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View Full Version : So... I bought my first Single Malt Scotch and....



OldJack
05-11-2008, 14:09
... I hate it.

I bought a bottle of Speyburn 10 year old. I know the reviews are mixed, but the bad reviews I have read mostly complain that the Speyburn 10 lacks in flavor and complexity. Several reviews I read said that they thought it had a nice flavor, just not enough of it. So I figured, this would be a safe entry into Single Malts- a low-cost and entry-level whisky which wouldn't overwhelm my senses.

I was dead wrong. From the very first sip, I was taken aback by an abrasive harshness followed by a most unpleasant, sour, dirt-and-mold-like flavor I never though possible from a malt-based product. (I brew my own beer- I know a thing or two about malted barley. But this stuff- ugh.)

I tried to drink it neat. I tried to drink it on the rocks. I tried adding a slash of water. I tried making a Rob Roy. No dice. I just flat hate this stuff.

The best way I can describe this whisky is thusly: if you put a Kingsford briquet in an unwashed, sweaty gym sock and pour a bottle of Bushmill's through the sock, you've got Speyburn 10.

I put the bottle back in the nifty canister in came in, put it away, and got out some bourbon to exorcise the demons.

CorvallisCracker
05-11-2008, 14:16
The best way I can describe this whisky is thusly: if you put a Kingsford briquet in an unwashed, sweaty gym sock and pour a bottle of Bushmill's through the sock, you've got Speyburn 10.


Would that Kingsford briquet be the plain type, or the kind infused with lighter fluid?

OldJack
05-11-2008, 14:22
It didn't taste at all like lighter fluid- though that might have helped.

drrich1965
05-11-2008, 17:42
I have a bottle open now, and really dislike it also. It is harsh, and just not pleseant. This contrasts to a botteling I had two years ago- which was mellow, malty and really decent stuff. Please don't let this be year last bottle of single malt- so many are so wonderful. For an great inexpensive bottle, Glenfarclas 12 is hard to beat. Dalmore 12 is very nice as well, both should be around 35 bucks or so, depending upon your markert.

OldJack
05-11-2008, 17:53
I'm sure I'll give Scotch another go- but I plan to try a few out in a high-end bar. I'd rather buy a $12 pour than a $40 at this point.

PAspirit1
05-11-2008, 18:56
I didn't like my first bottle much either.

ThomasH
05-11-2008, 19:30
Try some Glenfiddich 12 or 15 yr. These are 2 of my favorites and are available just about everywhere!

Thomas

Gillman
05-11-2008, 19:43
I've had Speyburn and I think it is a good example of a malt on the younger end of the spectrum. It has a hearty taste and texture. It probably was meant to be taken iced or with soda in a whisky-soda. I've given examples in another thread of how I think this can be vatted (by the way is Speyburn itself a vatting, I don't recall?). By adding a little concentrated malt which accentuates the sherry side or the peat side (maybe these can be purchased in minis) I think you would get a drink that exhibited some features of the older malts. If you added a mini each of Glenlivet and Aberlour to it, and ideally one of any well-peated malt, I think it would be very good (say 2:2:2:20). Or cut the Speyburn with Canadian whisky, in effect you would be making a blended scotch-type drink (say 1:2 in that order).

Gary

Gillman
05-11-2008, 19:54
Just a note which leads in to a thread I'm thinking of starting about the pros and cons of water (as added to whiskey).

A whiskey that has an objectionable feature for some, say it is too chemical/harsh or too woody or too peated or too spirity, often will show considerable improvement when water is added. The water provides a display function, it dilutes the negative feature, in effect transforms it. Sometimes it will accentuate what is "wrong", but more often in my experience the opposite is true.

A recent vatting of Sazerac rye and JD Single Barrel was superb with a splash of water added. It is still plenty strong, but much improved.

I found the same with a recent dram of 1792 which seemed a little spirity - a dash of water solved that and revealed underlying complexities in the drink.

For those who do not want to reduce the strength factor or by very much, adding vodka ofetn works wonders in my experience.

E.g. I wonder what that Speyburn would be like 2:1 with a good vodka.

Gary

Gov
05-11-2008, 19:57
I disliked scotch (basically all whisk(e)y) the first few times I tried it no matter what I did with it. This was over a several year period too! Anyway, I decided to try it again last October by having some Black Bush. That led into my first scotch (Teachers) then to SMS and now starting into bourbon (which is slowly growing on me). Whisk(e)y is definately an aquired taste, much more than anything else I have ever imbibed. My first single malt was The Glenlivet 12 and Glenmorangie 10. I liked both very much and still do. Around the same time I had The Macallan 12 and disliked it :puke: But a few months later I came back to it and really like it now. So dont give up!
BTW, I have an unopened bottle of Speyburn 10. I hope when I open it, it will be at least decent enough to enjoy :shocked:

AVB
05-11-2008, 20:01
I recommend the Balvenie DoubleWood to those who wish to try Scotch for the first time.

Gillman
05-11-2008, 20:04
That's very true of whisky, that it is an acquired taste. It took me years to "get" the taste of single malt. Even relatively mild-tasting ones seemed like varsol and ashes or cinders. Even mild scotch blends seemed overpowering in taste. I did not come to terms with scotch until my later 30's (whereas I found bourbon much more approachable - however, straight rye offers more an analogy in this regard).

If I was starting with malts I'd start (as indeed I did back when) with Glenmorangie (the regular issue), Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Macallan, Aberlour, and Highland Park.

Gary

Gillman
05-11-2008, 20:04
And indeed Balvenie (any of them), excellent suggestion.


Gary

boss302
05-11-2008, 22:43
And indeed Balvenie (any of them), excellent suggestion.


Gary

Balvenie is probably the best bang-for-the-buck amongst Speyside/Highland whiskies, but many bars don't carry it, for some reason...

Anyway, the litmus test for whether or not you will like Scotch should probably be the Glenlivet 12-year. I think its flavor is somewhat lacking, but it has one of the best mouthfeels of all the Speyside/Highland malts. The best thing about it is that just about every bar in the world carries it.

Stu
05-12-2008, 01:36
The only thing I'll add to what has been said is that I love malts and I love them neat. However Speyburn is am exception to the rule. It improves dramatically with a little water, 4:1 malt to water. Try Gary's vatting suggestions. Don't judge all malt by Speyburn, that would be judging all bourbon by Woodford four grain (or whatever bourbon you detest).

LeoDLion
05-12-2008, 07:20
I was a blended scotch drinker for many years. One night in a party, the host opened a bottle of single malt Laphroaig. We all have a round to drink and everybody unanimously agreed that this bottle must be bad! It tasted like turpentine or iodine or medicine, what a blecch. We promptly put the bottle aside and open another one.

The host gave me the Laphroaig (fortunately) to take home. The next few days, I was having a dram from it. It still tasted like turpentine on Monday for the next 3 days but I keep on drinking it. On Friday night, I poured the same bottle. I tasted it. I look at the glass and examine the bottle because this time it tasted different. It was good! The strong turpentine taste is still there but its not offensive anymore. I felt a strong bodied whisky with a full body taste. There was this lingering aftertaste that I dont know at that time but it turned out to be peat. I like this bottle !!!

That was my 'acquired taste' period.

So dont give up. I am still in the 'thinking stage' on bourbon whisky. I have not acquired the taste for it but I know I will be starting on it some time soon. Laphroaig may not be a single malt to start with. I suggest one of the Highlands or Speyside malts like Macallan, Glenffidich, Glenlivet as a start.

Gov
05-12-2008, 10:39
I am still in the 'thinking stage' on bourbon whisky. I have not acquired the taste for it but I know I will be starting on it some time soon.

My first experience with bourbon was Makers Mark and was when I was very new to whisk(e)y drinking. I could not get used to it, so I gave it away! I then put bourbon aside for awhile and worked on my taste for scotch and irish whiskies. Later then, I tried WT 101, WT rare breed and thought they were pretty good. So I bought WT 101 and have been working on that bottle for awhile. It has slowly been growing on me.
I don't think I will ever like bourbon as much as scotch, but its a nice change of pace. WT 101 is an excellent value, and very complex!

dcb
05-14-2008, 11:28
Speyburn, blech... grab a Highland Park 12 for a nice, well-rounded intro to single malts. ..if you ever do buy another bottle.

JamesW
05-19-2008, 15:35
If you like bourbon then you'll probably really enjoy Aberlour A'bunadh. It is a cask strength oloroso sherry matured scotch and has the kind of mellow sweetness a bourbon drinker can appreciate. I've had similar experiences to you in certain Glenfiddich bottlings (12 yr old) and other cheap (er) offerings. If you can handle peat and smoke then dive into the Islay whiskeys like Laphroaig 10, Ardberg 10, Lagavulin 16, or Talisker 18 (non-Islay).

Don't let one bad bottle ruin the experience of scotch. I love the stuff and I am primarily a bourbon man myself!

OldJack
05-19-2008, 16:46
Oh, I'm too stubborn to let one bad experience keep me away forever. But in my tax bracket, I can't afford too many undrinkable bottles. Like I said above, I just need to spend an evening in an upscale watering hole and try a few out before I plunk down cash on a bottle. But as the annual Texas blast furnace is beginning to fire up, I imagine it will be a few months. When the mercury gets over 95, I tend to switch back to pale ale and lager instead of distilled spirits.

JamesW
05-19-2008, 17:39
I hear you on that one. I just had a few cool Corona's to wet my thirst :cool:

Stu
05-20-2008, 16:26
I was a blended scotch drinker for many years. One night in a party, the host opened a bottle of single malt Laphroaig. We all have a round to drink and everybody unanimously agreed that this bottle must be bad! It tasted like turpentine or iodine or medicine, what a blecch. We promptly put the bottle aside and open another one.

The host gave me the Laphroaig (fortunately) to take home. The next few days, I was having a dram from it. It still tasted like turpentine on Monday for the next 3 days but I keep on drinking it. On Friday night, I poured the same bottle. I tasted it. I look at the glass and examine the bottle because this time it tasted different. It was good! The strong turpentine taste is still there but its not offensive anymore. I felt a strong bodied whisky with a full body taste. There was this lingering aftertaste that I dont know at that time but it turned out to be peat. I like this bottle !!!

That was my 'acquired taste' period.

So dont give up. I am still in the 'thinking stage' on bourbon whisky. I have not acquired the taste for it but I know I will be starting on it some time soon. Laphroaig may not be a single malt to start with. I suggest one of the Highlands or Speyside malts like Macallan, Glenffidich, Glenlivet as a start.

Leo, if you want to get rid of the bottle of "turpentine", I'd like to buy it. It sounds like the old Laphroaig from the 70s, which I dearly love.

Stu

LeoDLion
05-22-2008, 08:45
Sorry Stu, that first Lap bottle is long gone. And many more came and now gone too. Sigh.