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  1. #11
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    Welcome to the forums!

    I don't have precisely what you're looking for, but I hope my story of how I came to enjoy Scotch whisky helps you. Up until a couple of years ago, I didn't really enjoy whisk(e)y of any variety neat all that much. I always drank it on the rocks. Looking back, I think drinking it neat brought back too many bad memories of college-era downing of shots. 99% of my experience (up until 2012 or so) with brown liquors came from bourbon. A girlfriend with Scottish family had brought back an Aberlour 12 year for me from the motherland in college, but I hadn't cared too much for it. Ten yeas later, I'm at the liquor store and I saw Johnnie Walker Black on sale for $24 or so. I figured I'd try it. I did, and even on the rocks there was a lot going on that I liked. So I proceeded to try Green and Gold, enjoyed them both. Found Cardhu on sale, tried it and liked it. Then, one magical day, a friend bought a bottle of Lagavulin 16 and poured me a glass. There was something very different about this, and I did not like it at first. Never did figure out what it was, because by the time I got around to buying my own bottle, I absolutely loved it. For the purposes of this conversation, let us assume it was peat.

    Over time, I kept trying various single malts and blends, and I got my bearings in the scotch world. I tried a wide variety of things, and kept coming back to Islay malts. Please bear in mind that I was still putting my whisky on the rocks. One thing that peated Islay malts have over others is that even when they are cold and diluted by way too much ice is FLAVOR. Even under the suppression that ice can cause, I started to identify an earthy, smoky, briny, medicinal flavor accompanied by an oily, lip smacking texture. Over time, I learned this was peat. As I assume many do, I eventually curbed and then totally cut out ice in my scotch (though I still use plenty of water when I think it needs it), but the earthy, smoky, oily, and briny allure of Islay malts remained my absolute favorite. This could be all or at least in part because peat was the first characteristic of scotch that I truly came to recognize and understand, and the feeling of success we all get when we figure something out might have created a tendency to think fondly of the stuff. I also don't always enjoy overly sweet malts (give me a meaty Mortlach over Macallan any day), and Islay malts have a lot going for them besides sweetness. I should also point out that I love food and drink that provokes a visceral reaction. Whether it's the heat from a spicy dish, smoke from BBQ, or the tongue-curdling bitterness of hops, I love it all. Peat seems to scratch that same itch for me.

    Or it's all in my head.
    Eric

  2. #12
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    Quote Originally Posted by garbanzobean View Post
    Welcome to the forums!

    I don't have precisely what you're looking for, but I hope my story of how I came to enjoy Scotch whisky helps you. Up until a couple of years ago, I didn't really enjoy whisk(e)y of any variety neat all that much. I always drank it on the rocks. Looking back, I think drinking it neat brought back too many bad memories of college-era downing of shots. 99% of my experience (up until 2012 or so) with brown liquors came from bourbon. A girlfriend with Scottish family had brought back an Aberlour 12 year for me from the motherland in college, but I hadn't cared too much for it. Ten yeas later, I'm at the liquor store and I saw Johnnie Walker Black on sale for $24 or so. I figured I'd try it. I did, and even on the rocks there was a lot going on that I liked. So I proceeded to try Green and Gold, enjoyed them both. Found Cardhu on sale, tried it and liked it. Then, one magical day, a friend bought a bottle of Lagavulin 16 and poured me a glass. There was something very different about this, and I did not like it at first. Never did figure out what it was, because by the time I got around to buying my own bottle, I absolutely loved it. For the purposes of this conversation, let us assume it was peat.

    Over time, I kept trying various single malts and blends, and I got my bearings in the scotch world. I tried a wide variety of things, and kept coming back to Islay malts. Please bear in mind that I was still putting my whisky on the rocks. One thing that peated Islay malts have over others is that even when they are cold and diluted by way too much ice is FLAVOR. Even under the suppression that ice can cause, I started to identify an earthy, smoky, briny, medicinal flavor accompanied by an oily, lip smacking texture. Over time, I learned this was peat. As I assume many do, I eventually curbed and then totally cut out ice in my scotch (though I still use plenty of water when I think it needs it), but the earthy, smoky, oily, and briny allure of Islay malts remained my absolute favorite. This could be all or at least in part because peat was the first characteristic of scotch that I truly came to recognize and understand, and the feeling of success we all get when we figure something out might have created a tendency to think fondly of the stuff. I also don't always enjoy overly sweet malts (give me a meaty Mortlach over Macallan any day), and Islay malts have a lot going for them besides sweetness. I should also point out that I love food and drink that provokes a visceral reaction. Whether it's the heat from a spicy dish, smoke from BBQ, or the tongue-curdling bitterness of hops, I love it all. Peat seems to scratch that same itch for me.

    Or it's all in my head.
    Now that's a response to the OP well worth the price of admission. Welcome veedublin and well done GB!

  3. #13
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dcbt View Post
    I sometimes wonder what it is that I despise so much about scotch, the peat or the barley. I still don't know. But I do know scotch makes me vomit in my mouth a little bit.
    There are plenty of unpeated scotches out there. Should be able to narrow it down pretty easily if you have the inclination.
    Andrew

  4. #14
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    Quote Originally Posted by amg View Post
    There are plenty of unpeated scotches out there. Should be able to narrow it down pretty easily if you have the inclination.
    Boots got me started on a google wild goose chase.. Above he mentioned Glenmo Eleanta, so I started there. Looks like it's a rare one that is impossible to find so that's not really an option.

    So then I googled for "scotch for bourbon lovers" and low and behold, the first hit is a Cowdery blog from a few years ago. He was touting Glenrothes 1995 Vintage, saying it's like Weller 12. That's starting to sound good to me, but it also looks like it's a $100 bottle. And it may or may not be hard to find as well. In the comments of that post someone mentioned Glenmo original, and Chuck agreed. So that seemed like a nice place for me to experiment, until...

    I went over to the website of a local whiskey bar (to see if they had it for a taste), and they listed Glenmo original in a section of whiskies that are lighter and not peaty at all. Again, sounds good, until I see they also listed Glenlivet 12 in that section, which is the scotch that makes me vomit in my mouth.

    I've had that one bottle of Glenlivet 12 for four years because I can't tolerate it; I have two relatives who both live in NYNJ that drink it when they visit. I hope they finish it soon so I can replace it. But with what?...

    I want the scotch that most resembles bourbon... Or, maybe I should say, I want to buy a bourbon-like scotch that I will try and if I hate it I won't drink it but at least I will have a scotch on hand for those who want scotch.

  5. #15
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dcbt View Post
    Boots got me started on a google wild goose chase.. Above he mentioned Glenmo Eleanta, so I started there. Looks like it's a rare one that is impossible to find so that's not really an option.

    So then I googled for "scotch for bourbon lovers" and low and behold, the first hit is a Cowdery blog from a few years ago. He was touting Glenrothes 1995 Vintage, saying it's like Weller 12. That's starting to sound good to me, but it also looks like it's a $100 bottle. And it may or may not be hard to find as well. In the comments of that post someone mentioned Glenmo original, and Chuck agreed. So that seemed like a nice place for me to experiment, until...

    I went over to the website of a local whiskey bar (to see if they had it for a taste), and they listed Glenmo original in a section of whiskies that are lighter and not peaty at all. Again, sounds good, until I see they also listed Glenlivet 12 in that section, which is the scotch that makes me vomit in my mouth.

    I've had that one bottle of Glenlivet 12 for four years because I can't tolerate it; I have two relatives who both live in NYNJ that drink it when they visit. I hope they finish it soon so I can replace it. But with what?...

    I want the scotch that most resembles bourbon... Or, maybe I should say, I want to buy a bourbon-like scotch that I will try and if I hate it I won't drink it but at least I will have a scotch on hand for those who want scotch.
    If you're unsure of the entirety of scotch malts, I would highly suggest you try before you buy. Depending on what you hate about scotch whisky, you are going to have some difficulty finding one that hits the same flavor buttons as bourbon. Most of your sweeter scotch whiskies are going to be from the highlands and lowlands, but a large number of them will be aged at least partially in ex-sherry barrels, which lends sweetness, but also adds flavors you may not like. Almost zero scotch whiskies are aged exclusively (or at all) in brand new barrels, so the barrel engagement you're used to just isn't going to be there. I'd second Glenmorangie Original (very different from Glenlivet, which tends to be characterized by sour green fruit flavors), or Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or if you can find it on sale. You could also look into some Single Grain offerings, or Compass Box Delilah (semi-rare, but still readily available where I live).
    Eric

  6. #16
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    I cannot do Talisker because of the band-aid, iodine, medicinal stuff. However I love me some Lagavulin 16! Go figure.

  7. #17
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyd View Post
    I cannot do Talisker because of the band-aid, iodine, medicinal stuff. However I love me some Lagavulin 16! Go figure.
    Talisker 18 is one of my favorite malts under $100. Not sure I love it at $150, though.
    Eric

  8. #18
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    I had the opposite experience of many. I couldn't stand the taste of single malts until I tried Ardbeg 10. It was love at first taste for me. Since then, I've gradually grown to appreciate non-peated malts. Laphroaig 10 is my favorite, but it's usually a "love it or hate it" kind of dram.

  9. #19
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    My wife has always loved scotch, particularly Lagavulin 16, but only recently (last five years) developed a taste for bourbons. I can't handle heavily peated scotches and don't particularly care for really old bourbons, but any bourbon under, say, 12, and especially if it's high rye, at or above 90 proof is just fine. For some reason, I added Irish whiskies and some lowland scotches to my shelves. This is a relatively recent addition. Ten years ago, it was bourbon, rye, wheat whiskey or nothing. (Well, wine, gin, beer were ok, too.)

    Why the changes? Is a puzzlement.

  10. #20
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    Re: Smoky, peaty whisky. Grow to love it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dcbt View Post
    Boots got me started on a google wild goose chase.. Above he mentioned Glenmo Eleanta, so I started there. Looks like it's a rare one that is impossible to find so that's not really an option.
    It was around for maybe a month before Jim Murray named it "Whiskey of the Year" and then it up and vanished like fart in the wind. I paid $94 on the shelf for mine. Still have half a bottle. I love the stuff, crave it in fact.

    After awhile, bourbon just kinda tastes like candy corn with carmel and vanilla to me. It's hard to find anything with any real depth that's relatively cheap. And rye is no help either because it's even more sweet often with wonky phenolics and weird watermelon stuff that sort of irritates me.

    So that leaves some kick ass malt. Yea, barley. Beer, baby!

    Glemo is a good start as I think of them as a crowd-pleasing company.

    Could also try some Highland Park 12 which is pretty cheap and approachable.

    Huge fan of Macallan Cask if you can find some.

    Again, more and more distilleries coming on line all over. The next malt on my radar is Westland out of Seattle.

    Of course Balcones is 100% corn and a very welcomed departure from the bourbon world. No accident they've won multiple awards on their products....cause they make kick ass whiskey and don't seem to give two shits how old it is or any other pretentious nonsense.

    Send me a PM, I swap samples all the time.

 

 

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