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Thread: Favorite Scotch

  1. #11
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    Gary,

    Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that the US is geared towards products that have been sweetened way above average?

    Just a theory, but I remember the first time I visited USA, I just had to buy a can of root beer, mainly because one of my teenage idols, Paul Stanley of Kiss, always plugged it as his fave lemonade.

    I wish I hadnīt bothered. It was so sickeningly sweet that I was unable to finish it.

    Adding to that, Iīve never had any problems with Scotch. The first one I had, if I remember right, was J. Walker red, and I took to it instantly. I canīt remember what I expected it to taste, though.
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

  2. #12
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    Hedmans, I must say that the European theory of an American predilection for unduly sweet things is not, in my opinion, correct, or if there is such a phenomenon it is not unique to America.

    It is easy to point to Coca-Cola and its progeny and other such common things to suggest such a palate. For every drink like that, there is an opposite one that is as popular or almost. Dry ginger ale, which in its original form originated in Canada, and which for a long time was almost as popular as Coke, is an example. Club soda even more so, or coffee (which most Americans don't sweeten unduly in my experience). Lemonade, originally, the first great soft drink of America, was semi-sweet, and so on.

    In alcoholic drinks, dry (alcoholic) cider is hardly sweet; traditional European beer was and is far maltier than most American beer; the Europeans hung on to sweet sherry and Madeira long after most Americans abandoned them, etc.

    Root beer is just one version of an old country drink (sarsparilla) and in its commercial form is certainly full of sugar but I wouldn't say that today it is all that popular, it was always a minority taste.

    Is there not in Sweden or elsewhere in Scandinavia a drink called gluhwein which, from the one time I tasted it in London in a pub in winter, is as sweet or more so than root beer? What about Advocat from Denmark (I think it is)? As you know many of the local hard liquors in Europe are sweetened to be taken after dinner, commercial brandy is quite sweet, etc.

    The confectionary of Europe is as sweet as that of America, or more so. In England alone they have countless rich deserts such as puddings of all kinds, pies, toffee (ahem), butterscotch, milk chocolate. The Austrians and Germans patented sugary desserts (all those tortes). In savoury foods, the use of sugar in European cookery is widespread from mint sauce with lamb, pork with prunes (that is French by the way, and known in parts of Scandinavia), Polish bigos with its sweetish sauerkraut, Italian tomato sauce with natural sweetness, Flemish beef carbonade (beef, sugar and beer), and so on. The French chocolate croissant for the morning fare is as sweet as toast and jam.

    Bourbon is not really sweet by comparison to good whisky. Good whisky is malty and rich (think of Macallan or any good blend).

    I think it is the smoky tang of scotch (some scotch) that accounts for this dislike: it is unexpected and people can't "place" (account for) it. Also, a lot of the day to day Scotch blends are just not that good: no surprise someone would disdain them in relation to an all-straight whiskey such as, say, VOB. Especially when VOB is half the price...

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 08-12-2006 at 14:10.

  3. #13
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    Best Scotch I have ever tasted?
    - Brora 30 year old.

    Best AFFORDABLE drinking scotch(s)?
    - Macallan Fine Oak 15year
    - Balvenie Single Barrel 15yr
    - Bowmore 17yr
    - Lagavulin 16yr

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman
    Hedmans, I must say that the European theory of an American predilection for unduly sweet things is not, in my opinion, correct, or if there is such a phenomenon it is not unique to America.
    I don't think it's a European theory.

  5. #15
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    Point taken, Gary. It was just speculation in response to the, at least for me, inexplicably hostile reactions to Scotch from grown-ups.

    I had severe problems with many things when I was a kid, for instance, coffee, grape fruit, cooked fish etc. Gradually, my revulsion towards these and other things disappeared when I grew older.

    I can certainly verify that the Austrians have a penchant for sweet cakes (and delicious they are, too) but at least compared to Scandinavia, I think that over-sweetened products tend to be more common in the USA.
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

  6. #16
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    I take all the other points in turn. No question some people within the U.S. think the diet is too heavy in refined sugars, but I have often heard the point made by Europeans (once by a - portly - genever salesman to my face in Belgium). Some of this focus derives from observations on the sizes of portions in fast food outlets, something ("supersizing") that is fairly new (last 20 years or so and is starting to self-correct).

    The traditional foods of most countries incorporate, as I tried to show, many sweet elements. Recently in the NYT a review of Czech beers called some of the famous lagers "sugary". Beer is a staple there almost like Coke is in the U.S... Northern countries (which part of the U.S. is) show more of this tendency due to the need for calories and resistance to cold. This came from a time when heating was less available or efficient than today, and cultural preferences hang on. Southern countries with a hotter climate generally offer a lighter, drier style of food and drink (although note how coffee and tea are fairly sweet in most warm countries in the world, at least where sugar is affordable).

    I don't think again (and this is just my opinion) that scotch whisky is really drier than bourbon, not good scotch, but rather it tastes different and surely qualifies, I agree, as an adult taste, one that is not easily acquired in one's youth.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 08-13-2006 at 06:59.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Powertrip
    Best Scotch I have ever tasted?
    - Brora 30 year old.

    Best AFFORDABLE drinking scotch(s)?
    - Macallan Fine Oak 15year
    - Balvenie Single Barrel 15yr
    - Bowmore 17yr
    - Lagavulin 16yr
    You're the first person who has had anything good to say about the Fine Oak Macallan.

    I personally can't stand it.

    The 18 year old Macallan (sherry cask) is one of my favorites, though. Some others:

    - Balvenie 21 Portwood
    - Ardbeg (any)
    - Rosebank (any)
    - Springbank 25, 30
    "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."

    - H.L. Mencken

  8. #18
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    Thumbs up

    I do not have wide experience with fine scotch, but the best I ever tasted was The Balvenie 15-year old single barrel. It may have been the finest tasting spirit I have ever tasted.

    Tim
    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

  9. #19
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    I guess my favourite distillery is Ardbeg - anything they bottle that I've tried is pretty good although the prices for the high-end products are climbing out of sight. I like lagavulin, Coal Ila and Bowmore quite alot as well.

    Recently got a bottle of 1990 Imperial bottled in 2002 by Connisouers Choice for $60 cdn and I think I just bargooned!!!

    I don't think I can identify a favourite scotch as I'm always trying new ones. There are something like 90+ distilleries currently working, each with multiple expressions in the marketplace. Add in the products from mothballed and dismantled distilleries, there's a TON of stuff to try out there. For example, currently impressed by Laphroag Quarter Cask.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by thehighking
    You're the first person who has had anything good to say about the Fine Oak Macallan.

    I personally can't stand it.
    Its funny you know. I have tried all the other Fine Oak's (cept the 30 year) and I don't care for them half as much as the 15yr. I find the balance in the 15yr is just magical, and its been consistent in various bottles of it.

 

 

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