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flahute

Irish whiskey vs. Scotch

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lcpfratn
Couldn't agree more! I fell in love with it about 1-1/2 yrs ago when I bought a 2015 release. I now have on hand the 2011, 15, 16 and 17 releases, and will soon have the 2012, 14 and 18. Delicious whisky IMO. 
 
Another one recommended to me by SB member Stu was Old Pulteney 21, which unfortunately has been discontinued. If you happen to find one sitting on the shelf somewhere for around $100, it would be a buy in my book. (If you find one and don't like it, let me know. I'll take care of you  )

Not sure that OP21 has been available for $100 in quite some time, but if you can find it for “reasonable” money, it is very good. The Old Pulteney 17yr, which has also been discontinued, is another good one that you might still be able to find...and actually closer to $100.
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HoustonNit

Wow great thread and some great posts particularly the one from EaethQuake. I’ve made the trip to Dublin and it brought an appreciation of Irish Pot Still that’s a whole other animal than Jameson and most of the other crud most are familiar with.

I’m really not a fan of blended Scotches and really don’t get the appeal of peated Scotch. I have found a recent newfound appreciation of the non peated stuff that’s at a decent proof and NCF. Hoping to find recommendations for these. With the current pricing and scarcity of a lot of bourbons along with a relatively strong dollar, prices of Scotch have become much more interesting.

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Jazz June

I have been dipping my toe in the Scotch and Irish waters a bit more lately as well. The low proof of most offerings has always been a turn off. Also never been a big peat fan, so mostly stuck to the Speysiders. Redbreast 12 cask strength is an outstanding Irish single pot still whiskey. I'm looking forward to trying the 15 and either Green Spot or Yellow Spot next. As for Scotch and independent bottlers, I'll put in a good word for the Scotch Malt Whisky  Society bottles. They are barrel picks and I believe they are all cask strength and non-chill filtered. They are color coded into flavor profiles and provide the age as well as a bottle code so you can determine the distillery if you want. I've tried 7 or 8 different ones from friends who are members and they ranged from good to great. The better ones definitely improved my opinion on how good Scotch can be. Bourbon is still firmly my favorite, but absolutely looking forward to more British exploration.

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Marekv8
6 hours ago, HoustonNit said:

I have found a recent newfound appreciation of the non peated stuff that’s at a decent proof and NCF. Hoping to find recommendations for these.

 

A few suggestions… all official bottlings. The Highland Park carries some peat, but the smoke is well integrated into a balanced beast. The Springbank 12CS is the great deceiver.

 

IMG_2865.thumb.jpg.705e1ae285e12064c95ab141e56c59d5.jpg

 

IMG_2866.thumb.jpg.611cbf300059558888bb01cfbf886a38.jpg

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jeffrey r

Perhaps related to my enjoyment of Irish, I am a big Hazelburn fan.  And frankly, I really enjoy mostly anything in the Springbank family, including the Springbank releases, and the peated Longrow.  I believe Hazelburn is now 10yo, and Longrow Peated is NAS.  But, I was fortunate to stumble upon some older Hazelburn 12yo and Longrow Peated 10yo recently.  It took me a while to really come around on scotch, but some of the ones that did it for me were the Glendronach line (especially the 15yo Revival), Bunnahabhain 12 and 18, and the aforementioned Springbank/Hazelburn/Longrow.  Still not a peat-head, but do enjoy it in certain drams, especially the discontinued Laphroaig 18.

 

Back to Irish, Redbreast 12 CS, Bushmills 16 and 21, and Powers John's Lane are all outstanding.  Certainly plenty of other good Irish whiskeys out there.  And sometimes, like the past two nights, I just want something simple, light and easy, and Irish whiskey offers plenty of options (not in a bad way, despite my description).  So, two nights ago was Tullamore Dew 12/80 proof, and last night was Tullamore Dew 10/80 proof.  Not the best pours you'll ever have, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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HoustonNit
 

A few suggestions… all official bottlings. The Highland Park carries some peat, but the smoke is well integrated into a balanced beast. The Springbank 12CS is the great deceiver.

 

IMG_2865.thumb.jpg.705e1ae285e12064c95ab141e56c59d5.jpg

 

IMG_2866.thumb.jpg.611cbf300059558888bb01cfbf886a38.jpg

 

Yum, I will keep my eyes out for these. They look great.

 

I only had a couple of minutes to look around but saw these. There was also some interesting stuff on the shelf.

 

IMG_8098.thumb.jpg.c35cf5417a53c2a6c03e57acf2873b07.jpg

 

Also saw they have the Hazelburn down the street for $90, says 12 year.

 

 

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tanstaafl2
On 9/17/2019 at 11:20 PM, EarthQuake said:

 

Tyrconnel is another nice Single Pot Still Irish, produced at Cooley. They have a number of different expressions aged (or finished? it wasn't entirely clear) in different cask types.

 

Nice post! Although I did want to note that Tyrconnell is a single malt (all malted barley that includes a port, sherry and Madeira finished version as well as the single malt) and not single pot still (mix of malted and unmalted barley). Cooley (now Beam Suntory of course) has not released a single pot still brand that I can recall. They did release a poitin that was a single pot still mashbill with a plan to create one but then they got bought and it never happened. For all I know Teeling got those barrels.

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Rick M.
10 hours ago, tanstaafl2 said:

Nice post! Although I did want to note that Tyrconnell is a single malt (all malted barley that includes a port, sherry and Madeira finished version as well as the single malt) and not single pot still (mix of malted and unmalted barley). Cooley (now Beam Suntory of course) has not released a single pot still brand that I can recall. They did release a poitin that was a single pot still mashbill with a plan to create one but then they got bought and it never happened. For all I know Teeling got those barrels.

To my knowledge, the only other distillery trying to make single pot still is the new-ish Dingle distillery.  They released a 3 year old last year, which sold out in an eye blink.  One to keep an eye on when it gets some more age.

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EarthQuake
On 9/19/2019 at 9:03 PM, tanstaafl2 said:

Nice post! Although I did want to note that Tyrconnell is a single malt (all malted barley that includes a port, sherry and Madeira finished version as well as the single malt) and not single pot still (mix of malted and unmalted barley). Cooley (now Beam Suntory of course) has not released a single pot still brand that I can recall. They did release a poitin that was a single pot still mashbill with a plan to create one but then they got bought and it never happened. For all I know Teeling got those barrels.

Ah yeah thanks for the correction, it's easy to get caught up typing Single Pot Still when it comes to Irish!

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HoustonNit
 
A few suggestions… all official bottlings. The Highland Park carries some peat, but the smoke is well integrated into a balanced beast. The Springbank 12CS is the great deceiver.
 
IMG_2865.thumb.jpg.705e1ae285e12064c95ab141e56c59d5.jpg
 
IMG_2866.thumb.jpg.611cbf300059558888bb01cfbf886a38.jpg


Mostly Springbank, Speyside? I’m going to the UK next week for work and will likely be in London for a couple of nights. Would like to stop by Cadenhead’s abd pick up one of there bottlings. For a bourbon drinker general regions to seek?

https://www.whiskytastingroom.com/product-category/catalogue/cadenheads-authentic-collection/

Really excited about seeing what they have.

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Marekv8
2 hours ago, HoustonNit said:

 


Mostly Springbank, Speyside? I’m going to the UK next week for work and will likely be in London for a couple of nights. Would like to stop by Cadenhead’s abd pick up one of there bottlings. For a bourbon drinker general regions to seek?

https://www.whiskytastingroom.com/product-category/catalogue/cadenheads-authentic-collection/

Really excited about seeing what they have.
 

 

 

Was at the London shop a couple of months back-- mostly very young single malts on offer, but interesting in respect to investigating distillery character.  They do have the Glenfarclas 105 and the new Old Pulteney 15, but you can probably pick those up anywhere. Some of the older indie single grains i.e., Strathclyde, Cameronbridge, Cambus, etc. can be very bourbonescent.

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HoustonNit
 
Was at the London shop a couple of months back-- mostly very young single malts on offer, but interesting in respect to investigating distillery character.  They do have the Glenfarclas 105 and the new Old Pulteney 15, but you can probably pick those up anywhere. Some of the older indie single grains i.e., Strathclyde, Cameronbridge, Cambus, etc. can be very bourbonescent.


The Glenfarclas 105 seems not super easy to get in the US abd runs about $15 more at the current exchange range. The STRATHCLYDE 1989 27 YEAR seems to at the end of my range but very interesting.

I just realized there closed on Sunday, may need to try to make sure I’m back in town later that week. I’m also very interested in there rums so it’s a must stop for me.

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Marekv8
51 minutes ago, HoustonNit said:

 


The Glenfarclas 105 seems not super easy to get in the US abd runs about $15 more at the current exchange range. The STRATHCLYDE 1989 27 YEAR seems to at the end of my range but very interesting.

I just realized there closed on Sunday, may need to try to make sure I’m back in town later that week. I’m also very interested in there rums so it’s a must stop for me.

 

 

I have a Cadenhead 26yo Strathclyde from 1989 with similar color/ABV if you're in need of a sample…

 

 

 

577782004_ScreenShot2019-09-24at4_08_51PM.thumb.jpg.7c01d52fa9cbd14c6614dbaf3eb82466.jpg

 

 

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HoustonNit
 
I have a Cadenhead 26yo Strathclyde from 1989 with similar color/ABV if you're in need of a sample…
 
 
 
577782004_ScreenShot2019-09-24at4_08_51PM.thumb.jpg.7c01d52fa9cbd14c6614dbaf3eb82466.jpg
 
 


Wow thanks, I’m making the hop this Sunday so not sure there’s enough time to get this and try it but thanks!

How is it? Is it £30 better than some of the 12 year single malt/single grains they are offering.

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Marekv8
2 hours ago, HoustonNit said:

 


Wow thanks, I’m making the hop this Sunday so not sure there’s enough time to get this and try it but thanks!

How is it? Is it £30 better than some of the 12 year single malt/single grains they are offering.

 

 

I’m actually flying out tomorrow morning, so yes— timing would be tough. In regards to your “better” question, that’s why I suggested the sample— it’s such a completely different animal. I would recommend passing on the younger single grains— typically not enough cask influence; but the older ones can be quite interesting. Cadenhead’s should have a series of 20cl bottles at fair prices to dig through. 

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HoustonNit
 

I’m actually flying out tomorrow morning, so yes— timing would be tough. In regards to your “better” question, that’s why I suggested the sample— it’s such a completely different animal. I would recommend passing on the younger single grains— typically not enough cask influence; but the older ones can be quite interesting. Cadenhead’s should have a series of 20cl bottles at fair prices to dig through. 

 

Thanks again for the gesture but yeah don’t worry about it on your last day before flying out. The samples at the store is an excellent suggestion! I’ve been reading up on the the single grains and find these 20+ year single cask bottlings of single grains fascinating but agree with trying before buying. I’m hoping they may have one to sample before buying. If not or if I don’t like it I’ll probably go the route of one of the younger single malts they have available.

 

I’ll report back and flathute I apologize for hijacking the thread.

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Marekv8
5 hours ago, HoustonNit said:

 

Thanks again for the gesture but yeah don’t worry about it on your last day before flying out. The samples at the store is an excellent suggestion! I’ve been reading up on the the single grains and find these 20+ year single cask bottlings of single grains fascinating but agree with trying before buying. I’m hoping they may have one to sample before buying. If not or if I don’t like it I’ll probably go the route of one of the younger single malts they have available.

 

I’ll report back and flathute I apologize for hijacking the thread.

 

Sounds good-- have a great trip.

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Widebody
13 hours ago, HoustonNit said:

 

Thanks again for the gesture but yeah don’t worry about it on your last day before flying out. The samples at the store is an excellent suggestion! I’ve been reading up on the the single grains and find these 20+ year single cask bottlings of single grains fascinating but agree with trying before buying. I’m hoping they may have one to sample before buying. If not or if I don’t like it I’ll probably go the route of one of the younger single malts they have available.

 

I’ll report back and flathute I apologize for hijacking the thread.

I visited cadenhead’s London last week and can confirm that they have a number of airplane mini size bottles in the shop that run 6-9£ per bottle.  Don’t recall any In the 20 or older range but lots of options in the 7-14 year old range.  The guys in the shop are very friendly and happy to chat about all things scotch and rum.  

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The Black Tot

I'll put it in redneckier terms than above (excellent post Earthquake).

 

Irish whiskey for me splits the difference between Scottish grain whisky (which has marshmallow notes) and Scottish single malt.

 

Irish whiskey always has banana bread in the flavor profile hiding somewhere. Maybe Tyrconnell won't, because as Bruce stated it's a single malt.

 

So for me, mix a little grain into your malted barley, you get banana bread. Go full grain or mostly grain, and you go full marshmallow.

 

NEVER go full marshmallow.

 

I kid.

 

My advice for learning Scotch quickly are as follows:

 

Find cask strength offerings that are matured in bourbon casks, usually easily identified by the light straw color. Used bourbon casks, especially older ones that were used when the Scotch that is now 15yrs+ was barrelled in, impart a gentler flavor to a Scotch, allowing you to truly taste the quality of the malt involved. 

 

Once you find a distillery that you like the core character of the malt, then start tasting it in different cask finishes and ages/proofs and see what you discover.

 

I highly recommend buying a small bottle of Oloroso sherry and Pedro Ximinez sherry and tasting them neat for what they are. Most sherried whisky is Oloroso casked, and when you taste the PX sherry, you'll know why I like PX casks.  After you do this, you'll identify how much of a malt is the malt, and how much is the sherry, and which type.

 

When I first started drinking Scotch I thought I preferred sherried ones. Then I tasted sherry on its own and realized I didn't like the taste of Oloroso. After that experience, I consider the sherry flavor in malts to be a major negative point, and now I only buy malts aged in bourbon, rum or cognac casks. I also dislike port, so port is a big no no for me.

 

If you like sherry and port, then a great point to drinking Scotch is the prevalence of offerings with this finish, similar to if you like peat.

 

I find Scottish malt to be harder work than bourbon. I like far fewer malts than I do bourbons. But the ones that I've found that I do like, I REALLY like. I've got a Linkwood that tastes like strawberry jam and cream. Some flavors like that aren't available in bourbon.

 

For my tastes, bad malt tastes cerealy and funky in a bad way, but a lot of people love those same ones. I like it when it tastes a little candylike. Kind of like the stick in a Fun Dip. If a malt does that, then age and the right cask can really result in fireworks.  Bowmore actually manages a citrus type sweet flavor which really compliments peat - get that in a bourbon cask and wow.

 

Btw I think the whole double distilled/triple distilled thing is a bit of marketing BS. Not that they don't triple distill like they say, I just don't think it's the most important factor. Much like the idea that every bourbon distillery claiming they have access to Kentucky's magic spring (and then you see the monster water treatment apparatus in the bottling hall). I think off the still proof is the most important factor relating to a whisky's complexity, the lower the better, just like bourbon (Booker's is the lowest distillation proof of the Beam line...yum yum). In Scotch much is made of the shape of the stills, in particular whether or not the lyne arm (the pipe coming off the top of the still) tilts upward or downward. Upward pointing lyne arms make the distillate fight to get up the pipe, causing the heavier components to fall back and eddy into the main still, which distillers call "reflux". This tends to yield a light and floral spirit, where a downward sloping lyne arm will have heavier bodied notes for exactly the opposite reasons.

 

My favorite distillates are Springbank (but it's too pricy in the US for me to bother with - btw Longrow is heavily peated Springbank distillate that comes off the still at the lowest proof, wink wink), Clynelish (Diageo, alas), Bowmore, Linkwood (a blending component only released in its pure form by independent bottlers), the aforementioned Coal Ila, Loch Lomond (particularly their Inchmurrin distillate), Glen Scotia, and I've had good luck with Benrinnes and some of the PX Cask Benriachs, I think it was.

 

I toured Auchentoshan last month. For me it was meh. Owned by Beam Suntory, FYI. I think it might be enjoyable if you can catch a distillery cask strength release bourbon cask. But while I was there the offering was sherry so it was a nope from me. At 40% their malt is a real yawner, and their limited edition cask strength stuff is priced like the crown jewels.

 

There ya go. There's some riffin' that I hope helps. 

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flahute
13 minutes ago, The Black Tot said:

I'll put it in redneckier terms than above (excellent post Earthquake).

 

Irish whiskey for me splits the difference between Scottish grain whisky (which has marshmallow notes) and Scottish single malt.

 

Irish whiskey always has banana bread in the flavor profile hiding somewhere. Maybe Tyrconnell won't, because as Bruce stated it's a single malt.

 

So for me, mix a little grain into your malted barley, you get banana bread. Go full grain or mostly grain, and you go full marshmallow.

 

NEVER go full marshmallow.

 

I kid.

 

My advice for learning Scotch quickly are as follows:

 

Find cask strength offerings that are matured in bourbon casks, usually easily identified by the light straw color. Used bourbon casks, especially older ones that were used when the Scotch that is now 15yrs+ was barrelled in, impart a gentler flavor to a Scotch, allowing you to truly taste the quality of the malt involved. 

 

Once you find a distillery that you like the core character of the malt, then start tasting it in different cask finishes and ages/proofs and see what you discover.

 

I highly recommend buying a small bottle of Oloroso sherry and Pedro Ximinez sherry and tasting them neat for what they are. Most sherried whisky is Oloroso casked, and when you taste the PX sherry, you'll know why I like PX casks.  After you do this, you'll identify how much of a malt is the malt, and how much is the sherry, and which type.

 

When I first started drinking Scotch I thought I preferred sherried ones. Then I tasted sherry on its own and realized I didn't like the taste of Oloroso. After that experience, I consider the sherry flavor in malts to be a major negative point, and now I only buy malts aged in bourbon, rum or cognac casks. I also dislike port, so port is a big no no for me.

 

If you like sherry and port, then a great point to drinking Scotch is the prevalence of offerings with this finish, similar to if you like peat.

 

I find Scottish malt to be harder work than bourbon. I like far fewer malts than I do bourbons. But the ones that I've found that I do like, I REALLY like. I've got a Linkwood that tastes like strawberry jam and cream. Some flavors like that aren't available in bourbon.

 

For my tastes, bad malt tastes cerealy and funky in a bad way, but a lot of people love those same ones. I like it when it tastes a little candylike. Kind of like the stick in a Fun Dip. If a malt does that, then age and the right cask can really result in fireworks.  Bowmore actually manages a citrus type sweet flavor which really compliments peat - get that in a bourbon cask and wow.

 

Btw I think the whole double distilled/triple distilled thing is a bit of marketing BS. Not that they don't triple distill like they say, I just don't think it's the most important factor. Much like the idea that every bourbon distillery claiming they have access to Kentucky's magic spring (and then you see the monster water treatment apparatus in the bottling hall). I think off the still proof is the most important factor relating to a whisky's complexity, the lower the better, just like bourbon (Booker's is the lowest distillation proof of the Beam line...yum yum). In Scotch much is made of the shape of the stills, in particular whether or not the lyne arm (the pipe coming off the top of the still) tilts upward or downward. Upward pointing lyne arms make the distillate fight to get up the pipe, causing the heavier components to fall back and eddy into the main still, which distillers call "reflux". This tends to yield a light and floral spirit, where a downward sloping lyne arm will have heavier bodied notes for exactly the opposite reasons.

 

My favorite distillates are Springbank (but it's too pricy in the US for me to bother with - btw Longrow is heavily peated Springbank distillate that comes off the still at the lowest proof, wink wink), Clynelish (Diageo, alas), Bowmore, Linkwood (a blending component only released in its pure form by independent bottlers), the aforementioned Coal Ila, Loch Lomond (particularly their Inchmurrin distillate), Glen Scotia, and I've had good luck with Benrinnes and some of the PX Cask Benriachs, I think it was.

 

I toured Auchentoshan last month. For me it was meh. Owned by Beam Suntory, FYI. I think it might be enjoyable if you can catch a distillery cask strength release bourbon cask. But while I was there the offering was sherry so it was a nope from me. At 40% their malt is a real yawner, and their limited edition cask strength stuff is priced like the crown jewels.

 

There ya go. There's some riffin' that I hope helps. 

This is fantastic. Thank you. Now to go find some strawberries and cream whiskey.

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flahute
22 hours ago, HoustonNit said:

.....and flathute I apologize for hijacking the thread.

It's all good. Some interesting whiskies are being discussed because of your questions and I'm adding them to my list of whiskies to learn more about!

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HoustonNit
It's all good. Some interesting whiskies are being discussed because of your questions and I'm adding them to my list of whiskies to learn more about!


Thanks for making this post some excellent information from Marekv8, Earthquake and The Black Tot, some this should be put into a primer for Scotch and Irish Whiskey for bourbon drinkers.

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HoustonNit
I'll put it in redneckier terms than above (excellent post Earthquake).
 
Irish whiskey for me splits the difference between Scottish grain whisky (which has marshmallow notes) and Scottish single malt.
 
Irish whiskey always has banana bread in the flavor profile hiding somewhere. Maybe Tyrconnell won't, because as Bruce stated it's a single malt.
 
So for me, mix a little grain into your malted barley, you get banana bread. Go full grain or mostly grain, and you go full marshmallow.
 
NEVER go full marshmallow.
 
I kid.
 
My advice for learning Scotch quickly are as follows:
 
Find cask strength offerings that are matured in bourbon casks, usually easily identified by the light straw color. Used bourbon casks, especially older ones that were used when the Scotch that is now 15yrs+ was barrelled in, impart a gentler flavor to a Scotch, allowing you to truly taste the quality of the malt involved. 
 
Once you find a distillery that you like the core character of the malt, then start tasting it in different cask finishes and ages/proofs and see what you discover.
 
I highly recommend buying a small bottle of Oloroso sherry and Pedro Ximinez sherry and tasting them neat for what they are. Most sherried whisky is Oloroso casked, and when you taste the PX sherry, you'll know why I like PX casks.  After you do this, you'll identify how much of a malt is the malt, and how much is the sherry, and which type.
 
When I first started drinking Scotch I thought I preferred sherried ones. Then I tasted sherry on its own and realized I didn't like the taste of Oloroso. After that experience, I consider the sherry flavor in malts to be a major negative point, and now I only buy malts aged in bourbon, rum or cognac casks. I also dislike port, so port is a big no no for me.
 
If you like sherry and port, then a great point to drinking Scotch is the prevalence of offerings with this finish, similar to if you like peat.
 
I find Scottish malt to be harder work than bourbon. I like far fewer malts than I do bourbons. But the ones that I've found that I do like, I REALLY like. I've got a Linkwood that tastes like strawberry jam and cream. Some flavors like that aren't available in bourbon.
 
For my tastes, bad malt tastes cerealy and funky in a bad way, but a lot of people love those same ones. I like it when it tastes a little candylike. Kind of like the stick in a Fun Dip. If a malt does that, then age and the right cask can really result in fireworks.  Bowmore actually manages a citrus type sweet flavor which really compliments peat - get that in a bourbon cask and wow.
 
Btw I think the whole double distilled/triple distilled thing is a bit of marketing BS. Not that they don't triple distill like they say, I just don't think it's the most important factor. Much like the idea that every bourbon distillery claiming they have access to Kentucky's magic spring (and then you see the monster water treatment apparatus in the bottling hall). I think off the still proof is the most important factor relating to a whisky's complexity, the lower the better, just like bourbon (Booker's is the lowest distillation proof of the Beam line...yum yum). In Scotch much is made of the shape of the stills, in particular whether or not the lyne arm (the pipe coming off the top of the still) tilts upward or downward. Upward pointing lyne arms make the distillate fight to get up the pipe, causing the heavier components to fall back and eddy into the main still, which distillers call "reflux". This tends to yield a light and floral spirit, where a downward sloping lyne arm will have heavier bodied notes for exactly the opposite reasons.
 
My favorite distillates are Springbank (but it's too pricy in the US for me to bother with - btw Longrow is heavily peated Springbank distillate that comes off the still at the lowest proof, wink wink), Clynelish (Diageo, alas), Bowmore, Linkwood (a blending component only released in its pure form by independent bottlers), the aforementioned Coal Ila, Loch Lomond (particularly their Inchmurrin distillate), Glen Scotia, and I've had good luck with Benrinnes and some of the PX Cask Benriachs, I think it was.
 
I toured Auchentoshan last month. For me it was meh. Owned by Beam Suntory, FYI. I think it might be enjoyable if you can catch a distillery cask strength release bourbon cask. But while I was there the offering was sherry so it was a nope from me. At 40% their malt is a real yawner, and their limited edition cask strength stuff is priced like the crown jewels.
 
There ya go. There's some riffin' that I hope helps. 


This should be put into a sticky on Scotch.

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Marekv8
1 hour ago, The Black Tot said:

I'll put it in redneckier terms than above (excellent post Earthquake).

 

Irish whiskey for me splits the difference between Scottish grain whisky (which has marshmallow notes) and Scottish single malt.

 

Irish whiskey always has banana bread in the flavor profile hiding somewhere. Maybe Tyrconnell won't, because as Bruce stated it's a single malt.

 

So for me, mix a little grain into your malted barley, you get banana bread. Go full grain or mostly grain, and you go full marshmallow.

 

NEVER go full marshmallow.

 

I kid.

 

My advice for learning Scotch quickly are as follows:

 

Find cask strength offerings that are matured in bourbon casks, usually easily identified by the light straw color. Used bourbon casks, especially older ones that were used when the Scotch that is now 15yrs+ was barrelled in, impart a gentler flavor to a Scotch, allowing you to truly taste the quality of the malt involved. 

 

Once you find a distillery that you like the core character of the malt, then start tasting it in different cask finishes and ages/proofs and see what you discover.

 

I highly recommend buying a small bottle of Oloroso sherry and Pedro Ximinez sherry and tasting them neat for what they are. Most sherried whisky is Oloroso casked, and when you taste the PX sherry, you'll know why I like PX casks.  After you do this, you'll identify how much of a malt is the malt, and how much is the sherry, and which type.

 

When I first started drinking Scotch I thought I preferred sherried ones. Then I tasted sherry on its own and realized I didn't like the taste of Oloroso. After that experience, I consider the sherry flavor in malts to be a major negative point, and now I only buy malts aged in bourbon, rum or cognac casks. I also dislike port, so port is a big no no for me.

 

If you like sherry and port, then a great point to drinking Scotch is the prevalence of offerings with this finish, similar to if you like peat.

 

I find Scottish malt to be harder work than bourbon. I like far fewer malts than I do bourbons. But the ones that I've found that I do like, I REALLY like. I've got a Linkwood that tastes like strawberry jam and cream. Some flavors like that aren't available in bourbon.

 

For my tastes, bad malt tastes cerealy and funky in a bad way, but a lot of people love those same ones. I like it when it tastes a little candylike. Kind of like the stick in a Fun Dip. If a malt does that, then age and the right cask can really result in fireworks.  Bowmore actually manages a citrus type sweet flavor which really compliments peat - get that in a bourbon cask and wow.

 

Btw I think the whole double distilled/triple distilled thing is a bit of marketing BS. Not that they don't triple distill like they say, I just don't think it's the most important factor. Much like the idea that every bourbon distillery claiming they have access to Kentucky's magic spring (and then you see the monster water treatment apparatus in the bottling hall). I think off the still proof is the most important factor relating to a whisky's complexity, the lower the better, just like bourbon (Booker's is the lowest distillation proof of the Beam line...yum yum). In Scotch much is made of the shape of the stills, in particular whether or not the lyne arm (the pipe coming off the top of the still) tilts upward or downward. Upward pointing lyne arms make the distillate fight to get up the pipe, causing the heavier components to fall back and eddy into the main still, which distillers call "reflux". This tends to yield a light and floral spirit, where a downward sloping lyne arm will have heavier bodied notes for exactly the opposite reasons.

 

My favorite distillates are Springbank (but it's too pricy in the US for me to bother with - btw Longrow is heavily peated Springbank distillate that comes off the still at the lowest proof, wink wink), Clynelish (Diageo, alas), Bowmore, Linkwood (a blending component only released in its pure form by independent bottlers), the aforementioned Coal Ila, Loch Lomond (particularly their Inchmurrin distillate), Glen Scotia, and I've had good luck with Benrinnes and some of the PX Cask Benriachs, I think it was.

 

I toured Auchentoshan last month. For me it was meh. Owned by Beam Suntory, FYI. I think it might be enjoyable if you can catch a distillery cask strength release bourbon cask. But while I was there the offering was sherry so it was a nope from me. At 40% their malt is a real yawner, and their limited edition cask strength stuff is priced like the crown jewels.

 

There ya go. There's some riffin' that I hope helps. 

 

Great post— thank you— relatively young independent (and some OB) cask strength ex-Bourbon Bowmores are significant fun. 

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