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  1. #1
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    MJ's 4 & 5 Star Scotch Distilleries

    In the 1991 edition of Michael Jackson's Guide to Single Malt Scotch, the author gives a rating to all of the distilleries producing SMS. As a way to explore the world of single malts, I have made it my goal to taste the product of each one of the 4 & 5 star distilleries. In alphabetical order they are:

    5 Star: Auchentoshan, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Glenlivet, Highland Park, Lagavulin, Springbank.

    4 Star: Abelour, Ardbeg, Balvenie, Bladnoch, Clynelish, Cragganmore, Dallas Dhu, Dalmore, Edradour, Glens Farcas, Gerioch, Grant, -kinchie, -morangie, Scotia, and -turret, Laphroaig, Linkwood, Littlemill, Royal Lochlogar, Longmorn, Macallan, Mortlach, Oban, Port Ellen, Rosebank, Singleton, Talisker.

    The distilleries in bold are the ones I've tried already. Except for 2 or 3, I've liked them all.

    Later editions did not rate distilleries only whiskies. Are there any on that list that are either impossible to find or not worth seeking out anymore? Are there any distilleries that should be on one of those lists now?
    bibamus, moriendum est
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  2. #2
    Taster
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    Apr 2011
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    Re: MJ's 4 & 5 Star Scotch Distilleries

    '91 is obviously quite old at this point. As a result, there are a handful on this list that are no longer producing.

    Port Ellen is absolutely worth trying but is getting rarer and expensive since the distillery was closed in '82 and only supplies maltings. I would characterize PE as "expensive" more than "rare" at this point - don't be surprised at asking prices at or above $300/bottle these days. Brora is similar in that regard though less common than PE.

    Littlemill is gone (destroyed). I just picked up a bottle the other day but can't comment on it yet.

    Dallas Dhu is also closed. Haven't had anything from them.

    Rosebank is closed and has been partially demolished.

    Singleton is an interesting one.
    ca. 91 it would have been the name for the production of Auchroisk. Auchroisk is now available under its own name.
    Now it's split into three malts depending on your locale:
    Singleton of Dufftown in Europe
    Singleton of Glendullan in the US
    Singleton of Glen Ord in Asia.
    So - what you should look for is actually an Auchroisk bottling. I don't think I've seen much beyond the pricey 20y though lately.

    Another ranked-by-order list that may be worth checking out is Serge's list - http://www.whiskyfun.com/indexation.html - again, it's a little top-heavy with closed distilleries.

    Off that list I'm not particularly taken with Edradour, Dalmore or Aberlour, but there are people who will fight to the death for those.


    That being said that's a fairly decent list; an activity I think would be productive is perhaps profiling what you like and chasing the flavor profile more than the distillery. If you don't like peat, for instance, I'll never recommend Port Charlotte PC6. If you don't like lighter, sweet & floral malts, Balblair 1997 probably isn't the way to go.

  3. #3
    Apprentice
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    Re: MJ's 4 & 5 Star Scotch Distilleries

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    In the 1991 edition of Michael Jackson's Guide to Single Malt Scotch, the author gives a rating to all of the distilleries producing SMS. As a way to explore the world of single malts, I have made it my goal to taste the product of each one of the 4 & 5 star distilleries. In alphabetical order they are:

    5 Star: Auchentoshan, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Glenlivet, Highland Park, Lagavulin, Springbank.

    4 Star: Abelour, Ardbeg, Balvenie, Bladnoch, Clynelish, Cragganmore, Dallas Dhu, Dalmore, Edradour, Glens Farcas, Gerioch, Grant, -kinchie, -morangie, Scotia, and -turret, Laphroaig, Linkwood, Littlemill, Royal Lochlogar, Longmorn, Macallan, Mortlach, Oban, Port Ellen, Rosebank, Singleton, Talisker.

    The distilleries in bold are the ones I've tried already. Except for 2 or 3, I've liked them all.

    Later editions did not rate distilleries only whiskies. Are there any on that list that are either impossible to find or not worth seeking out anymore? Are there any distilleries that should be on one of those lists now?
    Check out whiskyfun.com. There's tons of great reviews and other fun-fun stuff but if you look at each distillery page, Serge sort of rates them in a similar way. It mainly is to separate which distilleries mainly produce for blends and which others are more interested in producing single malts alongside their blending supplies.

    enjoy,
    aaron

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
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    Feb 2011
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    701

    Re: MJ's 4 & 5 Star Scotch Distilleries

    Quote Originally Posted by aaronbarker View Post
    Check out whiskyfun.com. There's tons of great reviews and other fun-fun stuff but if you look at each distillery page, Serge sort of rates them in a similar way. It mainly is to separate which distilleries mainly produce for blends and which others are more interested in producing single malts alongside their blending supplies.

    enjoy,
    aaron
    www.maltmadness.com is another great resource. Along with SMS, I would not turn my head away from some blends. Compass Box has some highly regarded Scotch blends made from a combination of many of the distilleries on your list. Peat Monster, Spice Tree and Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary are all highly rated and sometimes difficult to find, particularly the Flaming Heart which only produced approx 4186 bottles less than 2000 of those released to North America.

    And Ballentine's 17 yo was rated by Murray in the 2011 bible as World Whisky of the Year.
    "There's nothing better than a fine dinner, a good bottle of whiskey and a bad girl"

 

 

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