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Megawatt
01-15-2008, 04:56
I'm in the market for a good bottle, and two of my main considerations are:

The Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel
The Macallan Cask Strength

They are about the same price. The Macallan is stronger but The Balvenie is older. Has anyone tried them both? If so, which did you prefer?

Of course, I'm not limited to these two. Also considering the likes of Highland Park 18, The Macallan Fine Oak 15, not sure what else to look at...

T47
01-15-2008, 07:07
I have only tried a few Scotches, so I am no expert. I can't recall who on SB recommended Aberlour A'bunadh to me...but it has been a big hit. Everyone I have introduced it to has gone out and picked up a bottle. Beautiful deep color, wonderful spicy nose, the taste is full of black cherry and dried fruit, the finish is strong and full of sherry.
Here in WA it sells $60, and it's a bottle I always make a point of having. I have tried the Balvenie 12 and a few of the Macallan's, I would personally take the A'bunadh over the ones I have tried. If someone has had the specific bottles your interested in and they recommend them over the A'bunadh, then I will have to give it a try...

barturtle
01-15-2008, 07:32
I like the Highland Park 18 (heck I just like HP) also The Glenlivet Naddura and Springbank(any, you can't go wrong)

melting
01-15-2008, 14:24
I'd also recommend the Highland Park. I've only had the 12 and the 15. Never had the 18. The Highland 12 runs about 30 bucks here. The Glenlivet Nadura is also really good although it's a little more costly at around $50 here.

You may also want to look into the different Glenmorangie finishes. They have 4 different finishes as far as I'm aware of. Portwood, sherry, madiera and burgundy. They run about 45 dollars but are well worth it in my opinion although I haven't tried the burgundy.

There are so many different taste profiles it's almost impossible to pick just one to suggest. If you really want to experience a change of pace pick up a bottle of Ardbeg.

I've tried more scotches than I can remember and have enjoyed most. The only one that I really did not care for was Dalmore 12. Maybe the worst $30 I've ever spent on a bottle of whiskey.

Chris

TomH
01-15-2008, 16:16
Since most of your considerations are Speyside, I'll start with that area. While I'm a big Macallan fan, I'm not big on their CS. For flavor, I would go with the Macallan 12 for less bucks any day of the week. The Fine Oak 15 is nice, but I miss the sherry. If high alcohol is desired along with a Sherry monster, I would definitely recommend the Aberlour A'bunadh. My personal favorite Speyside is Glenfarclas with the 12 YO probably in the price range (though if you could swing the 17 YO I would recommend spending the money).

Highland Park is a nice way to step into the peatier scotches. You won't get the full force of a typical Islay and the sherry is nice for those of us who like the sherried Speysides.

If you don't mind straying from the single malts, I really like the Jon, Mark and Robbo vatted whisky's for very nice flavor for the money. Don't have the descriptions handy buy at least one of them has some Irish in addtion to the scotch. Also can't go wrong with Compass Box vatted products IMHO.

Tom

Megawatt
01-15-2008, 16:45
Too many recommendations on the A'bunadh for me not to get it. I just wish you'd all shut up about the prices, because in Canada we pay extremely high taxes on our booze, and now I feel like I'm getting ripped off ;). Anyway, thanks for all of your opinions, as I think it finally made up my mind...

Luna56
01-15-2008, 16:51
Of the two you listed, I'd recommend the Balvenie 15. It's a single barrel, 100 proof whiskey and the two bottles I've had were perfection.
Cheers!

ratcheer
01-15-2008, 16:51
I have a bottle of The Balvenie 15-year old and I love it.

Tim

Megawatt
01-15-2008, 19:00
Thanks for the input! I really want the A'bunadh but it looks like it is sold out in my area, as it was a limited buy at the LCBO, so I may go for the Balvenie after all...

ACDetroit
01-15-2008, 19:42
Not sure if you can get it in Canada but if you can get a bottle of Oban 14 you can not go wrong! Should be in the same price range as your other selections!

Tony

Mamba
01-16-2008, 00:34
The Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel
The Macallan Cask Strength

I have owned both of those bottles in the past few years. I far prefer the Balvenie 15 SB. The Macallan CS is fine, especially with a little water to soften the sherry bomb, but it isn't on the level of the Balvenie. I also own Highland Park 12 and 18, but still prefer the memories of the Balvenie (RIP).

A local store just had the Balvenie 15 on sale for $42 after Xmas. I have too many bottles in my bunker, but I know I'll be kickin myself down the road for not grabbing one at that price.

Megawatt
01-16-2008, 04:52
I have owned both of those bottles in the past few years. I far prefer the Balvenie 15 SB. The Macallan CS is fine, especially with a little water to soften the sherry bomb, but it isn't on the level of the Balvenie. I also own Highland Park 12 and 18, but still prefer the memories of the Balvenie (RIP).

A local store just had the Balvenie 15 on sale for $42 after Xmas. I have too many bottles in my bunker, but I know I'll be kickin myself down the road for not grabbing one at that price.


I said shut up about the prices! The Balvenie 15 is $105 where I live, even with the dollar practically at par.

But thanks for the input. Most people seem to agree that the Balvenie SB is a better whisky.

mier
01-16-2008, 05:09
GO FOR THE HIGHLAND PARK 18yo!!!But the Oban 14yo from Tony is very good too,another is the Oban distillers choice,try them you love them!
Eric.

ACDetroit
01-16-2008, 10:34
Since Eric chimed in I state one bottle he turned me on to and it is a winner for sure! Goes great with a SMOKE.

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist: It's a 16 year old and just a fantastic bottle! Also not cheap!

Tony

Megawatt
01-16-2008, 10:38
Since Eric chimed in I state one bottle he turned me on to and it is a winner for sure! Goes great with a SMOKE.

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist: It's a 16 year old and just a fantastic bottle! Also not cheap!

Tony

Does it go great with a smoke because it tastes like smoke? I haven't delved into Islays yet, and quite frankly I'm rather afraid to...

whiskydude
01-16-2008, 19:03
I purchased the Macallen CS but it was a duty free selection from the plane. Ok, but lots of sherry and it was good for the price, but not as good to my taste as the Nadurra. The Nadurra is lighter in mouthfeel if that makes sense. A little more smoke and peat comes thru without all the sherry. It was great last summer even in the heat. I can't comment (unfortunately) on the Balvanie 15 as I haven't had it recently enough to remember! It's been 5 or 6 years but at the time I remember that my friend and I preferred it to the DW 12Yr, but liked the 10 year Founders' Reserve just as well for less money. The Abundah was tied with the Nadurra for our top choice of the three CS whiskies referenced. I don't think you will be disappointed with any of the ones you've mentioned. I will leave out the prices at your request.....you deserve it as you are paying a premium!

:toast:

ACDetroit
01-16-2008, 20:42
Does it go great with a smoke because it tastes like smoke? I haven't delved into Islays yet, and quite frankly I'm rather afraid to...

It is a little smokey but they really played off each other and it was good! I'm not a Scotch guy and bought this on a recommendation from Eric. It was my first Single Malt in my collection and I really like it!

Tony

dcb
01-17-2008, 06:34
a few favortie scotches: Highland Park 18 (and the 12), Lagavulin 16, Ardbeg, Talisker. mostly the island distilleries. I don't like the very heavily sherried malts like Macallan.

drrich1965
01-17-2008, 15:56
Lots of good advice. Staying true to your Speyside theme, you might also want to go for Glenfarclas 12. A very underrated dram, very blanced. good sherry charicter with a hint of peat, a nice malty center. The whole Farclas line is tops, and great for the money. I far prefer the Balvenie 15, or the 12 for that matter, to any of the standard Sherry Macallans. In truth, I have not really liked a Sherry Macallan since the older 18s or the 25s, or some older Indys..

Now, since we have spoken of the Ardbeg "beast" it is fantastic. If you do buy it, this is one that needs a good month to open up- it shows its complexity after some oxidation. For those of you are are also Ardbeg Fans, the Ellenstown at Binnys is a cask strenght Ardbeg for $55...

As others have said, HP is wonderful stuff. I have tried about 12 expressions, and have only had one that has been less then good, most a very good to excellent. M. Jackson said it was the best "all arounder" which to me is true, in the sense that it has hits on so many smell/taste elements (sweet malt, spicy sherry, deep peat, ect).

The Nadurra is great stuff-Glenlivet should not be disparaged to be being common. This is espeically true for the older indy bottles, which can be complex beyond your dreams, and reasonble.

Also, do not forget the Glenfiddich 15. Its a wonderful dream- the 12 is average at best.

I am about to enjoy a 25 year old Milburn, from the Rare Malt Series- a sample from a trading buddy..

Oh, and here is my score and notes for the Ellenstown and the "beast"..sorry for the sprawling notes, I see tasting notes as being as much about the experience as the whisky.


89
Sm
Ellenstown 10yo "bastard Ardbeg" (58%, Marshall's whiskies, NCNCF)
February 7th. Third time out with this lovely, and it just gets better. With just a dash of water, the nose is wonderfully balanced. Sweet malt, citrus and ozone. The smokiness fade in and out. A hint of cocoa Mouth: Congruent with the nose. Wow, this is ardbeg. Smoked oranges, dry biscuits. Powerful, the joy of a cask strength, you control how much it unleashes its power, and this is a strong malt. This really is fantastic stuff. I did not get its complexity the first time out, but this is as good OB 10. Save for the intensity of it, I would have thought this was a bit older. I am embarrassed to say that when I first tasked it upon opening, I thought nosed it, I thought it was Bowmore. Just goes to show how new I am at this. But I will tell you, this is purely one fine Ardbeg.

89
Sm
Ardbeg 16yo Airigh Nam Beist (46%, OB)
January 6th, At Nihon, in S.F, on my night out with Jim, Jen, and Eleni. What a wonderful evening, and a damn fine malt to start it off. This was a night filled with laughter and joy, a special night out with old friends in the city that I love not the way that one loves a place, but a member of your family. However, this restaurant shows some of the cities cracks, and some of its paradoxes. Good food, but the sashimi not nearly as good as our favorite places in other cities, and at twice the price. An outstanding malt and whisky collection of about 100, but the prices were nearly obscene for some. The bar tender was nice, but not truly malt knowledgeable. Their selection being not nearly as impressive as he things it is, saying that they had "anything that I would want." Hardly, not a distillery that I have not tried. Whatever. Now, being able to try the newly famed "Beast" was a pleasure. I did not take tasting notes as I was at dinner, but this is good stuff. Not as gentle as people have said, fairly middle of the road Ardbeg in power. More pepper in the middle than I would have thought. Almost as if Ardbeg ten was vatted with an older, gentler Talisker. Good balance with some nice malt. The nose was very nice, but not as seductive as the Ardbeg greats. Very fine malt. May 15th, a couple of drams of it. The finish has really nice pepper to it, as does the middle, as noted. This is a very, very good whisky, as stated before. The finish stays a long time, which is its strength.

Megawatt
01-17-2008, 16:54
Great post. I feel like I need to try an Islay to broaden my horizons, but I'm afraid that I will hate it at first. What would you recommend?

Too bad the Nadurra isn't available here (yet). I think The Glenlivet 12 is great fo the price, definitely better than Glenfiddich 12 anyway.

I'm hesitant to even touch Ardbeg after reading tasting notes that described aromas of tar, kelp, etc.

Frodo
01-18-2008, 11:48
Hi Megawatt:

The LCBO stores will sometimes do an "interstore transfer" for you, shipping a bottle of something from somewhere else to a store near where you live. You may wish to ask your local store if they would do this for your Abelour CS that you want. The LCBO has delisted this bottling so you may wish to get more than one bottle to bunker. Other Scotches you may wish to do the same with that are currently on sale...

Balvenie Portwood 1991 @ $75
Clan Denny Speyside @ $70
Glenmorangie 15 (new wood finish)

The only other scotch I can recommend that has a time-limited window of opportunity would be the Glenmorangie Portwood. NO ONEW I know who has tried this has been dissapointed!

Frodo
01-18-2008, 11:50
Great post. I feel like I need to try an Islay to broaden my horizons, but I'm afraid that I will hate it at first. What would you recommend?

If you want to try something coastal, I'd recommend a Bowmore to start with, or a Highland Park. Both are smoky but with other flavours balancing them out. Like dipping your toe in the water to sus out temperature so to speak.

Megawatt
01-18-2008, 11:59
Hi Megawatt:

The LCBO stores will sometimes do an "interstore transfer" for you, shipping a bottle of something from somewhere else to a store near where you live. You may wish to ask your local store if they would do this for your Abelour CS that you want. The LCBO has delisted this bottling so you may wish to get more than one bottle to bunker. Other Scotches you may wish to do the same with that are currently on sale...

Balvenie Portwood 1991 @ $75
Clan Denny Speyside @ $70
Glenmorangie 15 (new wood finish)

The only other scotch I can recommend that has a time-limited window of opportunity would be the Glenmorangie Portwood. NO ONEW I know who has tried this has been dissapointed!

Yeah, I just found out that they can do transfers and requested a bottle of a'bunadh for my local store. Now I just have to cross my fingers and wait. Thanks for the other recommendations...

Chilled
01-18-2008, 12:26
Wow, what a can of worms. But so true.. There are big differences from one region to another.
Highland Park 12 year is a great starter bottle, Should be reasonably priced even in Canada. I almost feel it is one of the more sweeter scotches short of some of the specialty casked and barreled.
Balvinie Double wood is another You should try.
A nice surprise was The Dalwhinnie 15 ( a bit more smokey)
And the Macallan, I would stick at first to the 12 yr before you try other expressions in it's line, always nice to see what they started with.
But Then, It will ultimatly be decided by your pallate.
Best of luck.

drrich1965
01-18-2008, 13:17
Some people take to peat right away, some need time. I have found some newcomers to malt love Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig right of the bat, some need time. Caol Ila 12 is a good place to start- medium peat with some nice sweetness for balance...

As far as the Macallan 12- opinions differ greatly. I just hate the current 12- I think the quality of Macallan's sherry casks are poor, at present. One can taste a massive differnece between the current 12 and other bottlelings- I would avoid, or try at a bar first. I think it is about the worst thing out there- but your YMMV. I actaully enjoy the new fine Oak 15- it shows what a very good, rich malt macallan stills produce. The Elegancia, in duty free, is a middle ground. Again, Abelour Abundah, Farclas, and Balvenia Double wood are all far better..

Someone above suggetsed the Bowmore 12- I really like that malt. Another love it or hate it, Bowmore in general. If at first you don't like it, let it opn up some.

Megawatt
01-18-2008, 16:40
Thanks again for the suggestions. I have a bottle of Highland Park 12, and while I think it has nice flavour and a fantastic nose, there is a slight medicinal note in the finish that throws me off a bit sometimes. Yet I still find myself wanting more...

I tried The Macallan 12 once at a bar and thought it was quite nice, very reminiscent of The Balvenie Doublewood, but I was comparing by memory, which is hardly reliable. I really like that Doublewood. I'm working on my first Macallan now, the Fine Oak 10. It's quite nice, though a little syrupy-sweet. Reminds me a bit of bourbon, to be honest.

I started this thread because I have some money from Christmas and wanted to try a slightly higher-end bottle, preferably a cask-strength to get the most bang for my buck. I'm hoping that my local store can obtain the Aberlour A'bunadh for me. If not, it's back to square one...

Too many whiskies, too little money...I also want to try some of the following:

Scapa 14
Auchentoshan 10
Glenmorangie 10
Talisker 10

SingleBarrel
01-19-2008, 16:34
As to your initial question, I definitely prefer the Balvenie SB 15 - it's one I keep coming back to without disappointment. But if you are also asking about an Islay to try, look at the Bruichladdich line (I like the 12 or the 15) - distinctly different from the usual islay scotches. As to the discussion about the A'bunadh, I think it's a very unique whiskey, but so unique that I wouldn't be comparing it to any of the others mentioned. All the talk about it has me ready for a dram tonight though (and I do have about two drinks left in the bottle I have!).

Megawatt
01-19-2008, 17:11
Good God, I just tried Lagavulin 16, my first Islay. I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon...

T47
01-19-2008, 19:57
I think from your reaction, Lagavulin must be full of "Peat"! Not my cup of tea either, but I will never say never because there was a time I disliked Bourbon as well.
In my limited tastings I think there are much more drastic differences in Scotch than in Bourbon, at least with those "Peat Monsters"...they certainly are different. But I guess some people might find the "Sherry Monsters" as unappealing as well.
I have only had a few of the Glenmorangie bottles, and find them to be much lighter, maybe more "middle of the road" if there is such a thing in the Scotch world?
Anyhow, enjoy your continued exploration!

:toast:

CrispyCritter
01-19-2008, 20:06
I've liked single malts whether they were plain, peated, or sherried. That being said, I can understand that some might be put off by peat. If you are interested in trying something that has some peat but don't want to dive off the Islay deep end (e.g. Laphroaig, Ardbeg, or Lagavulin), I'd recommend starting off with a Highland Park 12 or 15, or one of the lightly-peated standard Bruichladdich offerings (note that 3-D and Moine Mhor are heavily peated). Talisker is a step up on the smoke scale, and the 18yo Talisker is well worth the price.

For the classic Highland style, Balvenie and Clynelish are excellent choices. I've only had Balvenie's 15yo single-barrel, but it's a treat.

Speyside - well, I wasn't overly impressed with a Macallan CS that I had - I'd rather go for Aberlour A'Bunadh instead, if I'm looking for a sherry monster. Glenrothes also makes some lovely pours. I had a 1974 Glenrothes that was out of this world - but alas, it's no longer to be found.

Yellowjacket
01-19-2008, 21:39
First, there has been some very good advice given here and you can’t go wrong with any of it. Megawatt, I’m assuming you are not too experienced with single malts (if not, are there any you particularly like?). Do you have a good bar near by with good whisky selections, if so trying samples there can save a lot of money versus buying a lot of bottles.

If you try the Balvenie 15 and like it, I suggest you also consider the Glenfarclas 17 yo, it is very smooth and very drinkable, a great dram. To explore peat gradually I recommend a Highland Park, the 18 year old is much better than the 12, IMO. If you find this satisfactory, then move on to either a Talisker 18 or Bowmore 17, both of which are very nice and not over-powering with peat. One thing to remember is that, in general, age mellows out peatiness, so a 17 or 18 year old will generally have a more palatable peat for someone new to the experience. If you grow into it, then move towards the younger peat whiskies. Yes, the Lag 16 might be considered ‘older’ but still has a powerful peat character, but the age provides greater balance and smoothness. You have to explore and do some research. Let us know what you like and don’t like and we can certainly make further suggestions!

Cheers - Bob

mier
01-20-2008, 01:22
Good God, I just tried Lagavulin 16, my first Islay. I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon...

Well next time i suggest you try a Port Ellen or a Bunnahabainn first,the first time i tried a Lagavulin or a Laphfroig must have had the same expierence as you,start with milder single malts first.Islays are worth drinking believe me.
Eric.

Megawatt
01-20-2008, 07:53
I have a bottle of Highland Park 12, and I like it most of the time, but sometimes the medicinal note in the finish throws me off a bit. Some other single malts that I've tried and really liked are:

The Balvenie Doublewood
The Macallan 12
Glenkinchie 10
Dalwhinnie 15
Glenmorangie 10
Aberlour 12
The Glenlivet 12

I wanted to get my feet wet with a good Islay, so I tried a glass of Lagavulin 16 at a bar. I was expecting lots of peat, but this stufff tasted nothing but medicinal to me. It was like a liquified first aid kit; bandages, antiseptic, ointment for sore muscles. Some discernable notes of honeyed malt hidden somewhere in all that chaos, but unfortunately I could not get past the nose. My mom used to buy this ointment for disinfecting cuts, and I swear to God that it smelled EXACTLY like that Scotch. Who knows, maybe I will acquire a taste for it over time, once I get sick of the sweeter Speyside malts...

melting
01-20-2008, 09:32
I was going to recommend trying Scapa 14 year old from the Orkney Islands. However I was playing cards with my girlfriend and two kids last night when all of a sudden her son, (he's 10 years old), remarked that my drink smell to him like mommy's nail polish remover.

For around 35 bucks a bottle I think this is an excellent single malt well worth the money. I'm getting the feeling that when he's older he may not jump on to the single malt bandwagon.

Chris

Megawatt
01-20-2008, 12:30
I was going to recommend trying Scapa 14 year old from the Orkney Islands. However I was playing cards with my girlfriend and two kids last night when all of a sudden her son, (he's 10 years old), remarked that my drink smell to him like mommy's nail polish remover.

For around 35 bucks a bottle I think this is an excellent single malt well worth the money. I'm getting the feeling that when he's older he may not jump on to the single malt bandwagon.

Chris

There is a single-malt bandwagon? Scapa 14 is $55 where I live, still a relatively good price.

I'm just having my first glass of Auchentoshan 10 now. Funny, I wasn't expecting any smoke at all, based on the tasting notes I read, but I find it to be peatier and smokier than Highland Park. It has a good balance, though, showing fruit, honey and smokey peat in equal proportions. For lowland malts I would have to pick Glenkinchie 10 as the best I've tried. Far more expensive, mind you...

Yellowjacket
01-20-2008, 21:19
Megawatt, I think we now have a little better idea of where you are in your single malt journey. Let me warn you, exploring single malt scotches (as well as all whiskies) can be expensive and can quickly draw you into the experience so that you want to try more and more different varieties (I was going to use the term “addictive,” but it tends to convey the wrong impression in this case). However, as most here will tell you, it is well worth it.

The distilleries you listed are all very good and you might want to explore other expressions or ages within these distilleries. If you are interested in trying something new, with your current taste preferences, I absolutely recommend you try the Cragganmore 12 next, very smooth and restrained with a large number of subtle but wonderful flavors to explore. As several previously mentioned, also try a Glenfarclas, the 12 yo is good, but the 17 yo is superb if you can find it. If you can find a Longmorn 15 yo, it is also very good.

I have to say I'm a little surprised you found the Auchentoshan 10 to be smoky and peaty, but everyone experiences their whiskies a little different. Jim Murray’s 2008 Whiskey Bible mentions a new Auch. 12 yo 43% that has some smoke, but the rest of the line is generally considered not to be smoky. The Glengoyne distillery describes their whisky as having absolutely no smoke or peat. If your bar carries Glengoyne, give it a try, and see if you still experience smoke.

Let us know how things go and, if you like, we can make further suggestions.

Cheers – Bob

Megawatt
01-21-2008, 04:54
Thanks again for the recommendations. My problem is that I am limited to a certain budget, typically not more than $50-$60 per bottle. In Ontario, that only gets you a 10- or 12-year-old single malt. You're right, though. The Scotch obssession does get expensive, as my wife has been starting to notice ;). I'll look into Cragganmore next, perhaps...

I'm also surprised by the Auchentoshan, after reading comments by Jim Murray and others. Even the Auch. website makes no mention of smoke at all. I picked up a bottle for a friend, so I'll see if he notices the smoke as well.

whiskydude
01-21-2008, 08:02
My experience has been that the same scotch from the same bottle may not taste exactly the same on a different night. Certain flavors are either muted or become more dominant over different tasting sessions. I am not sure why, but I've noticed this (as have other friends) a few times with a variety of scotch; single malts and blends. Heck even a bourbon will do that. Hang on to the bottle of Auch, you'll pull it out one night down the road and be shocked at how much it has improved since last time. I always think the better stuff improves....Tried some Ballentine's again the other night and it was barely drinkable! The first time a few months ago, a friend and I thought it was quite good!

Megawatt
01-21-2008, 09:09
Yeah, funny how that is. I hate it when it takes me 3/4 of the bottle to start enjoying something, but it sometimes does...

Well, the LCBO couldn't procure a bottle of Aberlour A'bunadh for me, so it's back to square one. Looks like I'll be going with The Balvenie after all...

spun_cookie
01-21-2008, 20:52
Anyone have an opinion on Aberlout Cask Strength... It is the a'bunadh 59.5% (119 proof)....?

Megawatt
01-22-2008, 04:51
Anyone have an opinion on Aberlout Cask Strength... It is the a'bunadh 59.5% (119 proof)....?


It was mentioned a few times in this thread, plus in another thread I started a while back. Do a search and I'm sure you will find some opinions...

whiskydude
01-23-2008, 19:38
It was mentioned a few times in this thread, plus in another thread I started a while back. Do a search and I'm sure you will find some opinions...

What he said, but here's a quick opinion....it's good. If you like a sherry finish you have found your Scotch. I would certainly buy again.

boss302
01-27-2008, 21:50
I'm in the market for a good bottle, and two of my main considerations are:

The Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel
The Macallan Cask Strength

They are about the same price. The Macallan is stronger but The Balvenie is older. Has anyone tried them both? If so, which did you prefer?

Of course, I'm not limited to these two. Also considering the likes of Highland Park 18, The Macallan Fine Oak 15, not sure what else to look at...


Let's see, where to start... *very* much an avid scotch drinker here.

Are you looking for something smokey? Something briney? Something sweet? Something fruity?

Scotch whisky has a lot of variation, almost more so than red wine, in my humble opinion.

As for Speyside malts, I suggest starting with something like Cragganmore, which is a fairly sweet, honey-like spirit. From there, you can move to something with a light Sherry influence like the Glenfiddich 15-year Solera Reserve. From there, you can move to something robust and heavily-sherried, like the MacAllan.

If you are interested in wood finishing, nobody tops Glenmorangie. Start with their 10-year Original, which is matured exclusively in American White Oak. I ALWAYS keep a bottle of this around. From there, you can step up to any of their 3 12-year expressions-- Nectar D'or (Sauternes finish), LaSanta (Sherry finish), or Quinta Ruban (Port finish). Their 18-year is matured initially in American oak, then finished in Spanish oak.

If you want to branch out to some more exotic whiskies, you can start with the Glenkinchie 10-year, which is one of the last of the Lowland distillieries, which typically have a "greener", more herbal taste to them.

You could also try a maritime malt, such as the Clynelish 14-year and Oban 14-year, which have a slightly "briney" taste to them, thanks to the casks' exposure to the sea air.

Highland Park is a good all-rounder, with a medium body and a fairly gentle smokiness. This is Michael Jackson's personal favorite. I tend to gravitate to the 15-year, myself.

My personal favorite scotch whisky is the Talisker. The smoke level is moderate in this very powerful spirit, which possesses an almost paprika-like spiciness to it, in my opinion.

Then, of course, there are the Islay (pronounced "eye"-luh) malts. Caol Ila 12-year is a good one to start off with, as its lighter body is reminiscent of the lighter Speysides we are all familiar with, like the Glenfiddich. The heaviest and smokiest would have to be the Lagavulin.


I hope this helps you out a little bit. Be sure to let us know what you decide on.

Megawatt
01-28-2008, 04:54
I actually ended up going for The Arran Malt Single Cask in the cognac finish. It is damn good stuff! Not much of nose at full strength, but once I diluted it down to around 80-90 proof, it opened up wonderfully. I've never had a whisky transform so much in the glass. Each sip revealed new layers of creamy malt and rich fruit flavour. The cognac influence seems more subtle than the typical sherry cask flavour.

I tried Lagavulin 16 the other day, and was quite repulsed by it. It smelled just like an antiseptic that my mother used to have in her medicine cabinet. Obviously, I am not ready for the smokier malts yet. My next purchase will like be either Glenmorangie 10 or Scapa 14.

boss302
01-28-2008, 20:29
I actually ended up going for The Arran Malt Single Cask in the cognac finish. It is damn good stuff! Not much of nose at full strength, but once I diluted it down to around 80-90 proof, it opened up wonderfully. I've never had a whisky transform so much in the glass. Each sip revealed new layers of creamy malt and rich fruit flavour. The cognac influence seems more subtle than the typical sherry cask flavour.

I tried Lagavulin 16 the other day, and was quite repulsed by it. It smelled just like an antiseptic that my mother used to have in her medicine cabinet. Obviously, I am not ready for the smokier malts yet. My next purchase will like be either Glenmorangie 10 or Scapa 14.

I sooo want to try the Arran, but can't get it here!

Yeah, I love the Glenmorangie, as I said before, but I can also vouch for the Scapa 14. I think you will enjoy either one.

Megawatt
01-29-2008, 04:45
Since you mentioned Talisker; how does it compare in intensity to Lagavulin? Does it possess strong medical/iodine qualities?

DrinkyBanjo
01-29-2008, 05:44
Talisker is an island malt (Skye) but it is not an Islay. It has a very peppery taste to it and it quite 'extreme'. Nice and smokey too but no medicinal qualities as far as I'm concerned. Great whisky!

boss302
01-30-2008, 00:15
Talisker is an island malt (Skye) but it is not an Islay. It has a very peppery taste to it and it quite 'extreme'. Nice and smokey too but no medicinal qualities as far as I'm concerned. Great whisky!

I wouldn't quite describe it as "extreme"-- I find the spiciness rather intriguing. Talisker is not has heavily-smoked as any of the Islay malts, nor does it possess that "medicinal" or "seaweed" taste to it that seems to be an Islay signature (even in Caol Ila). But you are certainly not going to mistake it for a run-of-the-mill Speyside!

Megawatt
01-30-2008, 16:39
Good to know, thanks!

PAspirit1
02-01-2008, 12:59
Hey Megawatt,

I noticed you have a bottle or The Macallan F.O. 10. I'm finishing a bottle of that now. I like it. Another Speysider I've had good amount of is The Glenlivet French Oak 12. I like the latter more.

Megawatt
02-01-2008, 13:06
Hey Megawatt,

I noticed you have a bottle or The Macallan F.O. 10. I'm finishing a bottle of that now. I like it. Another Speysider I've had good amount of is The Glenlivet French Oak 12. I like the latter more.

Yeah, I'm about halfway through my bottle of Macallan Fine Oak. At first I found it almost too syrupy-sweet, but I've come to really like the flavour. It almost reminds me of a sweeter bourbon at times. I've never tried The Glenlivet French Oak, just the regular 12 year. I thought it was very nice for the price.

bigtoys
02-01-2008, 20:35
.....
My personal favorite scotch whisky is the Talisker. The smoke level is moderate in this very powerful spirit, which possesses an almost paprika-like spiciness to it, in my opinion.

Then, of course, there are the Islay (pronounced "eye"-luh) malts. Caol Ila 12-year is a good one to start off with, as its lighter body is reminiscent of the lighter Speysides we are all familiar with, like the Glenfiddich. The heaviest and smokiest would have to be the Lagavulin.....

Talisker is one of my favorites, too. Has a "smoky" taste.

The Islay malts are "peaty", that medicinal, iodine taste. I think that Lagavulin and Bowmore are on the lighter side. Laphroig is stronger and Ardbeg is even more--too much for me. Another scotch with some peat is Isle of Jura.

For more traditional single malts, Balvenie (vowels pronounced like "bad penny", I've read) Doublewood and Highland Park are excellent choices.

boss302
02-02-2008, 00:00
The Islay malts are "peaty", that medicinal, iodine taste. I think that Lagavulin and Bowmore are on the lighter side. Laphroig is stronger and Ardbeg is even more--too much for me. Another scotch with some peat is Isle of Jura.


The barley in Talisker has been smoked over peat (rotten bog wood and vegetation dug up from old riverbeds), like the Islays... just simply not as heavily-so.

The more medicinal taste in an Islay malt likely comes from a myriad of other factors as well.

Caol Ila is the lightest of the Islays I've tried so far, though I have yet to try Bunnahabain, Ardbeg, or Bruichladdich, as they are difficult to obtain in my state. If you are new to Islay malts, Caol Ila would be my recommendation.

Bowmore is probably the most "well-rounded" of the Islay malts, and is bottled in a very broad range of expressions.

Laphroaig is probably the most "medicinal" tasting, but, after taking some time with it, a little bit of water unlocks a pleasant sweetness.

Lagavulin isn't as "medicinal" tasting as Laphroaig, but I find it the most heavily-smoked. The peat is very full and rich in this one, in my opinion.




For more traditional single malts, Balvenie (vowels pronounced like "bad penny", I've read) Doublewood and Highland Park are excellent choices.

Ah, somebody has been reading the excellent works of Michael Jackson, I see. Before I read that book, I had been pronouncing it "Bal-vee-nee." The Celts and the Romans hated each other, and I feel this is reflected by the fact that Celtic languages, like Scotch-Gaelic, does not transpose well into the Latin alphabet...

From Balvenie's website, it looks like the "Founder's Reserve" 10-year (one of my favorite everyday pours) had been discontinued. The 12-year "Double Wood" now appears to be the primary expression.

whiskydude
02-02-2008, 08:19
.......
From Balvenie's website, it looks like the "Founder's Reserve" 10-year (one of my favorite everyday pours) had been discontinued. The 12-year "Double Wood" now appears to be the primary expression.

Yikes! Sorry to hear it's being discontinued. The "Founder's Reserve" was the first Single malt I ever purchased and it got me hooked. I thought it was a great label and expression to introduce someone to single malt scotch. I always kept a bottle on hand, but started branching out in my tastes the past two or three years. Hopefully I will find a bottle or two to keep for a rainy day.

Yellowjacket
02-02-2008, 13:01
Yikes! Sorry to hear it's being discontinued. The "Founder's Reserve" was the first Single malt I ever purchased and it got me hooked. I thought it was a great label and expression to introduce someone to single malt scotch. I always kept a bottle on hand, but started branching out in my tastes the past two or three years. Hopefully I will find a bottle or two to keep for a rainy day.

I've heard the Balvenie 10 yo Founder's Reserved is not being discontinued entirely, but will be sold only in the duty free shops. When this starts, I'm not sure.

drrich1965
02-02-2008, 13:02
Nice post Boss on Islay malts. As a big time Isay fan, let me say that your appeciation of Caol Ila is spot on. Caol Ila can vary, however, from more heavily peated to very lightly peated- it is the work hourse of the Islays in terms of blending- so they various peating levels. Also, Caol Ilas oiliness seems to, IMHO, give it a good deal of body when it is young- I just love them in the 7-9 year range. That being said, they also can be wonderuf when they are old. Here are my tasting notes for two "older" Coal Ilas.

91
Sm
Coal Ila 23yo Rare Malts. 61.7%. Bottle 3813. (dist 1978 bott 05/2002)
November 12, 2007. Well, tasted my oldest malt to date a few minutes ago, now one I have wanted to taste for some time. Nose: Powerful. Complex as complex can be. Meat, pepper, peat, something almost meaty, feinty, but nice. Wow. Mouth: Would have thought this was a very austere Port Ellen. White pepper, peat, like a hot wind blowing down your throat, blowing into your mind, your soul, oh my. This is one of those malts that is intense even for those how have long become accustomed to malt. A reminder to my early days of malt, when I was blown away by the intensity of some Islays, like the first time having a Lagavulin. This is special. Just a hint of sweetness at the finish for balance and complexity, a very coy sweetness. Finish: More pepper, more intensity, some oaky dryness. One that explains, at least a bit, why someone (an accountant most likely, but non the less) thought this could replace PE. This is very similar.
88
Sm
Caol Ila 1979 19yo (43%, G & M, Cooper's Choice)
May 3, 2007. Particularly smooth for a Caol Ila. The years have mellowed it out. It still retains if fire, as this is one that has a great deal of peat. The finish is very long, straight ahead, and satisfying. The nose is more complex, with some sweet malt notes to provide the foil to the musty peat. Old books and leather. This one is really nice. On second tasting, what I get from the nose is actually very farmy. Wet hay that lingers. I love the contrast with the mouth, which is peaty and dry, with a bit of sweetness at the end. I am not sure why I never score Caol Ila in the nineties; as in some ways it is one of my favorite malt. While some people are turned off from the oily body, I just love it!

Bowmore, as you say, is one that is more of a middle of the road Islay- it also seems to get mix results. I have tired 15 expressions to date, and I rate all from average to fantastic..The 12 year old in the new packages is very nicely balanced.

As you mentioned, most Laddie's are not very peated, and only a few Bunnaha' are as well.

Not having tried Ardbeg, I reccomend finding some way of getting on of the 10 year olds before they are replaced with the new packaging- classic..

All this talk of Islays, I think I will have a bit of my Signatory 7 year old Laphroigh- as I said, don't pass on the young Islays!

PS- The concpet of "traditional" in single malts is abit tough. If you go back a century, most Speysides (i.e. Balvenie), were in all likeyhood moderatly peated, or at least slightly so... Old Macallans and Glen Gariochs are evidence of this..they are smokey, without being medicinal, like some of the Islays.

That said, the Balvenie 10 is a good pour, are are most Balvenies..the 21 Port wood is a stunner- a bit steep in terms of price. The 12 and 15 are lovely as well, with the 12 being a bit heavier on the sherry...I have not had the new 17 year old Sherry, I hear it is good, but I am not a fan of the "sherry monsters".

boss302
02-03-2008, 00:22
Nice post Boss on Islay malts. As a big time Isay fan, let me say that your appeciation of Caol Ila is spot on. Caol Ila can vary, however, from more heavily peated to very lightly peated- it is the work hourse of the Islays in terms of blending- so they various peating levels. Also, Caol Ilas oiliness seems to, IMHO, give it a good deal of body when it is young- I just love them in the 7-9 year range. That being said, they also can be wonderuf when they are old. Here are my tasting notes for two "older" Coal Ilas.


I'm sort of at the other end of the spectrum-- I like the interplay between the peat smoke, the sea salt, and a robust woodiness. I like my Islay malts generally around 15 years. The Lagavulin 16 is probably my favorite, though the Laphroaig 15 and Bowmore 17 are also thoroughly enjoyable.

But, I have to confess-- Bowmore's most interesting expressions, like Dawn, and Dusk, are NSA, and therefore probably somewhat young.

It's interesting you bring up younger Islays, as that is what seems to be the real trend lately. Older Speysides are growing in demand, but on Islay, it seems the younger ones are sort of stealing the show.




PS- The concpet of "traditional" in single malts is abit tough. If you go back a century, most Speysides (i.e. Balvenie), were in all likeyhood moderatly peated, or at least slightly so... Old Macallans and Glen Gariochs are evidence of this..they are smokey, without being medicinal, like some of the Islays.



Don't forget that the earliest Scotch whiskies were matured in Sherry casks exclusively. By that measure, the only truely "traditional" single malt is the MacAllan.

The use of American oak in Scotland is still a very recent development.

Megawatt
02-03-2008, 15:50
I can't believe that Lagavulin is on the lighter side of Islay malts. I could not get past the medicinal nose, and I'm not sure that I ever will. As I've probably already mentioned, I picked up a bottle of Auchentoshan 10 Lowland malt, and even that is a little too smokey. It leaves the impression of having had ashes in your mouth. But I do find that I enjoy it on some perverse level, though...

To quickly mention a great blend; I picked up some Dewar's 12 on sale at $8 off, having never tried Dewar's before, and it is quite nice. Sweet and malty with just a touch of smoke. A very well-balanced dram...

Frodo
02-03-2008, 23:27
To quickly mention a great blend; I picked up some Dewar's 12 on sale at $8 off, having never tried Dewar's before, and it is quite nice. Sweet and malty with just a touch of smoke. A very well-balanced dram...

You got lucky here - must be a manager's sale at one specific shop. If you like it, you may want to stock up, as $32 for this is a great deal IMHO.

Megawatt
02-04-2008, 04:50
You got lucky here - must be a manager's sale at one specific shop. If you like it, you may want to stock up, as $32 for this is a great deal IMHO.


Quite right. Everything on the rack was 20% off, and at first I thought it was all wine, but then I noticed a bunch of these bottles. Seems like the best deals are store-specific...

mathews
02-04-2008, 13:12
I just purchased a bottle of Old Pulteney for $30. I could have bought a bottle of Laphroaig 15 for $55, but I wasn't sure if it was worth it.

Yellowjacket
02-04-2008, 19:22
I just purchased a bottle of Old Pulteney for $30. I could have bought a bottle of Laphroaig 15 for $55, but I wasn't sure if it was worth it.

Ahh, now we get into the highly philosophical realm of taste satisfaction (or threshold) versus cost benefit. Also known as “bang-for-the-buck.” Everyone’s taste preferences are different, so this tends to be a personal measurement. This all leads into me saying that what follows are my own opinions and values based on my own various experiences.

To begin, I personally find the Pultney 12 to be a very mediocre whisky. I personally believe the Laphraoig 15 is a much superior single malt, but at a definite cost increase. (By the way, Michael Jackson leans my way but Jim Murray totally disagrees; again, a personal thing) The Pultney 12 shows its youth. It tends to be bland with not much character or complexity, for me it’s hard to find much that distinguishes it, although there is a nice subtle brininess to it, but there’s simply nothing for it interact with to enhance it. The Laph 15, on the other hand, is very smooth and drinkable. There is a good peatiness that the extra age has tamed nicely and a hint of sweetness that compliments the peat. If you want, in my opinion, a better bang-for-the-buck of the same general style and cost as the Old Pultney 12 try a Highland Park 12 or Scapa 14.

Since I tend to drink my whisky in small quantities at a time, I generally am willing to spend a little more for what I consider a better dram. I am also one of those who usually enjoy the slightly older expressions, in the 15 to 18 year age range for single malt scotch, because for me it tends to make the whisky smoother and develop more character. For example, the Old Pultney 17, IMHO, is much superior to the 12 year old. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule. And others prefer the younger, more robust ones. Again, a personal thing.

Cheers - Bob

mathews
02-04-2008, 19:41
Sure, I agree with your assessment, for the most part. I actually prefer smoky & peaty. But, for the $30 I find myself stuck. Isn't HP12 much more than that?

doubleblank
02-04-2008, 19:46
Highland Park 12 is under $32 here in Houston. Right now the packaging has a HP18 50ml sample included in the box. Now that's an easy sell. I bought one today.

Randy

mathews
02-04-2008, 19:50
That's a great deal. It's about 35-40 in the Fort Wayne area. Unfortunately, my budget is $30.

drrich1965
02-04-2008, 20:29
That's a great deal. It's about 35-40 in the Fort Wayne area. Unfortunately, my budget is $30.

For 30 bucks and peaty, try the Bowmore Legend. Its a young Islay, which as I have said before- I really enjoy. In their youngin' years (said in my 3 year old NC accent, ha!), Islays are bright, in your face, and peaty as all get go. It is after time and the influence of wood that the peat becomes more "balanced" with other elements, so young Islays are in your face. I actaully had an amazing 5 year old that was a bastard malt, in all likleyhood Caol Ila (although "they say" Lagavulin).

Even cheaper is the Macllendons Islay for about $22- I have found that to vary. Reportedly a 4-5 year Bowmore- the Legend is about 6 years old.

Someone mentioned Lagavulin 16 being a lighter Islay- that is not my experience. Big peat, sweet malt, heavy vanilla influence-its big a big, powerful malt, more balanced than it is given credit too- one of my all time favorites..

Caol Ila 12 is way underrated as well- and it ranges in price greatly depending upon where you are.

Also, the Old Pulteney 12 I had was a 2005 expression, but I found it fairly nice. Here is my tasting narrative for that one..

Score 83 (makes reccomendable in my book)

Old Pulteney 12yo (40%, OB, circa 2005)
Gee, this is a surprise. The nose is fresh, of the sea, salty. Reminds me a touch of a Laddie'. The mouth, also fresh. A touch of peat. Salty, long on the mouth, on the finish. This is a really nice dram, one that can be savored. A complex dram, and very unique.

Of course, in my book, there are very few bad SMs, a Deanston here, or Fettecarin there aside..

Yellowjacket
02-04-2008, 21:21
All very good comments. I think DrRich made an excellent suggestion with the Bowmore Legend. Here in Houston it goes for $23. You might also look for a Black Bottle Original (with no age statement, not the 10 year old). It is a blend that contains all or most of the Islay whiskies and is very good. It has recently been introduced in the Houston area and goes for $23.

Mathews, let us know what you think about the Pult(e)ney 12. Heck (he says with a Texas twang), ol' DrRich might just be onto something!

mathews
02-05-2008, 08:09
Here are my notes for Old Pulteney 12:
Appearance-pale gold with a touch of pink
Nose- burnt wood, honey, salt; unlike any other SMSW I have tried
Palate- thick, oily, sweet & salty
Finish- long, salt overtakes the sweet
Comments- this is a delicious and flavorful dram; and at $30 OP 12 is an excellent buy!
Blessings,
mathews

Yellowjacket
02-05-2008, 08:28
Here are my notes for Old Pulteney 12:
Appearance-pale gold with a touch of pink
Nose- burnt wood, honey, salt; unlike any other SMSW I have tried
Palate- thick, oily, sweet & salty
Finish- long, salt overtakes the sweet
Comments- this is a delicious and flavorful dram; and at $30 OP 12 is an excellent buy!
Blessings,
mathews

Thank you for the notes. I'll have to try OP 12 again. Maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind when I tried it before.

Bob

mathews
02-05-2008, 08:42
Well, that's a funny thing about whiskeys. It seems to me that the quality control is touch and go from bottle to bottle, let alone from cask to cask.
mathews

AVB
02-05-2008, 13:16
I did a review of OP on another site if you want to read it here (http://www.cigarpass.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=21309)

mathews
02-05-2008, 13:23
Good review. BTW- I lived in Hanover, PA during 90-91; beautiful area.

PAspirit1
02-06-2008, 06:28
Ahh, now we get into the highly philosophical realm of taste satisfaction (or threshold) versus cost benefit. Also known as “bang-for-the-buck.”

In my case I have to allow for the fact that for each bottle of whiskey I purchase, an equal and oposite amount of shoes will be purchased by my wife. I think I'm joking.

barturtle
02-06-2008, 09:10
In my case I have to allow for the fact that for each bottle of whiskey I purchase, an equal and oposite amount of shoes will be purchased by my wife. I think I'm joking.

So you buy two bottles, she gets one pair of shoes...could be worse:lol:

PAspirit1
02-06-2008, 09:39
So you buy two bottles, she gets one pair of shoes...could be worse:lol:


Lol. Good one, but she's too smart for that deal.