does on "pricing it for snobs." And, let's not forget, most "authentic, blue collar" men are not drinking Booker's, Blanton's or Pappy Van Winkle 20yo; they're most likely drinking Ten High, Jim Beam White Label and (America's other favorite "bourbon") Jack Daniels. Just as with single malt scotch, high-end bourbons are drunk by, for the most part, either (1) enthusiasts like us, (2) folks who like an occasional drink and can afford the good stuff, or (3) status seekers.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If you don't like scotch, fine. I never argue about personal taste. But, just because one person don't like a particular style of whiskey doesn't give that person the right to make sweeping generalizations about those who do enjoy it. I happen to enjoy scotch very much, as much as I do bourbon (and Irish whiskey, for that matter). I do not consider myself to be a "snobby jerk" nor a "white collar dufus with no soul." I work both a full-time job and a part-time job to support my family (and my whiskey "hobby").

It's funny. I read a number of scotch-related boards on the Web and I've never seen a scotch drinker--even if he hates bourbon--put down bourbon drinkers. If anything, it's those bourbon drinkers who constantly put down scotch drinkers that come off sounding like snobby jerks.

And that's a shame, because most folks (including Tim) who contribute to this board strike me as being pretty decent people, people I would like to share time with over a bottle of good whiskey. I think it would be a good idea for all of us to keep in mind that taste preferences are a personal thing and cannot be argued, and that making generalizations about those who don't see things our way says more about us than those we disagree with.

Excuse me while I climb down from my soapbox.


02-19-2003, 09:21
I'm in agreement with most all of what you say here John, so I suppose this reply is really an addendum.

For many folks, the term "bourbon" conjurs up images of biker gangs, David Lee Roth leaping across the stage with his ass cheeks hanging out of his pants, and so forth ... you get the point. One could assert that in order to achieve the status and following the scotch industry has, the bourbon industry would need to shed it's "bad boy" image.

I feel that rather they should play this image up. Harley Davidson has done it with tremendous success. At least here in the SF bay area, there are huge numbers of brand new Harleys being driven by white color types who desperately want an element of the outlaw in their lives. The local Harley shop has a waiting list.

I'm not in any hurry to see Microsoft producing bourbon, but I believe that the baby boomers in particular have money to spend on bourbon ... they just need to be convinced it will advance their social status, and perhaps increase their virility http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif

02-19-2003, 10:03
&gt;&gt;"The difference between scotch and bourbon is as much a cultural one as
&gt;&gt;it is about taste. Bourbon is for the authentic, blue collar man. Scotch is for
&gt;&gt;the white collar dufus with no soul."

&gt;I'm sorry, Tim, but I disagree. There are plenty of "authentic, blue collar" men
&gt;...who drink scotch.

It's funny, I when I was proofreading my post, I thought to myself "why am
I writing this?" And I decided that I should post it because I was just so
taken with the Dave Morefield (bluesbassdad)'s line:

If there's such a thing as "blue collar, authentic scotch", I'd say this is it.

That line just crystallized for me the huge cultural gap that exists between
bourbon drinkers and scotch drinkers. So I dashed out two paragraphs.

In the first paragraph, I said that most people who buy whisk/e/y aren't educated
consumers with highly developed palates. Which I think is true. Talking
to people at liquor stores, duty free shops, even at Whiskey Fest (see
footnote for amusing anecdote), I'm convinced of this. It used to upset
me, but now it makes my happy: all of these people are keeping the high
end spirits market in business! Without them, the great whiskies I love
wouldn't exist!

In my second paragraph, I'm sorry I wasn't clear enough. I ended
the paragraph with "Thus says the American consumer." The stereotypes
of bourbon and scotch drinkers that I outlined are not *my* beliefs. They
are the beliefs of the people whose beliefs matter: those who do most
of the buying.

One of the things that all whisk/e/y lovers have to confront is that the
business is marketing-driven. Image is everything. The people who
do most of the buying are doing so based on image. It is inescapable.

I didn't mean to bash scotch drinkers or bourbon drinkers, or to put
anyone down. I'm a scotch drinker! As a matter of fact, I have more
scotch than I have bourbon! My post was merely my was of trying
to elucidate the cultural gap between "most" bourbon drinkers and
"most" scotch drinkers. It's my feeling that anyone who appreciates
great whiskies is in the (ignorable from a marketing and product
development standpoint) minority.

&gt;And that's a shame, because most folks (including Tim) who contribute to this
&gt;board strike me as being pretty decent people, people I would like to share time
&gt;with over a bottle of good whiskey.

I feel the same way. If anyone here ever finds themselves in the unfortunate
position of being in central Illinois, they're certainly welcome to come over to my
house. We'll drink whisk/e/y and listen to old 78s all night.


Footnote regarding WhiskeyFest:
Here's my favorite line: a guy is at the Jamison table talking to an Irish girl with the
most charming accent you've ever heard, drinking a delightfully light, high-end
Jamison bottling, and after listening to the girl give her little two minute
talk, he asks,"Is this bourbon?" I about died.

02-19-2003, 18:39
That reminds me of the day last fall when I found my Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. I had not been able to get it at my suburban ABC store. I work downtown, so one day I decided to see if I could find it at a downtown ABC store.

I couldn't find any on the shelves, but I decided if I was already there, I might as well ask for it. Sure enough, they had some in the store room. She told me to get in line, wait my turn, and when it was my turn she would go back and get it.

There were two lines, each about eight customers deep. All hard working, fairly poor people. When I got to the front, I asked how much each bottle was, and it was $38 each. I asked for two bottles. Everybody was looking at me, but they were all nice. I was very self-conscious, though.

BTW, there are hardly ever even eight customers in the entire store where I usually go. Business is hopping downtown (for cheap vodka, gin, etc).


02-19-2003, 18:47
Okay, I am not trying to generalize, here, but has anyone else noticed the "Balvenie guy" ads? I see them several times a week in the Wall Street Journal. They are purposely playing up to an upper-class, life of leisure snob image to sell their various hooty snooty scotches. I.e., Double Wood, Port Wood, 21-yr old, etc.

That said, I would like to try some of their scotch. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif


02-19-2003, 21:31
I've never felt self conscious at the places that I buy liquor from. Sometimes the checkout girls are taken aback, but generally they see the stuff flying out the doors all day. The biggest haul I made on a particular one and I got 8 at once, about $ 312.00 . No one gave it a second notice. I think the oddest look I got was when I bought a bottle of 20Y Hirsch. When I bought a Pappy 23 it was no different to the clerk if I had got a Pepsi and a Clark Bar.

02-20-2003, 07:42
--They are purposely playing up to an upper-class, life of leisure snob image to sell their various hooty snooty scotches.--

I don't know if they are aiming for a "snob image," but they are playing up to those in the higher income brackets. As they should. After all, who are the ones buying bottles that cost $30 and up? The answer (again): (1) whisky enthusiasts; (2) those who have the cabbage to afford "the good stuff"; and (3) status seekers. Why should Balvenie waste its time and money targeting those in lower income brackets when such consumers don't buy $30 bottles of whisky?

And, let's be honest: aren't bourbon producers using a similar strategy to sell their single-barrel and small batch bottlings? Aren't they, too, trying to reach those in upper income brackets by projecting the image of their bourbon as part of an upper-class, leisurely lifestyle? Of course they are. They want their high-end whiskeys to have the same cachet as single malt scotch. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I'm concerned.

And, Tim, do try Balvenie. The produce some very nice malts. The 10yo is pretty good and the 15yo single barrel can be very good (although I had some 15yo that reminded me of wet wool--blaaa!) My favorite Balvenie is the Double Wood 12yo. It's aged in old bourbon casks for most of its maturation, then is finished in old sherry casks for about 8 months or so. It is very, very good. I've also tried their 21yo port wood finish. It, too, is quite good, but I thought the wine notes were too prominent and overshadowed the Balvenie "character" a wee bit. Still, all are worth at least trying.


02-20-2003, 13:07
Just a footnote or two to my earlier comments:

Last night I didn't notice anything that I would call a "medicine" taste.

Compared to the Teacher's Highland Cream that I drank the day before, the JW is fuller, richer, and less lively on the palate and at the finish. The finish is much more persistent (and consistent) as well.

The most remarkable thing I noticed is the distinct aroma of gingerbread. I was drinking from my Glencairn taster's glass, filled to just below the fattest part of the bowl, and I was sniffing from an inch or two away from the top of the glass. I found that the distance was critical in detecting this aroma.

Finally, as I sat, sniffed, and sipped, I couldn't help but notice the elegance of the JW Black Label bottle and how it conveys a very different image than the Teacher's bottle, with its stark label. I don't want to fire up the "blue collar" discussion again, but it's pretty clear to me that the JW is aimed at a different consumer, one who may well be a connoiseur of fine whisky, but who also wants to make sure that even the uninitiated will know it when they look at his liquor shelf.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

02-20-2003, 14:17

I can appreciate the fact that you try other whiskys, other than bourbon, and there are a few scotchs that I am very fond of-Johnny Walker Black is an excellent scotch but is not my favorite by any means. I am particularly fond of Abelour 21 YO, port finished, and A'bunadh, and of course McCallan. All ranges of these suit me just fine. I think I will give you a toast as I am drinking A'bunadh right now! There is times when nothing will do but a wee little dram of scotch. But having said that I must be honest with you, bourbon has them all beat, hands down.


02-20-2003, 14:30

A while back I had 17 people visiting from Scotland and let me tell you, you couldn't get them to drink scotch if you held a gun on them. All they wanted was bourbon and they could not imagine why bourbon is not advertised any more than it is. One other thing I noticed, when they started drinking bourbon it seemed to me they moved up a notch. They also found out they got a "litte tipsy" a lot quicker.


02-20-2003, 17:29
One too many drinks-my apologies- I meant to say Balvene instead of Abelour on my last post. OH!!!!!!!!!BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!Life sure gets confusing after a few drinks, while thinking of one and drinking another.


02-21-2003, 07:37
Speedy John,
Balvenie Double Wood is a very good Single Malt. It has a very nice flavor profile. It's the only product from Balvenie that I've tried thus far tho.


02-21-2003, 07:48
Marvin and Dave,

I think that any of the Single Malts have all of the blends beat by a mile! When I first started drinking Scotch, I drank blends, especially Johnnie Walker Red and Black. Once I tried Single Malts, there was no going back. I just find that the Singles provide a variety of interesting taste profiles that the blends lack, in my opinion. Whether it's Macallan, Springbank, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bowmore (I love Islay whiskies!), Aberlour, Dalmore, Talisker...well, you get the picture. If you like (love) Scotch, go for the Singles! http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/cool.gif

These Singles, I think compare with the best of Bourbons. We observe, and seek, the wonderful flavors of the best Bourbons. I also do that with Single Malts. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smirk.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif


02-21-2003, 11:39
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
There is times when nothing will do but a wee little dram of scotch. But...bourbon has them all beat...


Couldn't agree with you more Marvin. I've lately been enjoying wee drams of Bowmore 12 yr., Glenmorangie 10 yr., and Black Bush Irish. I was purposefully avoiding bourbon for several days to accommodate more carefully my palate to foreign whisk(e)y.

But then a couple of nights ago I poured a big glass of Knob Creek and, after the first sip, I almost broke into a Kentucky fit! Knob Creek has sort of dropped out of my list of favorites as of late but, after drinking the Irish and Scotch, there was no mistaking the rich power of this small batch bourbon. Straight bourbon whiskey is still the best.

Btw, that Bowmore is gonna take some getting used to. It's my first Islay malt. And from what I've heard, it's one of the milder, more balanced of the Islay varieties. Wow, if this is mild, I'm almost afraid to venture toward Ardbeg or Lagavulin. Call me a peat novice....I find the Bowmore interesting but it will probably need to grow on me a little more.


02-21-2003, 11:52
I think that Bowmore 12 YO actually has quite a bit of peat influence. I'm looking back on some of my tasting notes that I have for it and I noted that the aroma has lots of peat. Flavors included peat (of course), salt, honey and citrus. I think it has a smooth, fairly long finish.

After you get acclimated to the peat flavors, I recommend Lagavulin or Laphroaig more than Ardbeg. Also, Bowmore has lots of different varieties, all of which are good (except Legend). Ardbeg is somewhat expensive, and the quality of their products diminished when they were sold in the mid-70's. Don't get me wrong, I still like Ardbeg, but I think the other 2 are better (IMHO).


02-21-2003, 12:10
Bob, thanks for the info. Yes, the impressions I get from Bowmore are almost identical to yours.

Certain comments I read here on this forum or elsewhere led me to believe that Bowmore was a moderate Islay malt. That's why I decided to initiate myself with it. But it's actually good to see some strong peat influence in this bottle. All this talk about Islay malts has got me curious and I know that acquiring a taste for them will definitely be a challenge.


02-21-2003, 13:16
If I remember correctly, Lagavulin was the first single malt that I tasted. I immediately loved the flavors. One of the things that I also noted, was that although strong in flavor, there was no harshness. Very smooth. That has been a big criteria for me with single malts, and bourbon. Good flavors, and smooth. Strong is fine, I don't like the burn. Stagg is a great example of a very strong bourbon, but it's SOOOO smooth, it's amazing. Keep on exploring the Islays. If you like the Bowmore, I think you'll like trying others from Islay. Let us know what else you try, and what you think.


02-21-2003, 21:32
Sort of like blurting out an old girlfriend's name in the heat of passion....oops! http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smirk.gif

04-01-2003, 17:33
This afternoon started with my attempt to free up some space on the kitchen liquor shelf by polishing off my J.W. Black Label. It took two bar-sized pours to finish that bottle, and afterwards I felt strangely unsatisfied.

As I eyed the Famous Grouse, I recalled that someone had mentioned that Highland Park is one of the malts in FG. I just so happened to have a bottle of Highland Park 12 in the back closet; so I decided to open it.

Although my taster may be a bit dull after the two drinks of JW, my first impression of the Highland Park is that it has the most intense flavor, without being weird, of any malt I've tried so far (not a large number). There's no domination by sherry, seaweed, or iodine, or peat -- just a yummy flavor that I presume comes from the malted barley. Indeed, it reminds me of Famous Grouse, but turned up a few notches.

HP 12 is the first non-weird (pardon the phrase, but you know what I'm trying to say) scotch that has the intensity of flavor that I associate with bourbon, at least one from the milder end of the spectrum.

I'm already looking foward to trying this one again with a fresh palate, but it will have to wait at least a couple of days. I'm committed to bourbon for tomorrow, and I'm thinking about doing a side-by-side with my two expressions of Hirsch.

Oh, and that space I was trying to free up? It's now occupied by Highland Park 12.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

04-02-2003, 07:27
Highland Park is one of my favorite distilleries. You're right when you say there is no domination by any single flavor element. In fact, it is the balance of all those elements that makes HP such a terrific malt whisky. Michael Jackson has dubbed HP the "great all-arounder", and I agree. Spend some time with this malt and you will notice all the flavor elements you mentioned...and more. If you ever have the chance, treat yourself to some HP 18yo. Or, if you hit the lottery, try the HP 25yo or (my fave HP OB) the "Bicentennary" 21yo. Yum, yum.

As a side note, I have some HP 23yo/57% bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It is one of my all-time favorite whiskies. The interesting thing about this bottling is that it is from a single bourbon cask (whereas HP12, 18yo, etc. contain whisky aged in both bourbon and sherry casks). Without the sherry cask influence, the peatiness of HP really shines through, almost (but not quite) at the level of the Islay heavyweights. A fascinating and delicious study of the differences resulting from types of casks used and the marriage of different casks.


04-07-2003, 17:20
Didn't I read somewhere that HP has heather mixed in with the peat for malting? I haven't had it for a long time but remember a distinct heather honey note.

Ralph Wilps

04-08-2003, 06:00
According to HP's own website, there is "the odd clump of heather" that gets mixed into the peat used for drying the malt. Whether intentionally done or not is not clear. They claim to use young peat--only the top and middle layers--and thus it would not be surprising to find in the mix heather which has not decomposed. In any case, it contributes to the production of one terrific malt whisky.


04-22-2003, 15:18
As you note, Bowmore is more moderately peated than say Ardebeg, Lagavulin or Laphroig, but this is less obvious in the younger bottlings. Age tends to have a very moderating effect on the peat sensation in many malts. Bowmore 21 was the first Islay I ever had. It was only one of about three whiskies I ever found "addictive" (Stagg being another). It had a peaty chocolatiness that was irresistable to me. I always savour my drinks, but I had to concentrate to not finish each dram within a few minutes!

04-23-2003, 05:26
Agreed, John, that Bowmore 21 is an outstanding whisky. I have spent several evenings dramming it head-to-head with the 17yo, struggling mightily to decide which is superior. A clash of titans, if you will. In the end, I'd have to say the 21yo suits my tastes ever-so-slightly better than the 17yo....at least, on most nights http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smirk.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif


10-17-2003, 18:37
I've posted scattered mentions of this bottling in several threads; I really have nothing new to say now, but I decided to mention The Macallan 12 here in this thread, just for the sake of symmetry.

I'm just this very minute finishing my first bottle. I suspect it will be my last. I know there must be some scotch flavors in there somewhere, but they are covered by the sherry influence like a Dachshund under a horse blanket. There's nothing really unpleasant about it, but it seems totally one-dimensional to me. If I want sherry, I'll buy sherry.

I must be in a minority in my regard for this bottling. The label brags on and on about the wonders of aging scotch in sherry casks. I'm sorry; I just don't get it.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

10-18-2003, 07:41
The problem you are having with Macallan, you will probably find with many other "best-selling" Scotches on the market. Macallan is probably "cooked". What many large scale production scotches are doing now is placing whisky in sherry casks and then using increased pressure and temperature to cause "artificial aging". Personally, I find this practice appalling and even more appalling is the fact that the Scotch Whisky Association doesn't want anyone to know about it. Try Aberlour 10 yr instead of Macallan next time, less sherry, more body.

You need to indulge in the following bottles to get a fair representation of true scotch flavor:

Bowmore Legend or 12 yr

Aberlour 10

Aberlour A'bunadh



Highland Park 12 yr

Springbank (whatever you can find)

Rosebank or Auchentoshan

Glen Garioch

This should give you North, South, East and West Highlands, as well as Speyside, Islay, Campbelltown, Lowlands and Non-Islay Islands, which are the main regions, IMO.

10-26-2003, 10:24
I've posted scattered mentions of this bottling in several threads; I really have nothing new to say now, but I decided to mention The Macallan 12 here in this thread, just for the sake of symmetry.

I'm just this very minute finishing my first bottle. I suspect it will be my last. I know there must be some scotch flavors in there somewhere, but they are covered by the sherry influence like a Dachshund under a horse blanket. There's nothing really unpleasant about it, but it seems totally one-dimensional to me. If I want sherry, I'll buy sherry.

I must be in a minority in my regard for this bottling. The label brags on and on about the wonders of aging scotch in sherry casks. I'm sorry; I just don't get it.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

I couldn't agree more. The wine flavored scotches leave me totally under whelmed. Glenmorangie is a good example of a distillery gone crazy over the "wine finishes".

Regards, jimbo

11-02-2003, 17:34
It looks as though this one will be the winner of my unofficial First Single Malt To Be Emptied contest, not that I have many contestants. Every time I take a notion to have scotch, I have to force myself to drink anything else. I imagine it will continue that way until the bottle is empty, which will be about three pours from now.

After one glass this afternoon I decided to switch to bourbon, just for the sake of comparison. After eating a handful of almonds to zero out my taster, I opened a long-bunkered bottle of Wathen's.

Wathen's is still a marvelous pour, but I'd hate to have to choose between it and Highland Park 12 if I could have only one for the rest of my life. (I'm fairly confident that anyone who might be offended by that statement won't be snooping around in this particularl forum. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif )

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

11-03-2003, 11:17
(I'm fairly confident that anyone who might be offended by that statement won't be snooping around in this particularl forum. )


Dave how could you!?!?


11-03-2003, 15:02

Note that whoever was impersonating me in the post you quoted from misspelled the word "particular". You know I would never do such a thing, right? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

Seriously, if you wish to keep from being tempted to cross over to The Dark Side, stay away from Highland Park 12. It isn't bourbon, but it's mighty good. (Until the last couple of years, scotch made me gag -- literally. Some famous bottlings have almost that effect, even today.)

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

11-03-2003, 16:54
Seriously, if you wish to keep from being tempted to cross over to The Dark Side, stay away from Highland Park 12.

LOL I knew it couldnt be you when I saw the misspellings!

In reference to keeping away from the dark side: I am fully into my bourbon enthusiast hobby. I am doing a little exploring into the cigar thing, and this may prompt a purchase of a humidor (because I am still unsure of smoking regularly, and there are no reliable retailers around here http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smoke.gif). I simply do not have the funds to make it to the "Dark Side", and thusly will not have any such problems!!

Tom (amused you chose the "darkside reference, I am finally gonna sit down and watch episode 1 tonight) C

11-03-2003, 18:19
I'm with you. I started dabbling with single-malt Scotch a few months before my foray into bourbons -- and I'm fond of my bottle of Highland Park 12yo, too.
Overall, I prefer the bourbons, but on a winter evening w/ a damp chill that just cuts through you -- well, Scotch makes a good pour.

11-04-2003, 23:13
Some (of us) have slipped over to the darkside, despite not having the financial resources to do so. (Bourbon, single malts, pure pot still Irish... they can really add up!)
...but, hey, you've got to have priorities in life. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

02-25-2004, 18:06
And, I got to try some of it at my favorite bar in Atlanta, last week (Joey D's Oak Room).

It was The Balvenie 15-year old single barrel. A generous pour on the rocks was $6.50 (plus tip, of course). I had been building myself up for The Balvenie for over a year, so I really had my hopes up that it would be very good.

Well, it was simply wonderful! By far the best scotch I've ever tasted. Sweet like honey and with quite a bit of flavor. A bit on the light side, but nowhere near too light.

I wonder what something like that would cost for a bottle?

Now, as to the bar at Joey D's. It has become way too crowded. Good for them, but bad for me. There were two evenings when I couldn't even get close enough to order a drink. I guess I sang their praises too loudly.


02-25-2004, 18:43
Balvenie 15yo is $60.90/750ml in VA. Actually, before you plonk down that much cash for the 15yo, give the Balvenie Doublewood 12yo a try. It's cheaper and I prefer it by a pretty wide margin.


02-26-2004, 06:49
I, too, prefer the Balvenie Doublewood 12yo to the Single Barrel 15yo. The lone bottle of 15yo I tried smelled like wet wool, so much so that it spoiled the drinking experience. When I look back on that experience, I think I may have gotten a "corked" bottle. Yes, hard to believe, but cork taint affects whisky as well as wine. The 15yo sells for $50 in PA, the Doublewood for about $40. Next time the 15yo goes on sale, I may buy another bottle just to see if my first bottle was an "off" bottle.

As for the Doublewood, it is yummy stuff http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif. IMHO, one of the best widely-available single malts on the market today (along with Ardbeg Ten, Highland Park 12yo and 18yo, and Talisker 10yo...I would have included Lagavulin 16yo on this list, but it is in very short supply and not widely available http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif).


02-26-2004, 22:59
I too prefer the Doublewood to the 15 by a pretty large margin. On the other hand the 21yo is one of my favorate port finished malts.

02-28-2004, 17:16
You should remember that the Doublewood is finished in sherry casks, while the single barrel remains in bourbon
casks. I found the Doublewood to be a liitle to mild for my taste. But then, I like Laphroig. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/horseshit.gif

02-28-2004, 20:00
You should remember that the Doublewood is finished in sherry casks, while the single barrel remains in bourbon

True, and while I consider myself a bourbon afficionado, more 'bourbonwood' aging for a malt doesn't necessarily make for a better whisky. I like Laphroaig as well, but for Balvenie products, give me the Doublewood over the 15yo any day.

02-29-2004, 08:36
Sorry about the obvious spelling errors.I was trying to edit the post but inadvertantly clicked on the "continue"

Many of my friends prefer the "Doublewood" over the "Single Barrel". I happen to enjoy both. I like
to try the different variations of the single malts
as that's part of the enjoyment.

I just thought that the "Doublewood",while very good,
was a little too mild as compared to whiskies that spent
more time in sherry casks or some of the heavily peated
"Islay" malts.

02-29-2004, 11:03
"...I like Laphroaig as well,..."

I have at least one Single Malt Whisky from each major region, but you have to really like S****h to really like Laphroaig! All the descriptions for Islay whiskies, like Iodine, Smokey/Peaty, etc., do describe these to a tee. Maybe that is why I have grown fond of premium bourbons, over the "others."

02-29-2004, 12:11
...you have to really like S****h to really like Laphroaig!

For me the Islays were an acquired taste. I like them very much, but I'm certainly not one of these machismo-flaunting Islay-braggarts that won't drink anything else and can't appreciate an esoteric/finesse/subtle malt. It took me awhile to really appreciate Laphroaig...my first taste reminded me of a medicated cotton ball.


02-29-2004, 21:06
That's a good description!

03-03-2004, 12:03
If you're bourbon drinker looking for a scotch you'll love there's only one that satisfies- Laphroaig. And the 10 year is actually better than the unfortunately over-refined 15 year bottle...much earthier, smokier, and packs a powerful flavor that is truly rare among scotches.

03-03-2004, 14:28
I like Laphroaig (see elsewhere in this thread), but I certainly wouldn't recommend it to a first-timer. I'd recommend starting with malts that are good representatives of their regions and go from there. I don't even consider Laphroaig to be the quintessential Islay.

It's delightful, but for many it's an acquired taste, and not for the uninitiated.


03-03-2004, 18:14
Wow, what a leap!!!! Bourbon to Laphroaig?

That's like saying if you like red wine you will love Listerine! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

03-03-2004, 19:26
I find that a person's enjoyment of Laphroaig generally benefits from the kinds of warnings and caveats about it that have been issued here.

03-03-2004, 21:23
I've always interpreted 'acquired taste' to mean 'you'll like it if you decide to'. Thus, I've never acquired tastes for either beer or coffee and, though I like some scotches (particulaly Speyside, but Highland Park 12yo is probably my favorite), I don't like the peaty, smoky island malts. Bourbon, on the other hand, didn't take much convincing. Does that make it a 'natural' taste?

03-04-2004, 06:19
I've always interpreted 'acquired taste' to mean 'you'll like it if you decide to'.

That's true in many cases, but with whisk(e)y sometimes one's (perhaps untrained) palate might not initially like a particular bottling, but if you put it aside and taste it after some experience your opinion changes.

08-29-2006, 13:03
Over the 2006 Independence Day holiday my son visited. He was pleased that I'd stocked up on Dewar's for him. (For some reason I still haven't gotten around to tasting that one.)

The third night he was here I set out not only the Dewar's but also a pygmy bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold, which I'd been saving for just such an occasion.

He tasted it neat, at my urging, and then on the rocks, his usual manner. His polite but lukewarm response prompted me to taste it as well. Although I'd not drunk any scotch in so long that I wasn't sure of myself, I had to agree with him. I vowed to revisit it another time for further exploration.

Last night I finally did so. Once again I was unimpressed. I suppose I could say either that it was perfectly balanced or devoid of any distinguishing flavors. It wasn't bad, mind you, but it totally failed to distinquish itself. To my taste it was generic scotch, nothing more. There was one slight negative. It caused a mildly unpleasant tingle at the finish, which overwhelmed the scant flavors at that point.

I decided that I should review my scotch baseline, just to make sure that my assessment was as fair as I was capable of making it. I pulled out bottles of Johnnie Walker Black and Famous Grouse.

I started with the former and was instantly reminded why it's one of my favorite blends. It took me several sips to identify the flavor I found so appealling. It's gingerbread. (A review of earlier posts today reveals that I used that same descriptor before. I find that reassuring.) Bottom line? Black beats Gold even up, never mind the difference in cost.

My taster was getting a little tired when I poured the Famous Grouse. It was lighter and more floral (the Highland Park heather taste?) than the Johnnie Walker Black and more enjoyable than the Gold.

If you're tempted to spend more than usual with the idea that the Johnnie Walker Gold is a step up from the Black, I think you are likely to be disappointed.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

08-30-2006, 03:20
I agree with you about the black vs. gold. The gold has a bitter aftertaste, that puts it behind the black IMO. Pretty expensive too.

08-30-2006, 11:25
Maybe we've been serving it wrong. The JW website (http://stridingman.johnniewalker.com/en-us/?reknown=true)says it should be frozen for 24 hours "to release its light, fruity flavors and honey sweetness, then served neat or in a chilled glass."

I've never heard of anything like this before.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

08-31-2006, 06:21
Honestly I can imagine that working quite well, but at the price they charge it should be palatable at any temperature.

08-31-2006, 18:57
While I don't totally agree with you on this I think JW shot themselves in the foot by having the Gold and the Green at about the same price point. The Green Label is so much better across the board. One of my favorite scotches in the $50 area, the other being Balvenie 15 yo Single Barrel.

08-31-2006, 22:36
I'd be interested in knowing more about your response to JW gold. Sometimes a little guidance helps me notice a quality that I missed on my own.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

09-01-2006, 04:51
I did this little review on another board back in April of 2004 if that helps.

Johnnie Walker Gold is not just an older version of their world Famous Black Label Scotch but rather a different blend that has the same roots. It is said up to 40 whiskies are blended to make JWG. I can tell the Cardhu that is the base of almost all JW whiskies and I've read that Clynelish is another main ingrediant but what the others may be, only Johnnie Walker knows.

Johnny Walker Gold is a smoother blend then the Black label, almost silky in the way it goes down. This is more of a thinking whisky, it has greater depth than Black label but doesn't have the one stand out flavor that Black does. If you have the time to concentrate there really is alot going on with this blend.

JWG has a big soft nose of honey, light oak and flowers (roses maybe?) in the background. The taste is silky smooth with hints of smoke and oak along with a subtle fruit flavor. This whisky finishes long and slow, it has a bit of dryness on the top of the tongue but the flavors go on and on along the sides.

Johnnie Walker has refined the classic taste of Black label with this 18 yo blend. A bit pricey but still worth it if you like the flavor profile. In England, there are a number of other blends that are perhaps a better buy but for customers in the U.S. our choices are more limited. So JWG joins other Scotches like Chivas 18 and Campbeltown Lock 20 or 25 (vatted) as one of the best Premium (not super premium) blends available here.

09-01-2006, 11:51
Good insights.

I was expecting something big and bold, which we agree is not what JWG is all about. I'm probably guilty of judging it against my expectations.

I'm down to three or four lusty pours in this little bottle. At the very least I'll take your cue regarding paying attention from now on. Don't think I'll try the freezer thing, though. Somehow it just doesn't seem right. If nothing else, it would add a variable that I'm unfamiliar with.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield