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bgast1
04-05-2011, 13:02
I hear that it is an overpriced Scotch blend. I have a bottle of Grant's and I like it ok. Can someone please advise on Chivas and if Chivas is not worth it, please advise of another blend. I enjoyed a miniature of Famous Grouse (the next level up from their lowest).

I have a bottle of Laphroiag and Grant's. I am looking at what the next bottle should be. Johnnie Walker Red is cheaper than Black but is it any good? So many brands, so little money to experiment.:lol:

Brisko
04-05-2011, 13:40
Chivas 12 is okay but it is pretty inoffensive (read:bland). I think it's fairly similar to Grants, honestly. If you can find it, Hankey Bannister is good, and cheap. Otherwise Islay Mist is decent and not too expensive.

If you like the Famous Grouse you might try to find Isle of Skye 8 y/o. It is similar in profile but a better whisky.

Johnnie Walker Black is a far better whisky than the red. A lot of people hate the red-- I don't mind it once in a while but I probably would never buy a bottle. Black label is a great whisky and worth every penny.

cowdery
04-05-2011, 15:35
Johnnie Walker is the most popular brand of blended scotch in the world and for a scotch beginner, Johnnie Black is an excellent benchmark, meaning it's a very good place to start and compare others against. You could do the same thing with Chivas, I just happen to like Johnnie Black. Generalities like "Chivas is an overpriced scotch blend" aren't very useful. If there's another, cheaper blend that one likes as well or better, then one might be tempted to call Chivas 'overpriced' but it is hardly a universal or particularly in-the-know sentiment.

TomH
04-05-2011, 15:47
A lot of people knock Chivas 12 as overpriced and overhyped, including some of the experts. While it not my favorite blend, it is very drinkable (I frequently order it in bars since it is everywhere). It is heavily speyside influenced and has very little peat, so it gets a lot of disdain from the peatheads. Since Chivas 12 is in almost any bar, buy a pour before you buy a bottle. That makes your decision easy. Personally for a non-peated type of blend I prefer Mitchells'.

Compare it to Johnnie Walker Black (which I definitely prefer to Red) which has a lot more peat which also can be found at most any bar. I also agree with Brisko, if you like Laphroaig Islay Mist is a cheap alternative.

dbk
04-05-2011, 16:45
There are certainly plenty of decent blends out there, but my favourite is Té Bheag (http://www.gaelicwhisky.com/shop-te_bheag.asp) (pronounced "Chay Vek"). It's really spectacular, especially for the price.

bgast1
04-05-2011, 16:52
Thanks everyone. At $30.00+ Johnny Walker Black is beyond my price range for something that I might consider drinking every day. But then I could skip a few days and savor it all the more.:grin: Especially since I also like bourbon more and will probably go with the Evan Williams. I have been looking for Weller (?) also but can't find it.

cowdery
04-06-2011, 00:16
I haven't been a regular blended scotch drinker in years but a long time ago, when cheap blends were my thing, I got a lot of mileage from Passport and Scoresby, and occasionally Ushers.

Brisko
04-06-2011, 07:46
Another one I forgot about is Teacher's Highland Cream.

It's not available everywhere but it's about $20 per Liter where I'm at. It's a peaty highland blend with a high percentage of Ardmore in it, and although it's a little green around the edges, it's still very good and a good value for the money.

Jono
04-06-2011, 10:12
Check out Scotch sites for opinions as well....Ralfy is very good:

http://whiskyreviews.blogspot.com/2010/12/172-recommended-older-blended-whiskies.html

http://www.whiskymarks5.blogspot.com/

ebo
04-09-2011, 06:28
Another one I forgot about is Teacher's Highland Cream.

It's not available everywhere but it's about $20 per Liter where I'm at. It's a peaty highland blend with a high percentage of Ardmore in it, and although it's a little green around the edges, it's still very good and a good value for the money.
I second the Teacher's. I'm a big Ardmore fan, and Ardmore is the dominant malt in Teacher's.

Robmo
04-16-2011, 06:23
At $30.00+ Johnny Walker Black is beyond my price range for something that I might consider drinking every day. But then I could skip a few days and savor it all the more.:grin:

I've had very good luck w/ Johnny Walker Black. You can enjoy it neat, on the rocks, as a scotch and soda or in a Godfather, an ambrosial cocktail (scotch + amaretto)...a very versatile product.

LeoDLion
06-06-2011, 13:34
I've had very good luck w/ Johnny Walker Black. You can enjoy it neat, on the rocks, as a scotch and soda or in a Godfather, an ambrosial cocktail (scotch + amaretto)...a very versatile product.
There is a new release out there called Johnny Walker Double Black. I had the chance to taste this. Diageo who owns JW says it's peatier and aged in deeply charred casks. It was smoother than the regular Black Label. It costs a little bit more but not that much.

http://www.scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk/johnniewalkerdoubleblack.htm

ebo
06-06-2011, 13:53
Dewar's 12 is a decent pour, IMO.

Megawatt
06-08-2011, 09:31
There is a new release out there called Johnny Walker Double Black. I had the chance to taste this. Diageo who owns JW says it's peatier and aged in deeply charred casks. It was smoother than the regular Black Label. It costs a little bit more but not that much.

http://www.scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk/johnniewalkerdoubleblack.htm

Double Black, eh? Seems like Diageo is applying the same strategy they used for Crown Royal Black: more robust taste, and a dark colour we are supposed to attribute to the charred casks. Interesting that they dropped the age statement. Still, I'd like to try it. Crown Royal Black is pretty decent in my opinion.

craigthom
06-08-2011, 14:08
Double Black, eh? Seems like Diageo is applying the same strategy they used for Crown Royal Black: more robust taste, and a dark colour we are supposed to attribute to the charred casks. Interesting that they dropped the age statement. Still, I'd like to try it. Crown Royal Black is pretty decent in my opinion.

Scotch regulation allows coloring agents, so they could just be making it darker. If they've upped the Talisker content it could be interesting.

Back on topic, so it's not generally accepted that Chivas is the Maker's Mark of Scotch?

LeoDLion
06-08-2011, 14:15
Scotch regulation allows coloring agents, so they could just be making it darker. If they've upped the Talisker content it could be interesting.

Back on topic, so it's not generally accepted that Chivas is the Maker's Mark of Scotch?
No, they did not add coloring and sell it for 15 to 20% more than the regular Black label.

The Double Black has some heavily-pealt malts and aged in deeply charred oak casks. They did not say what malt component were added but it must be one of the peated ones perhaps from Islay.

Anyway its a test product. Dont know if they will go ahead and market it.

craigthom
06-08-2011, 15:53
No, they did not add coloring and sell it for 15 to 20% more than the regular Black label.

On what are you basing the claim that they haven't added more E150A caramel color? They say that they are using heavily charred (but, I assume, used) barrels, but they don't claim that all the color difference comes from that, unless there's some source other than that press release.

LeoDLion
06-08-2011, 20:37
On what are you basing the claim that they haven't added more E150A caramel color? They say that they are using heavily charred (but, I assume, used) barrels, but they don't claim that all the color difference comes from that, unless there's some source other than that press release.
Because there was nothing in the marketing brochure that said they added color. And that by using heavily charred oak barrels this will impart a deeper golden color to the whisky. They did not say how long it was aged but given enough time that is what it will do.

And it is illogical and impractical that they would add color only and hike the price by 20%. Don't you think so? The more important thing is the component of the whisky seem to suggest that they are using peatier single malts compare to the regular Black Label. But I have not seen or read what precisely those are.

BTW, I hope you don't think that a JW Double Black is twice as dark as the regular Black and that is why you started talking about color? It has nothing to do with being dark or twice as black. I think they mean twice as good as the Black label.

TomH
06-09-2011, 05:35
Anyway its a test product. Dont know if they will go ahead and market it.

I would think its now moved beyond test market status. It's been in the travel retail (duty free) stores for almost a year now and its currently being introduced in the US (at least Binny's has announced it). I would assume (always dangerous I know) that the travel retail was the "test" and now they're going live.

BTW, you have a much higher opinion of Diageo than I do. I don't believe there is any relationship to the price increase vs caramel use in their minds. If they think a darker color will influence sells they will add it. Also if they have decided to market it at a 20% premium to JWB, thats a significant increase over their travel retail pricing if I remember correctly (of course that observation is limited to the store where I purchased it and their could have tested different pricing in different stores).

Tom

Brisko
06-09-2011, 06:59
Because there was nothing in the marketing brochure that said they added color.
Added color is not something that Scotch producers like to talk about in any capacity, let alone in a marketing piece.


And it is illogical and impractical that they would add color only and hike the price by 20%. Don't you think so? It's Diageo, logic doesn't apply. And, don't give them any ideas!


The more important thing is the component of the whisky seem to suggest that they are using peatier single malts compare to the regular Black Label. But I have not seen or read what precisely those are.The foundational peated malts in JW are Talisker and Caol Ila, so presumably they are using them in higher ratio. Also the fact that this blend won't have an age statement leads me to believe that they would be using younger stocks of the peated malts, given that the peat flavor softens considerably with age. If I had to guess I would say that they would keep using older Speysiders and grain stocks to maintain the balance and smooth mouthfeel that JW Black is known for, while taking advantage of the vibrancy of somewhat younger peated stock.


I think they mean twice as good as the Black label. I don't think anyone believes that, JWB is one of the best blends on the market.

LeoDLion
06-09-2011, 08:30
I have tasted it in Asia when a friend brought it, probably in China since he is doing some contract work there. The Double Black is subtle and smoother than the regular Black. The one he brought is in a liter bottle. I have not seen it in the local store but when they do sell it I will try it.

I can not remember if its darkier in color but I think it is not.

Megawatt
06-09-2011, 09:19
Leo, I think you have misunderstood some posts here. No one is suggesting that all they did is add colour and up the price. I'm not even sure if it is darker than regular JW because I have only seen pictures. I was basing my assumptions on another new Diageo product, Crown Royal Black. The marketing is the same: deeply charred barrels, more robust taste, 20% higher price, and in the case of Crown Royal, much darker colour. They don't state that the colour is due to the casks alone but they definitely imply it, and I don't buy it for a second. Why? Because it's almost as dark as Coca Cola.

But I like Crown Royal Black, and I'll buy it again. I think the higher price is justified by the taste and higher alcohol.

LeoDLion
06-10-2011, 05:29
Leo, I think you have misunderstood some posts here. No one is suggesting that all they did is add colour and up the price. I'm not even sure if it is darker than regular JW because I have only seen pictures. I was basing my assumptions on another new Diageo product, Crown Royal Black. The marketing is the same: deeply charred barrels, more robust taste, 20% higher price, and in the case of Crown Royal, much darker colour. They don't state that the colour is due to the casks alone but they definitely imply it, and I don't buy it for a second. Why? Because it's almost as dark as Coca Cola.

But I like Crown Royal Black, and I'll buy it again. I think the higher price is justified by the taste and higher alcohol.
You are right. I thought that is what is being suggested which does not make sense to me. But like I said I don't remember the Double Black being that darker than the regular Black. Personally I don't like my whisky to be dark. For rhum yes.

It is true that some distilleries and perhaps bottlers add color to their product. Perhaps if the whisky is quite pale I understand the reason of coloring it to make it look more robust. And if they do they will not advertise it. But I don't like colored whisky.

Brisko
06-10-2011, 07:38
For what it's worth, some distillers claim that a little caramel actually helps integrate the various casks, flavor-wise, so that's another possible reason for E-150 beyond just visual aesthetics. At any rate it is pretty common with scotch.

When you say that the Double Black is "subtle and smoother" than the standard JWB, what does that mean? Can you elaborate? That seems like the opposite of what they said they were going for.

smokinjoe
06-10-2011, 10:48
I have a bottle of Chivas 12 yr that was gifted to me, and I just have not been able to get into it. I much prefer JW Black for my Dark Side Blend Attacks...The Chivas just seems one-dimensionally sweet. Drinkable, but it doesn't get in my wheelhouse.

LeoDLion
06-11-2011, 06:13
For what it's worth, some distillers claim that a little caramel actually helps integrate the various casks, flavor-wise, so that's another possible reason for E-150 beyond just visual aesthetics. At any rate it is pretty common with scotch.

When you say that the Double Black is "subtle and smoother" than the standard JWB, what does that mean? Can you elaborate? That seems like the opposite of what they said they were going for.
My impression with the Double Black is that you are drinking a 15 to 18 year old whisky as oppose to a 12 year old which a regular black is. It has a smoother taste. The color is just about the same. There is a hint of peat but not as much as one of the Islay whiskies.

When you get your bottle post your tasting notes here and lets compare.

Again on the subject of caramel coloring, I don't agree that "its a pretty common practise with scotches". If you can compile a list of at least 50 scotches where color is added, you win the argument. Remember that a bottler may add color to one product release but not on the others.

The practise of adding coloring is being phase out from what I heard. This tells me that the majority of whisky consumer don't like color added to the whisky. I don't like coloring added. But the bottler does not have to put that on the label except for some countries like Denmark and Germany. Some dislike it because it adds sweetness or also bitterness to the product.

craigthom
06-12-2011, 06:59
Again on the subject of caramel coloring, I don't agree that "its a pretty common practise with scotches". If you can compile a list of at least 50 scotches where color is added, you win the argument. Remember that a bottler may add color to one product release but not on the others.

Since they are not required to disclose the use of caramel color, that's not possible.

A better test would be to compile a list of fifty scotches which the producers claim are free of caramel color.

Megawatt
06-12-2011, 07:20
It is absolutely a common practice with Scotch whisky to add colouring. Only a handful of blends are colour-free (Mac Namara comes to mind). Even expensive malts like Lagavulin have colouring (except the cask-strength version, which clearly states otherwise on the bottle).

The idea is that the "average consumer" doesn't actually know a lot about whisky. They attribute dark colour to richer taste, greater age, higher quality, whatever. Case in point: I brought a bottle of The Arran Malt 10 year old to my friend's house. As soon as I presented it everyone present exclaimed, "Wow, look how light it is!" It struck them as strange, that whisky could be so light. When I told them, "This is how whisky looks when you don't add colouring," they were surprised because they didn't know this is a common practice. The distilleries are just playing to customer's expectations.

I do hope this is starting to change, though.

cowdery
06-12-2011, 12:15
The point about added coloring is that you can't evaluate scotch by its color because they can, and do, make it whatever color they want it to be through the addition of caramel coloring. This is well established, legal, and uncontested if not exactly uncontroversial. When evaluating scotch, you have to take appearance out of the equation. American straight whiskey, on the other hand, permits no added coloring so the color means something. With scotch it doesn't. Presumably the way this product is made will lead it to be darker but if the makers didn't think it was quite dark enough for the impression they sought, they could adjust accordingly.

TomH
06-12-2011, 14:54
OK, this thread finally got the best of my curiosity so I headed to the basement and pulled a bottle of Double Black. There is a color difference but it is VERY slight. I'm not sure I would really pick up on it unless I examined them side by side. As LeoDLion stated, it is much softer and smoother than the standard JWB. It does have peat, but again not in your face peat. IMHO, Diageo may have reduced the Talisker component and used more Caol Ila in the double black. Going have to spend a little time with it to see where it falls in my JW favorites.

Tom

Megawatt
06-12-2011, 17:39
OK, this thread finally got the best of my curiosity so I headed to the basement and pulled a bottle of Double Black. There is a color difference but it is VERY slight. I'm not sure I would really pick up on it unless I examined them side by side. As LeoDLion stated, it is much softer and smoother than the standard JWB. It does have peat, but again not in your face peat. IMHO, Diageo may have reduced the Talisker component and used more Caol Ila in the double black. Going have to spend a little time with it to see where it falls in my JW favorites.

Tom

Sounds interesting. I'm glad to have been proved wrong about Diageo fiddling with the colour as they did with Crown Royal Black.

ebo
06-13-2011, 16:28
For the record; Chivas got me started on my Scotch journey 30 years ago. My uncle gave me my first taste on my 21st birthday... a Rusty Nail made with Chivas. I drank Chivas for a few years untill I discovered the wonderfull world of single malts and the myriad of other blended Scotches that are out there.

As much as I love Bourbon (and I really do love it) Scotch will always be #1 with me. :grin:

LeoDLion
06-14-2011, 14:48
It is absolutely a common practice with Scotch whisky to add colouring. Only a handful of blends are colour-free (Mac Namara comes to mind). Even expensive malts like Lagavulin have colouring (except the cask-strength version, which clearly states otherwise on the bottle).

The idea is that the "average consumer" doesn't actually know a lot about whisky. They attribute dark colour to richer taste, greater age, higher quality, whatever. Case in point: I brought a bottle of The Arran Malt 10 year old to my friend's house. As soon as I presented it everyone present exclaimed, "Wow, look how light it is!" It struck them as strange, that whisky could be so light. When I told them, "This is how whisky looks when you don't add colouring," they were surprised because they didn't know this is a common practice. The distilleries are just playing to customer's expectations.
I do hope this is starting to change, though.
Whisky that is aged in charred oak barrels will be golden in color after a few years. Not light as mentioned above. The oak barrel alone will impart a golden brown color. If aged further, it will get darker and darker. Most oak barrels are imported from used bourbon oak barrels in the US. I know this first hand because I age whisky here in my home. Just 6 month and the once pale whisky is transformed to a golden brown color. Then deeper if you leave it longer. No coloring needed.

If you live in Germany or Denmark, the whisky label on the bottle will state what coloring, if any, is added. This is by law down there.

I am not sure how Arran aged theres. I do remember Arran being quite pale.

Brisko
06-15-2011, 07:44
Whisky that is aged in charred oak barrels will be golden in color after a few years. Not light as mentioned above. The oak barrel alone will impart a golden brown color. If aged further, it will get darker and darker. Most oak barrels are imported from used bourbon oak barrels in the US. I know this first hand because I age whisky here in my home. Just 6 month and the once pale whisky is transformed to a golden brown color. Then deeper if you leave it longer. No coloring needed.

If you live in Germany or Denmark, the whisky label on the bottle will state what coloring, if any, is added. This is by law down there.

I am not sure how Arran aged theres. I do remember Arran being quite pale.

Uh, not exactly. New charred oak barrels will impart a lot of color, but used cooperage contributes far less. Additionally, Scotch producers typically use a variety of barrels that have been filled/refilled numerous times. Sherry butts contribute a different coloration but that also diminishes significantly over time. So not only does the type of barrel make a difference, but also how many time it has been filled.

Some examples:
aCnoc 16 is matured exclusively in used bourbon barrels. Even at 16 years old it is the color of Chardonnay. It's not colored, obviously. In contrast, Laphroaig 10 CS is a little darker (even when brought down to proof), but still natural color.

Highland Park doesn't color any of their whiskies any more, but they use a lot of refill sherry butts. Their 12 y/o is a pretty "average" gold color, as is the 15.

Aberlour A'Bunadh is (I believe) first-fill sherry. Of course it's not age stated but it's probably a vatting of 10 to 16 year old butts. It's a deep amber, all natural.

There are plenty of examples of official bottlings which are significantly darker than uncolored indies from the same distillery at the same age. Dalmore is a great example of this, the official 12 is ridiculously dark while older indy bottlings are far lighter.

None of that really makes a difference in terms of quality... as I said, the old-timers will tell you that a little spirit caramel can help marry the casks together. But most of the distillers who are not adding caramel are stating it on the label because it's a selling point to a certain subset of the market. So if it doesn't say uncolored on the label, it very likely is.

And in terms of volume, blends are what, 90% of the Scotch market? And virtually all of them are colored.

craigthom
06-15-2011, 16:58
Right. You may get decent color from a used bourbon barrel the first time, but the fifth or sixth or tenth, maybe not, and as they fall apart the coopers take staves that are still good and make other barrels out of them.

They often take the bourbon barrel staves and make bigger barrels out of them, which provides less surface contact for the whiskey, too.

LeoDLion
06-16-2011, 05:55
I will agree that second or third refilled charred casks will impart less color than the "new" ones imported from the US. Arran which is light is exactly this kind. I doubt if cask are reused more than 3 times or so as is. It depends on the distillery. They can break it apart, shave it, make the barrel and charred it again. Or they just might decide its used.

There is no coloring declaring on any label except some European countries. Stop saying that most scotches are colored if you don't provide proof. Without proof, its conjecture, not fact.

Anyway without any concrete proof, we can huff and puff until our faces are red and we can not reach a conclusion. If you have any friends in Denmark or Germany or if we have listers from there they can look at the labels and send us info. There are so many misinformation stated here but I will not argue with it. Readers be wary.

Anyway no more post from me on this subject. I'd rather enjoy my whisky.

TomH
06-16-2011, 09:34
http://www.cocktailtimes.com/people/profile.glaser.shtml

Not huffing, just posting a quote from someone very familiar with Diageo practices. Also if you search you will find that Diageo has admitted to using caramel coloring in Lagavullin.

To be honest, the whole use of E150A is not a big deal to me as I only worry about what the final product tastes like.

Tom

cowdery
06-16-2011, 15:20
It's not so much about whether or not this or that scotch has color added. The point is that they can add it and in most places, including the USA, the coloring doesn't have to be disclosed.

And since we're talking about scotch, shouldn't it be spelled 'colouring'? With the punctuation inside the quote. And shouldn't it be 'spelt' instead of 'spelled'?

The justification for permitting coloring is that without it, scotches could noticeably vary in color, so you might open cases of Johnnie Walker from different batches and see that one batch is noticeably lighter or darker than another. Like flock haze, the retailer will consider this a flaw.

You may want to talk about what obscure single malt colors, but the reason for the allowance is so mass-produced products can adjust the color of their product so it's uniform.

Even though that is the intention you can't make intention part of the rule, so the rule says you may add spirit caramel.

If authentic color is important to the producer they can state that no color is added and I see no reason to doubt such claims.

But if the producer doesn't disclaim coloring, then you can't really evaluate the color because you don't know where it came from, the barrel or the bottle. You can speculate but it's pointless since it's based on nothing.

bgast1
11-21-2011, 07:42
I have just revisited this thread after ages it seems. Anyway...I am once again looking a blended scotch whisky to get an idea of the single malts that I might want to try. I recall like the Islay style whisky. Laphroig but am inexperienced with the other styles. I have had Glenmoraingie but do not recall what area or style that is.

Today, I am thinking of getting a bottle of Black Bottle, will that be typical of Islay malts?

dbk
11-21-2011, 08:04
Glenmorangie is definitely not Islay. It's in the highlands (and unpeated).

Black Bottle is a blend made entirely from Islay whisky, so yes, it will be "typical" Islay. However, there is a good deal of variation in styles of whisky even on Islay—not all are peaty, for instance, and even when they are, their profiles can differ substantially. In any case, Black Bottle is a very good value.

If you enjoy Black Bottle and are looking for another blend to try, I strongly recommend Té Bheag (pronounced "Chay Vek"). It's an excellent blend as well, and hits some classic Islay notes. If you'd like to try some single or vatted malts instead, I'd recommend Ardbeg (e.g. the 10), Laphroaig (e.g. the Quarter Cask), Lagavulin (e.g. the 16, which is a benchmark, if somewhat overrated, whisky in my books), Caol Ila, Big Peat, and Port Charlotte. You might also try the Talisker 10 and the Longrow CV—neither are from Islay, but both are very good and strongly related to the "typical" Islay profile.

bgast1
11-21-2011, 08:16
Decisions, decisions, decisions....Don't know where to start. I know that I will probably like the Black Bottle, but looking for an entry level scotch that won't break the bank. Chivas, Cutty Sark, Dewars, Johnny Walker Black, Ballentine's, Famous Grouse? So many and don't know what too choose from for my initial bottle again after a vacation from scotch.

Brisko
11-21-2011, 08:27
Of the ones you just listed I like Johnnie Black and Black Bottle. Don't really care for the others.

Another Islay-ish blend is White Horse. Not real peaty but still good. Otherwise Teacher's has got a decent dose of peat and smoke but it's Highland peat, a little different....

keep in mind that no blend is going to be as in-your-face as its constituent malts. They're going for a middle of the road profile, even with the more Islay-style blends.

All that being said, Black Bottle is always a decent choice. Just don't expect it to taste like Laphroaig 10.

cowdery
11-21-2011, 09:25
I agree. It's hard to imagine a taste for Islay malts being satisfied by any blend.

TomH
11-21-2011, 09:50
Actually I find Islay Mist to be a cheap drinkable blend with a taste of Islay (Laproaig is used). It's not a great pour, but for a >$20 scotch it works.

Mickbourbon
10-18-2012, 15:25
A friend of mine is a big fan of the Chivas Regal 18, he thinks bourbons are too harsh especially the GTS I had him try but he liked the nose.

sutton
10-19-2012, 12:51
If you are looking for a decent blend with little/no discernible peat, Great King Street is a good value or Black Bull Special Reserve No. 1 (Duncan Taylor).

On the peat side, I agree Black Bottle is a good value.