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tommyboy38
11-11-2010, 20:23
I'm an american whiskey drinker and don't enjoy scotch much but I have some friends who do and would like to keep 2 or 3 bottles available if they're over.
My questions are:
Are there any really good CHEAP SMS's? Is there a scotch equivalent of VOB BIB? of SW Old Fitz BIB?
Or maybe a scotch or two that are universally loved as much of the VW whiskeys are appreciated here at SB?

I'll hang up and listen for my answer.

kickert
11-11-2010, 20:41
Scotch is much more varied than bourbon is. A lowlands scotch tastes nothing like an Islay. Also, the cheap scotches often taste like cheap scotches.

I would say something like Glenlivet is a good entry level scotch that would be enjoyed by a scotch drinker without having them turn their nose up at you. It is nice and mellow and easy to drink. Then, I would something of distinction from the other side of the scale. My suggestion would Lagavulin 16. It is highly regarded and in my opinion captures everything a scotch should be. You would only break that out for people you really like, but in doing so, they would probably be impressed. You can spend more and get more esoteric with your selection, but Lagavulin 16 is about as solid as you can get.

sku
11-11-2010, 20:43
Single malts generally aren't cheap. If you have Trader Joe's where you are, you can find Finlaggan, a smoky, sourced single malt that is around $16 and not bad. Bowmore Legend is also pretty decent at around $20.

Beyond those ultra-cheapies, you are probably looking at around $40 for malts like Dalmore 12, Old Pulteney 12 and Laphroaig 10, all of which are very good.

Another option would be to go for decent blends. Famous Grouse is pretty standard and usually around $20 for a liter, for a smoky option, Black Bottle is a good blend in the $20 range.

AVB
11-11-2010, 21:30
Since you are in Chicago I'm going to assume you are somewhat close to a Binnys. As a long time scotch drinker/collector I'd recommend having a blend, a Highland or Speyside and an Islay to cover almost all the bases. Any scotch drinker who turns down a decent blend is too much of a snob to be friends with anyway.

For a blend you can't go wrong with any of the below.

Johnnie Walker Black
Pinch
Chivas Regal

For an Islay any the following will be decent

Black Bottle (5yo Islay blended scotch)
Islay Mist (8yo Islay blended scotch)
Bowmore Legend (Single Malt)
McClelland's Islay (in reality 5 yo Bowmore Single Malt)


Highlands/Speyside could include:

Ardmore Traditional Cask
Speyburn 10
Balvenie Doublewood (one of my favorite "everyday" drams)
Dalmore 12
Singleton of Glendullan
Glenlivet 12

There are a whole bunch of others you could substitute but none of the above should be over $40 - 45 with most under $30

The Boozer
11-11-2010, 22:29
AVB probably nailed it best with a rock solid list of blends.

My two go-to's are JB Black 12 yr & Black Bottle

As far as SM's

Highland Park 12 yr
Old Pulteney

I would stay away from any of the "peat monsters" Ardbeg or Laphroaig, unless you know your friends like strong peat/smoke stuff.

Stu
11-11-2010, 22:36
A lot of times you can find good malts on sale at low prices. Per example, Tamdhu distillery was recently mothballed. I was driving through OK and found Tamdhu at $16/bottle if you bought by the case. If you want to keep an inexpensive variety, try McClellans. They have a Highland, Lowland, and Islay. They don't own a distillery but buy from those regions. While not anywhere near top of the line, they are usually quite passable for guests, especially those who realize that you're not a scotch or malt drinker.

Josh
11-12-2010, 06:12
I'm a Scotch neophyte myself, but under the "universally beloved" category I think anything from Highland Park would qualify.

smokinjoe
11-12-2010, 06:54
Scotch neophyte here, as well. Opened a Highland Park 12 last night, as I thought it would help with my understanding of my daughter's Algebra studying. Well, it didn't help me understand, but it was quite tasty. <$30, too. (Note "less than" symbol :Clever: )

unclebunk
11-12-2010, 07:28
Scotch neophyte here, as well. Opened a Highland Park 12 last night, as I thought it would help with my understanding of my daughter's Algebra studying. Well, it didn't help me understand, but it was quite tasty. <$30, too. (Note "less than" symbol :Clever: )

As my elderly uncle used to say, "Holy cannoli!" How on earth you managed to find HP12 for less than $30 is beyond me but I'd head back and fill up my cart at that price. I love HP12 and still consider it the best value in SMS at $40. Drink up Joe and enjoy!:grin:

unclebunk
11-12-2010, 07:48
I'll be next in line to echo AVB's suggestions but would substitute Glenmorangie for the lighter Glenlivet 12 as a terrific Highland/Speyside all-rounder. You really can't go wrong with any of his recommendations but if it were me (and keeping budget as a major factor in my selections) I'd go with Johnnie Walker Black (roughly $25) as my classic blend, Ardmore Traditional Cask ($30 or less) to fulfill my need for peat and Highland Park 12 ($40-ish) for the perfect balance of Speyside fruitiness and subtle smoke/peat which tends to be found in all of the off-the-mainland products. It should be noted that although Ardmore Traditional Cask is produced on the mainland, it has far more in common with the island-style whiskies that one associates with Islay due to its heavier presence of smoke/peat. But it is not so intense as to chase away those who find Lagavulin, Laphroaig, etc. too challenging.

SMOWK
11-12-2010, 08:55
Aberlour A'bunadh is one of my favorite scotches to date. I think it's because it tastes so much like bourbon though. Behind that would be the cask strength Laphroaig 10.

CorvallisCracker
11-12-2010, 10:12
I'm an american whiskey drinker and don't enjoy scotch much but I have some friends who do and would like to keep 2 or 3 bottles available if they're over.

A lot of good SMS has been recommended in this thread, but there is one potential problem: your friends may not like any of them.

Back in the 1980s I had a couple of close friends who always ordered Dewars WL when we were out drinking. I'd been thinking about trying some SMS and on the advice of a third friend bought some Macallan 18 (only $40 in those days). I really liked it.

So the next time I had the two DWL drinkers over, I poured them some of the Mac, thinking it would be a real treat for them. Nope. Neither of them liked it. "Too heavy."

So then I got some Famous Grouse. Same result.

Being someone who tries to make an effort to be a good host, I just went ahead and got a bottle of DWL, and drank (and enjoyed) the other two myself.

So my advice to you is: take note of what they're drinking and get some of that.

Another option might be to get a small bottle (375ml) of what they usually drink and a larger bottle of a SMS. If they don't like the latter, you can always serve the former, and save the SMS for yourself.

My personal pick as a starter SMS is Glenmorangie 10. If your friends have been drinking blends like DWL or JWR, they'll probably find Laphroaig or Lagavulin too peaty.

kickert
11-12-2010, 10:46
A lot of good SMS has been recommended in this thread, but there is one potential problem: your friends may not like any of them.

Back in the 1980s I had a couple of close friends who always ordered Dewars WL when we were our drinking. I'd been thinking about trying some SMS and on the advice of a third friend bought some Macallan 18 (only $40 in those days). I really liked it.

So the next time I had the two DWL drinkers over, I poured them some of the Mac, thinking it would be a real treat for them. Nope. Neither of them liked it. "Too heavy."

So then I got some Famous Grouse. Same result.

Being someone who tries to make an effort to be a good host, I just went ahead and got a bottle of DWL, and drank (and enjoyed) the other two myself.

So my advice to you is: take note of what they're drinking and get some of that.

Another option might be to get a small bottle (375ml) of what they usually drink and a larger bottle of a SMS. If they don't like the latter, you can always serve the former, and save the SMS for yourself.

My personal pick as a starter SMS is Glenmorangie 10. If your friends have been drinking blends like DWL or JWR, they'll probably find Laphroaig or Lagavulin too peaty.

These are words of wisdom....

yourchoice
11-12-2010, 12:06
...I'd recommend having a blend, a Highland or Speyside and an Islay to cover almost all the bases.
I like this idea as well. My choices would be JWB, Highland Park 12, and either Bowmore, Ardbeg or Laphroig (all three very good Islay (peaty)).

The idea of taking note of what they have/order is spot on too, but if they seem to have a wide range of tastes, a combination similar to this would be more than gracious on your part.

edo
11-13-2010, 01:33
Unless you know they like Islay, I'd stay away from them, except Bowmore, which isn't near the peat bomb as the others. It's cheaper, too. I agree with the other postings. Glenlivet 12, and Glenfiddich 12 aren't likely to displease anybody. Glenmorangie 10 is a good solid highland. Highland Park 12, isn't a highland, but I've never known anyone to not like it a lot. The only one I'd add, from the Isle of Skye, Talisker 10.

tommyboy38
11-20-2010, 08:26
I appreciate all the feedback. Looks like I'll need to pick up some Highland Park and some Glenlivet. I do have a bottle of Glenmorangie. While out looking for some bourbon, I did find some Ardbeg 10 for what seems to be a cheap (and possibly old) price of $41 but this may be a little too challenging for most.

The Boozer
11-21-2010, 20:33
I appreciate all the feedback. Looks like I'll need to pick up some Highland Park and some Glenlivet. I do have a bottle of Glenmorangie. While out looking for some bourbon, I did find some Ardbeg 10 for what seems to be a cheap (and possibly old) price of $41 but this may be a little too challenging for most.

I would skip the Glenlivet especially if you already have Glenmorangie. Definately pick up the Ardbeg for $41, too good a price and whiskey don't go bad! I'm sure a few of us on the SB will be happy to come over and help drink it. :grin:

Doggerlander
02-07-2011, 21:32
With cheap as the key word:

Speyburn 10 is hard to beat for the money.

Gordon & MacPhail have a low priced MacPhail's collection that includes a Highland Park 8yo.

In Ohio, we have Laphroaig for $40. I was amazed to see Glenfiddich 12yo at Trader Joe's in California for under $25.

ebo
02-10-2011, 16:37
With cheap as the key word:

Speyburn 10 is hard to beat for the money.

Gordon & MacPhail have a low priced MacPhail's collection that includes a Highland Park 8yo.

In Ohio, we have Laphroaig for $40. I was amazed to see Glenfiddich 12yo at Trader Joe's in California for under $25.
We also have Ardmore for $40.00, and just recently, Cardhu for $42.00.

dmarkle
02-10-2011, 18:17
We also have Ardmore for $40.00, and just recently, Cardhu for $42.00.

Just tried Cardhu for the first time. OK, but I have to say that I prefer my Johnnie black to it. Sacrilege, I know, but to my untrained palate it just tastes like Johnnie black without the peat.

whskylvr
02-10-2011, 19:41
Cardhu is the main single malt that goes into the blending of Johnnie Black.

Cardhu became available in the US a short time ago. What happens is that Diageo has a list of products available and the US part of Diageo has to pick what they want available in the US. When Oban became available years ago Cardhu was taking off the US availablility.

ebo
02-11-2011, 18:13
Just tried Cardhu for the first time. OK, but I have to say that I prefer my Johnnie black to it. Sacrilege, I know, but to my untrained palate it just tastes like Johnnie black without the peat.

Actually, I agree with you. Johnnie Black is more interesting. To me, Cardhu is just a very easy to drink whisky that really doesn't bring much to the table. I won't be buying another bottle of it.

funknik
02-11-2011, 21:01
For a sub $25 bottle, I like the Tamdhu 10 . . . nothing earth shattering, but it's easy drinking and certainly won't be too challenging to those who drink blends regularly. Unlikely to excite anyone, though.

ThomasH
02-12-2011, 10:03
I'm no expert on scotch, but Glenfiddich 12 is one I like alot. I think the idea of some blends in addition to a few single malts is a good idea!

Thomas

ratcheer
02-12-2011, 12:01
There is only one scotch I really like, so it is the one I always recommend - The Balvenie. My favorite expression is the 15 year old single barrel, but they are all very good.

Tim

ggilbertva
02-12-2011, 12:15
There is only one scotch I really like, so it is the one I always recommend - The Balvenie. My favorite expression is the 15 year old single barrel, but they are all very good.

Tim

I'll second that and state that the Balvenie Caribbean Cask is also very good.

squire
02-13-2011, 17:57
Tim, Balvenie was our office pour back in the days when another attorney came by after 5:00 and courtesy required we offer a drink. I liked the Founders Reserve 10 yr but a bottle of Doublewood would crop up occasionally.

StraightNoChaser
02-16-2011, 07:56
You can never, ever, go wrong with a Macallan. Arguably the most widely appreciated single malt in the world and with good reason. Their production process is complex and no expense is spared. They (according to them) spend 2x as much on their barrels as all the other distilleries combined!

You can read in-depth about their process on the Macallan website, from the temperature of the water they use in their wart to details on their own cooperage in Jerez, Spain

StraightNoChaser
02-16-2011, 07:57
There is only one scotch I really like, so it is the one I always recommend - The Balvenie. My favorite expression is the 15 year old single barrel, but they are all very good.

Tim
Their new peated cask is rather exceptional.

squire
02-16-2011, 19:21
Of the Macallan expressions my favorite was the 10 yr old which may not still available.

ebo
02-16-2011, 20:02
As far as Macallan goes, I'll take the 12, 18 and Cask Strength offerings over any of the 10 year stuff.

There are much better (IMO) Scotch whiskies out there, than Macallan.

squire
02-16-2011, 20:06
I agree Eric, I have always preferred Edradour over Macallan.