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  1. #1

    Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    Hey folks, new to the site and fairly new to bourbon... well sorta. I'm a young'n, at 22, who had some pretty bad experiences involving some Beam back in high school/first year of college. I'll try not elaborating.

    Nobody in my immediate family is a big drinker, myself included, though I think generally being age 22 gives me a leg up on my competition. However when I turned 21, my parents (whom I can't recall drinking more than a handful of times a year) started keeping liquor on hand, and whenever they were entertaining my brother, his wife, and myself, we'd have a drink or two, trying new stuff here and there, etc. My brother has always been a scotch guy, and as such I had tried a handful of them (cheaper stuff, generally.. he's a 'scotch guy' who doesn't drink much and is just starting a teaching career, after all) and I enjoyed them somewhat, but it wasn't really my cup of tea... then earlier this year, my father picked up a bottle of Maker's, I tried some on the rocks and then some neat, and quite predictably (I signed up here, didn't I?) bourbon has been almost the only alcohol I've drank since.

    I've been trying just about as much different stuff as I can, and perhaps oddly, I seem to thoroughly enjoy it all, though probably unsurprisingly the PVW Family Reserve 15 has probably been my favorite of the bunch so far (local shop has a bunch of 'Lot B' that I'm extremely tempted to pick up, as I can't seem to go five feet without hearing it praised)

    I of course can't really notice any serious trends in what I like/dislike, as I still even have trouble describing the different flavors I'm experiencing and whatnot. A few months ago I would've told you I vastly preferred wheaters, but a single bottle of OGD BIB changed my tune... mildly enjoyable but felt a bit 'harsh' at first, but by the time I had revisited the bottle a few times, I started to really like the sort of spicy/hotness in it. So who knows. Other than the PVW, Weller Antique 107 really stands out to me as one of the favorites I've tried so far (I've stuck mostly to the <$25-30 area, and so far the Weller is probably my favorite of the bunch... i didn't expect to enjoy a $16 bottle THAT much) but the OGD is quickly growing on me as well, and the 350ml of Eagle Rare I just cracked a few days ago is nice and enjoyable, though it seems to lack... something (describing these things is hard!)

    So, there's the unnecessarily long "Hey folks." I'd ask for bourbon recommendations, but just from browsing the boards and browsing the local Binny's, I've got my hands full, though feel free to spout them if you'd like. However, my question relates to scotch, and as such I'm not sure if i should ask it here or in the foreign whisky/scotch subforum, but I figure in here I'm probably more apt to find people who are primarily bourbon fans that may have experience with what I'm talking about... so here goes: is there any sort of scotch that is considered, for lack of a better term, a good 'introductory' scotch for somebody that's a 'bourbon drinker'? (I use the term loosely of course, but so far I've liked every single bourbon I've tasted, and never gotten much past 'okay' in a scotch)

    I've only had a handful of scotches, Dewars coming off to me as... fairly 'bad' actually, and Chivas Regal being the most enjoyable, but in all of them there's a certain quality to the flavor (and in Dewar's especially, the aftert-- err, finish?) that as a whole I just don't really like much. Could be that I'm not used to it, of course, but who knows.

    If it may help, I don't have much experience with other whisky, but I seem to enjoy a lot of different non-scotch whisky (even plain ol Jack Daniels on the rocks is fairly enjoyable to me), Crown Royal is pretty good, and both the Irish Whisky offerings (Bushmill's, Jameson) I've tried I liked, which leads me to believe it *may* be the peaty flavor of scotch that I dislike/am not used to... if so, are there any scotches that may have minimal peat presence, or is it just pretty much a universal quality of scotch? And should I bother trying a bottle of a slightly nicer/more expensive (by my standards, of course) scotch, or should I just do the obvious, pick up a bottle of 'Lot B,' and start being a snob to all the silly scotch drinkers?

    Anyway, that's about it, a premature thanks to everybody on the board: just got signed up, but I've been lurking here for a bit picking up recommendations and whatnot, so it's already been very helpful

  2. #2
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    Crossover pours

    I have a feeling it's the peat that's putting you off. If that's the case, then I'd give Aberlour, Glenrothes, Glenlivet, or Balvenie a try, as they have little or no peat.

    In the other direction, I'm trying to think of a good introductory bourbon for Scotch drinkers. Blanton's would come to mind, also Lot B or PVW 15.

    Then again, it was a bottle of Stagg that got me seriously into bourbon after drinking mostly Scotch, but I was already accustomed to cask-strength single malts including the Islay peat monsters.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  3. #3
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    I share a very similar "origins" story with you, as well as your apparent dislike for peat, so these are my somewhat limited findings:

    Definitely Glenlivets are great, I've had the 12, 15 and 18 year variations and all were enjoyable. 12 is good, 15 is substantially better, and 18 is substantially better than 15, so basically the more you spend on it the better. Avoid Glenfiddich; a friend bought some 18-year (cost a-plenty) and we didn't enjoy it because of the excess peat flavor. Same applies to all of them. All the Johnny Walkers I've tried had the same problem, though I haven't, of course, tried the blue label.
    I've also enjoyed every Balvene product that I've tried.

    Oh and if you really want to get into Irish Whiskey, the base Jameson and Bushmills are generally considered to be extremely dull. As a good starter, try a bottle of 18-year Jameson to compare basic Jameson to. Black Bush is good for comparing to the basic Bushmills. A good Irish pub will have both, so rather than blowing money on a bottle just get a straight drink of each.

    Best of luck!

  4. #4
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    For starters welcome! I'm not a huge scotch fan but have tryed the Blue Label and if it were not $230 for a 750ml I might get one I keep a bottle of Black and the green around. If you get a chance on the Irish side try the Redbreast 12 (really enjoyable). From scotch to Bourbon I think you could even try an Elijah Craig SB 18 yr. seems to have the char characteristics of a scotch. I would agree on the Blanton'a as well. If you can get Stagg give it a try, the complex taste is unforgetable! Not to mention everyone's waiting on the 2007 release.
    "So long as the presence of death lurks with anyone who goes through the simple act of swallowing, I will make mine whiskey"

  5. #5
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    Irish whiskeys might be viewed as a bridge to enjoying scotch for those who are put off by peat. Jameson 12, Bushmills 10 or Black Bush are nice drams. as for scotch, I don't believe anyone mentioned Glenmorangie 10. I find it a good introductory scotch for a bourbon drinker. Dalmore 12 is one of my favorite very low peat scotches.

    Enjoy your exploration and welcome to the forum.

  6. #6
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    I'd agree with Brad. I think that all of Glenmorangie's products have been top notch. Do a little experimenting with the different wood finishes they offer. A little pricey but a nice change of pace.

    I do enjoy drinking scotch quite often. Ardbeg is one of my all time favorites although it is highly peated and I doubt you would care for it.

    You say that you like the irish whiskeys. Give Powers Gold a try. It costs considerably less than Bushmills or Jamesons and is at least as good in my opinion.

    The Johnnie Walker Red or Black are pretty good too. Lots of folks around here seem to dismiss the red as just dull or boring, but the sales figures would seem to disagree. I quite like it.

    Last I'd like to recommend Pinch. I've never seen it discussed here but I'm sure that it probably has. It's one of those sleeper deals. A great pour with lots of spicey taste. It actually tastes like drinking a bourbon. Honestly it reminds me of a slightly less spicey version of Bakers. It runs about 25 bucks a bottle but I'd give it a try.

    Chris

  7. #7
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    I agree with the suggestions posted above about scotch. Unfortunately, scotch is generally very expensive, especially compared to bourbons/ryes. One approach is to find a well stocked whisky bar and do some sampling there. Again, a shot of scotch is more expensive than bourbon. But when you think about the cost of trying four shots vs. buying four bottles, there is some logic to this approach. You say you shop at Binny's, so I assume you're in the Chicago area. I'm not familiar with the bars there, but Chicago must have at least a few good whisky bars.

    Most of the scotches you listed were blends. For a blended scotch, you might try Ballantines or Ballantines 12 year old. There might be a faint hint of smoke, but it is well balanced in this fine blend.

    For single malts, if you want absolutely no smoke or peat try a Glengoyne. Also try the lowland scotches, Auchentoschan (the 10 year old, not the Select Reserve!) or Glenkinchie. These are not quite as common as some others in the U.S., but Binny's should carry them. Now my real recommendation falls in line with the others above. I always recommend that someone new to scotch start with the Dalmore 12 year old for the style and cost, but I also strongly suggest Balvenie, Aberlour, or Glenlivet. Another one to try is the Dalwhinnie 15 year old.

    If you like some of these, let us know and we might direct you towards something a little more adventuresome. (Iíve had a few scotch tastings with friends and itís surprising that folks who were absolutely positive theyíd hate the peaty ones loved them. Of course, others didnít like peat at all. You just have to try to find out.)

    Bob

  8. #8
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    Maybe some Macallan in there for good measure. Especially the 18.

  9. #9
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    It's not that common, but Edradour is one of my favorite scotches, and it's very mild...no real smoke or peat, almost bourbon like. Other than that, look for a scotch with a sherry finish, like Glenmorangie or Aberlour. None of them are high-cost scotches, but since they are all single malts, you'll probably end up paying $40-$50 each. (Another reason I find myself drinking bourbon more & more!)

  10. #10
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    Re: Introduction, rambling... and scotch?

    My love for hard liquor is found in tequila, scotch and bourbon. I wouldn't give up on scotch whisky yet. If you think that it is the peat that pushes you away, I would recommend you try the Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve. It is very inexpensive ($30-$35), very mellow and has very little peat.

    If you want a solid offering with some peat I would recommend either the Scapa 14, Highland Park 12 or the Clynelish 14. Each of these are great scotches, have some traditional scotch peatiness and are reasonably priced.

    For a sherried scotch, I would recommend the Aberlour a'Bunadh. This one is fabulous!!! I think Macallan's sherried scotches are over-rated and over-priced. The 18 year is good but for $130 you can do much much better. You are paying for the name, not the contents.

    If none of these are to your liking than scotch may not be for you. Don't base you disliking of scotch off of Dewars or Chivas Regal (their 18 year is pretty good). Try the single malts listed above and draw your own conclusions...

    Oh, one last thing. You stated that you liked Irish whisky. Definitely try Redbreast. I am not a huge Irish whisky fan but this one is my favorite by a long shot.

 

 

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