View Full Version : Bourbon-like Scotch?
Can anyone recommend a scotch that resembles bourbon? I am interested in trying some different whiskeys, but would like to find a good starter that I can relate too (I would like to not spend $30+ only to find something I can't finish). Does a creature like this exist, or are bourbon and scotch mutually exclusive? http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/shocked.gif
Another tough one. Perhaps BlackKeno can answer this one better than me, since his experience with scotch is far broader than my own. But, from my experience, I have not found a scotch that remotely reminds me of bourbon. I'd say they are mutually exclusive...and I'm glad they are. Makes life more interesting http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif
I would tend to agree that bourbon-like Scotch is not really available and I'm glad! http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/shocked.gif I think we make great bourbon. I think they make great Scotch in Scotland. I would not expect anything but mediocre "bourbon" to be produced anywhere but here. The more "bourbon-like" the Scotch is, the more I think A bourbon drinker would be likely to draw an anfavorable comparison. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/frown.gif
Despite all the above, here is how I would identify bourbon-like Scotches: first avoid whisky with strong characteristics not found in bourbon such as the effects of peat and wine casks. (This eliminates most of the single malts generally considered the best). You might want to consider Glengoyne (unpeated) or Auchentoshan select. Second, look for production methods more like Bourbon (continuous stills). Here you could try single grains (rather than malts) like Black Barrel or Invergorden. Most single grains taste more like Canadian to me than Bourbon. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/ooo.gif
Please note I don't think any of these are great Scotch, but they are probably a little more like (mediocre) bourbon than other Scotch is. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/confused.gif
The first time I ever tasted scotch I expected it to be similar in taste to bourbon. I came close to gagging and almost chunked the bottle. The brand I chose as my first scotch was a mild, cheap blend that you might think would be a "decent" introduction to that type of whiskey. But I think not knowing anything about the ingredients, production methods, or traditions behind scotch really set the tone for my unpleasant experience. It was several years later before I took another stab at it. I think a maturing palate might have helped me warm up to scotch the second go-around but knowing a little about the traditional and factual differences between it and bourbon helped me out also. I was at least prepared for something different.
Anyway, take my experience with a grain of salt (remember what I said about Old Weller? http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif ). But with what few scotches I've tried, I'll agree with what's already been posted....bourbon and scotch are completely different. Even the peaty smokiness of certain single malts and blends seems to vary greatly from the smokiness you experience from a charcoal-mellowed Tennessee whiskey. I think I've detected faint similarities before in the nose of both scotch and bourbon (oak and maybe honey) but that's about as close a resemblance as I've noted.
Bob mentioned enjoying the Longrow bourbon wood version. From what I've understood, a great many scotches are aged in used bourbon barrels. Is there something extra that sets Longrow apart so that it is designated a "bourbon wood version" or were you (Bob) just differentiating between that and a "sherry wood version". Are there any detectable bourbon characteristics imparted to the scotch through this type of aging? If there are, what do you scotchafied bourbonites think? Is it for the better or worse? I know you can seriously encounter some sherry when drinking the Macallan 12 yr. I'm just wondering if a similar experience can be had with scotch aged in bourbon barrels. If it can, then it has eluded me.
>Can anyone recommend a scotch that resembles bourbon? I am interested in
>trying some different whiskeys, but would like to find a good starter that I can
First, realize that the difference between scotch and bourbon is a lot
like the differece between beer and bourbon. We appreciate them
for very different reasons. We expect very different things from each of
them. It's like comparing lawyers to auto mechanics. Both of them are
theiving bastards (just kidding), but in very different ways.
My advice (which is somewhat similar to others' advice) is:
1) Stay away from peated scotches. Peat is an acquired taste.
This rules out every "Islay" scotch.
2) Stay away from sherried scotches. They can often (Macallan 12)
taste like someone dumped cheap wine into your whiskey.
3) Stay away from Lowland scotches, which many people find to
be too subtle and delicate.
So on to my suggestion:
Glenmorangie 10 Year old - matured in bourbon barrels. No peat. No sherry.
tastes great... malty, with nice overtones. Best selling single
malt in Scotland. ~$30. Widely available in grocery stores and
liquor stores in the US that carry single malts. It's a Highland scotch.
I agree with this except the lawyer part. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif
I would suggest, before a move over to malts, an exploration of blends such as Bell's, Ballantine's, Teacher's.
Blends actually approach bourbon more in many cases (provided not highly peated) because the grain whisky
component is made often from corn and (more important) drawn from column stills such as are used today to
make most bourbon.
Johnnie Walker Red is very fine of course too, any premium blend, really.
One of the things that has always appealed to me about good bourbon is its "realness", and the straightforward, honest quality of the spirit. Good bourbon is "wild as a mink and sweet as sody-pop", as the song goes. You know, there are scotches with that same stand-up quality, and if you want to finally find out what all this "peat" business is all about, you'll do no better than to start with a scotch that is on just about everyone's short list of the world's best whiskies - Talisker, from the Isle of Skye. It's got peat and a oceanic tang like the more acrid Islay malts, but the water for Talisker is drawn not from peat springs on the island, but from Carbost Burn, a stream on the mainland. The whiskey is powerful but sweet in a bourbon/honey way and not sherried (at least the classic Talisker is not). Not in its taste, particularly, but in the rugged comforting heat it produces, it reminds me of Russell's Reserve - just substitute peat for barrel char. Taste it, pull up the collar of your Harris tweed and listen for seabirds.
>I would suggest, before a move over to malts, an exploration of blends such as
>Bell's, Ballantine's, Teacher's.
>Johnnie Walker Red is very fine of course too, any premium blend, really.
Blends might not be a bad choice for a beginner, but there are A LOT of
really bad blends out there, so be careful. Clan MacGregor... ugh!
Oh, one more piece of advice: no ice. Bourbon has that BIG TASTE that
can stand up to ice, but scotch is more subtle, and if you always drink
it with ice, it'll take you a long time to learn to appreciate it. In general,
(when I'm drinking to appreciate "the distiller's art"), I enjoy my whisk/e/y with
just a little splash of water.
When it comes to blends, I like Chivas Regal 12 year and the 18 year old, Teachers Highland Cream, Johnny Walker Black, Gold (mmm!) or Blue (double mmm!) and Dewar's recent 12 year old blend.
In this case, I was simply indicating that the Longrow that I had purchased was the version that had been aged in ex-Bourbon casks. It is my understanding that most Scotch is aged in casks that had previously held Bourbon. Whether the casks held Bourbon, Sherry, Port or Rum, they all impart some characteristics to the Scotch. It is my sense that the Sherry casks impart the most influence in taste to the Scotch.
Some Scotch is casked in two types of wood, one for the majority of time that it's casked and then finished in another type of cask, to impart special characteristics. An example is Balvenie's Double Wood, which is 12 years old and spends approx. 11 years in Bourbon casks, then the remainder in Sweet Oloroso casks.
As far as which is better or worse, I do not think there's an answer to that. It all depends on the specific Scotch, and the flavors that we individually enjoy. I for one enjoy types that have been stored in both types of wood. What do others think?
These are almost exactly my favorates too. The only others I would add are Chival Royal Solute 21yo (expensive like JW Blue) http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/shocked.gif and Mitchell's 12yo (Springbank based) which is very hard to find.
As Jono said in the Scotch Kit thread, check out the Dalmore 12y. Or their Cigar Malt. I don't notice much peat. It has some sherry influence but I love the flavor. There's oak and a wonderful sweetness, esp. on the Cigar Malt. Reasonably priced. It's the closest thing to bourbon I've tasted from Scotland.
I dont know much about any of this, But the Balvenie Double wood was one of the few scotches I enjoyed in my limited experience.
I too am very fond of Dalmore Cigar Malt. On the other hand, I consider it pretty heavily sherried and never really thought of it being very bourbon-like. I'll have to consider that next time I try it.
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