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As I'm developing my bourbon palate I'm slowly developing my scotch palate as well (slowly, since it's generally more expensive :rolleyes:) but the only scotches i'm familiar with or have tasted yet are Laphroaig 10, Talisker10, Balvenie and Auberlour 12.
I'd love some suggestions, lists of favorites, places to start. Any reasons why or why not for certain bottles would be greatly appreciated!
If you like Laphroig, I would recommend Lagavulin 16. It is my favorite Islay (smokey, peaty scotch). I have only had Laphroig, Bowmore and Lagavulin from that region, and the latter is by far my favorite.
If you are looking for a cheap(er) smooth, less smokey scotch I like Glen Moray. It is a very mellow (some may say bland) speyside single malt that is right at $20.
There is a vast amount of Scotch out there and it's very subject to opinion, of course. Looking at what you've had, you have two very smoky Scotches (Talisker and Laphroaig), a lighter profiled Scotch (Balvenie) and a sherried Scotch (Aberlour), though you don't say what you think of them.
If you're looking to expand your palate, I would look to some of these.
You don't have any Northern Highland Scotches, which tend to be rugged with a bit of smoke. I would give any one of these a try: Dalmore 12, any Highland Park, Clynelish 14 or Old Pulteney 10.
It's worth trying some of the most popular malts to get a benchmark of how most people think of Scotch (the way Beam or JD represent most people's experience of Bourbon): Glenlivet and Glenfiddich are widely available and have a solidly malty taste.
It's also worth trying a few good blends. Famous Grouse is one of my favorite entry-level blends at a good price.
If you love the smoke (as evidenced by your selection of Talisker and Laphroaig), I agree that Lagavulin 16 is hard to beat, but I would also think about picking up an Ardbeg (any will do, they are all great).
Some of the best I've tried are:
Talisker 18 (sweet, rich, long, smoky)
Oban 14 (complex, malty, salty)
Cragganmore 12 (full, herbal, sweet)
Glenkinchie 10 (light, fresh, biscuity, herbal)
Lagavulin 16 (intense, medicinal, peaty, sweet malt underneath)
Highland Park 12 and 18 (honeyed, floral, herbal, smoky)
Glenlivet Nadurra (rich, powerful, fruity)
Longmorn 15 (malty, bittersweet, long, balanced)
Glenfiddich Solera Reserve (full, layered: strawberries and cream)
Glenkinchie Distillers Edition (sweet yet dry: raspberry tea and shortbread cookies)
The Famous Grouse 12 blended malt (rich, fresh, fruity, touch of smoke and licorice)
Johnnie Walker Black Label (complex: licorice, smoke, spice)
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