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Greg Hartman

Single Malt For Dummies

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Flairball

I'm not much of a blend drinker, but the wife and I broke into this tonight. Wow.

The Japanese are making some really great whisky these days.

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cthemfly25
Abelour 16.  You can thank me later.

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Flairball
Abelour 16.  You can thank me later.

Aberlour 15. No need to thank me.

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Greg Hartman

Lots of good suggestions here - just what I was looking for.  I knew I came to the right place.   :D  :D

Thanks!

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jeff88
Lots of good suggestions here - just what I was looking for.  I knew I came to the right place.   :D  :D

Thanks!

Greg, good for me as well.  This has been a great thread.  I've been looking into scotch for a little while now and know a guy who not only has a huge scotch collection, seems to know a lot about it.  Used to be a bourbon/irish/rye guy, now I'm getting more into the scotches and liking a lot of them.

Found out a few things about my limited whiskey palette:

-When taste testing the same scotch maker, I usually go for the younger or middle-aged scotches versus the older one.  For instance, many 12 or 16 YO's seem better than the 18+ ones.

-While I enjoy limited amounts of "peaty" scotches, the less peaty ones seem better to me.

-No ice, no water no nothing -- whiskey should be drunken neat.  Only time I use rocks is in TX in the summer and I prefer using those fake cubes that don't melt.  Quiz question:  What movie had someone say "When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey, when I drink water, I drink water."

-----------------

Had a little party among the guys when our wives were all away together on one of their trips.  Called it whiskey and chocolate night.  We had 30+ whiskies of all kings and a ton of different types of chocolates.  They really went well together.  

----------------

PA State stores, no hunting on Sunday -- I'd still live in W PA over TX any time despite all the "Pennsyltuckians".  See you next week on the west banks of the Susquehanna.

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Laminarman
Who can recommend an online retailer for scotch?  We have free enterprise in NY, but locally we have limited pickings.  I am intrigued by this thread and getting thirsty....

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mshowman

Greg, I'm qualified to offer a dummy's tutorial of Scotch whisky based on the simple fact that I'm a dummy who knows what I like and what I don't.

When you see places of origin like Speyside and Highlands you can suspect a smooth scotch. Smooth = good. Lots of them have names that begin with Glen: Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie and Glenlivit are good examples. I took a bottle of Glenlivit Founders Reserve to ANF Grousin's cabin this weekend and it was excellent.

Whiskies that come from an area called Islay, and are described as peaty, are not smooth. They remind me of what it might taste like if I were to burn my boot sole in a campfire and snuff it out in a tar bucket full of turpentine. Peaty = not good at all! My wife was kind enough to buy me a bottle of scotch whisky for my birthday last year. She didn't know anything about scotch so she picked a label that looked good to her: Bowmore. Since her intentions were good I decided to keep her around but one drink of that stuff was enough to make me know I wouldn't be taking another.

Quite honestly, as much as I enjoy a nice smooth scotch, if I were advising someone on brown likkers, I'd definitely recommend they try a nice bourbon. Blanton's Single Barrel and Jefferson Reserve Very Rare/Very Small Batch are my favorites.

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Greg Hartman

Was shopping this morning before hunting and stopped by the State Sore armed with all of my new-found vast single malt expertise.   :D

The only single malt I could find that was recommended in this thread was Balvenie 12 year old Double Wood.  Got a bottle – not cheap – about $70, but they had stuff that went for over $250/bottle – crazy.  Anyway, I just tried a tiny post-hunt sip from the new jug – very good indeed.  I’m certainly no connoisseur, but I like it better than the excellent 10 year old Glenmorangie – more flavorful.

Thanks for the advice.  I shall continue my quest.

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MAArcher

Here's some info on spirits in general for dummies.

Its all made virtually the same way.  Some sort of plant matter is fermented (enzymes turn starches to sugar and then yeast turns sugar into alcohol), and some form of still is used to distill or separate the alcohol from the rest of the stuff.  An alcohol still is a simple contraption where a liquid mixture containing alcohol is boiled, and since alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than most other liquids, it turns into steam first.  The alcohol steam is then condensed; thereby separating the alcohol from the mixture.

Universally, spirits come off the still pretty clear and colorless.  its basically vodka and is at a higher proof than what the final product will be (how high a proof depending on the type of still and how it was run), it all tastes similar at high proof (very little flavor with alcohol burn, think Everclear).  

So why does it all taste so different off the store shelves?  I've read that an estimated 75% of the taste of spirits is from how its aged rather than what it was made from(traditionally potatoes for vodka, agave for Tequila and various combinations of Corn, Oats, Rye, Barley and Wheat for whiskey and scotch.)  

The other 25% of taste comes from what was fermented, how it was run on the still and how much it was diluted and the taste of the water it was diluted with.  Very efficient stills strip away flavors and a high proof ethanol is produced.  Less efficient stills, like traditional pot stills used in making bourbon, let more of the flavors through.  So a very efficient "reflux" still may be used to make a high proof clear flavorless vodka that comes off the still at 170+ proof and a less efficient pot still may be used to make whiskey that comes off the still at 130 proof.  

Interestingly, the number of times a spirit is distilled doesn't necessarily make it "better". A spirit may be distilled a number of times because it tastes bad the first time and flavor needs to be removed.  But it may also be distilled a number of times not because of bad flavor, but because a higher alcohol content is desired and or a more subtle flavor desired.  So if you look at two bottles of booze and one says triple distilled and the other does not, don't automatically think one is better than the other.  

Side note: the "X"'s on the side of old moonshine jugs are the number of times it was distilled, which all things being equal meant a stronger, cleaner, smoother product.  Today we have stills so efficient they can reach as close to pure alcohol as possible in just one pass.    

So when talking about spirits, its good to know how its made and how its aged, so when you happen upon something you like, you may be able to find similar things made the same way.  

Also, if you find you really like a certain well aged spirit like a 12 year or whatever, and you know that its aged in medium charged white oak barrels, you can actually buy the 3 year version, go out to your woodpile, cut a piece of whit oak into little ice cube sized blocks, bake them to medium char (there's guides to this on the interweb explaining the standards to identify char level), put the 3 year with a couple charred cubes into a mason jar, and in a manner of weeks you can have something closer to the 12 year product (due to the surface area ratio you can "age" small amounts of spirits many times faster than large quantities.)  You can also buy mini-barrels to do this.  And if your spirit is aged in barrels previously used to age wine, then you can soak the cube or mini barrel in some wine first, etc.; experimenting until you get what you want at a fraction of the price of lengthily aged spirits aged at the distillery.

You can learn a lot about the mechanics of making spirits at homedistiller.org under "Forums".  Chances are there's a recipe on there for your favorite spirit and you could make your own far easier than you'd expect if you don't mind being an outlaw moonshiner in your kitchen.

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Roost em 1st
Unfortunately the Scotch weenie "I can taste ten notes in this" crowd has infiltrated the Bourbon thing.

It doesn't change the whiskey but it raises prices and it's just plain annoying.

I wish this wasn't truth.

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Dogwood
Unfortunately the Scotch weenie "I can taste ten notes in this" crowd has infiltrated the Bourbon thing.

It doesn't change the whiskey but it raises prices and it's just plain annoying.

I wish this wasn't truth.

Then rise up and rebel!! Try a bottle of Evan Williams.  Cheap.  Great stuff IMO.  Kentucky's oldest bourbon distillery I believe.

I think we should all conduct our own blind taste tests and really sort out the bullsh*t!  Might be fun at bird camp or one of them there UJ get togethers.

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Ray Gubernat

Greg - I am not a huge scotch drinker, but I do have a few that I like.  Glenmorangie is probably my favorite single malt, followed closely by the Macallan French oak barrel aged.  I do not care for the peaty stuff.  Not at all.    

However to be honest, for economy and good flavor, I have yet to find something better than Ballantine 12 year old.  

I have had a couple of really nice(and pricey) Irish whiskies and will choose to drink Bushmills.

I am not much of a bourbon drinker.  Don't care for much for the ones that I've tried and I've tried a bunch.  They all bite like heck to me and do much better mixed with Pepsi over ice.

I do tend to like a good rye whiskey.  It goes down pretty smooth for me, but if I want something to sip and smell and enjoy, a snifter of Courvosier is what I choose.  Remy Martin has a better aroma, but it is a bit harsher to my taste.

Just keep in mind that these evaluations come form a guy who would just as soon tip back a mug of draft Genny Cream Ale, or a draft Yuengling, and if I ain't driving, mixing in a shooter of Seagram's VO, CC or Crown Royal is not at all out of the question.

RayG

RayG

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Flairball

Ginger and I checked in, and unpacked at our great north woods motel about an half hour ago. Of course I brought a good bottle along for some evening sipping.

But I have a few whisky thoughts I'd like to share.

I view scotch (I'm primarily a scotch drinker) the same way I view wine. When one tastes a glass of wine they know it's wine, but all wines whether they be red, white, rose, sparkling, have a different, distinct flavor. It's the same with scotch. When you taste a scotch you know it's a scotch, but each distillery and region has its own distinct flavor. I like them all, and like wine choose them based on various factors. In the colder weather I tend to drink peaty malts. In the summer I tend to drink woody malts. Try them all, and don't feel like you must have any type of loyalty to any particular flavor profile.

There is no right or wrong way to drink them. I like my scotch neat. To that end, that means that yes, I put a drop or two, and in some cases a bit more water in it. I don't by any stretch drink a half malt. There is a science to this madness; mouth burn. Anytime a whisky creeps above 49 % ABV is starts to have a lot of alcohol mouth burn. A couple good drops of water will bring this down a little bit, and allow you to get the true flavor of the whisky. The key is to find what works for you, but truthfully, if your mouth is burning you really aren't getting all the favors you paid for.

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Roost em 1st
Unfortunately the Scotch weenie "I can taste ten notes in this" crowd has infiltrated the Bourbon thing.

It doesn't change the whiskey but it raises prices and it's just plain annoying.

I wish this wasn't truth.

Then rise up and rebel!! Try a bottle of Evan Williams.  Cheap.  Great stuff IMO.  Kentucky's oldest bourbon distillery I believe.

I think we should all conduct our own blind taste tests and really sort out the bullsh*t!  Might be fun at bird camp or one of them there UJ get togethers.

Ha! Funny, thats my current budget bourbon. It was even better when it was aged 8 years, They have all gone that way it seems, No Age Statements (NAS) Wild turkey 8 yr, WL Weller 7yr, Antique Weller 7 yr, Old Charter 8 yr (10 yr vanished altogther), recent label changes on Jim Beam Black that went from 8 yr, to double aged to aged, Elijah Craig 12yr. All gone in the last decade. Turkey maybe longer ago, 15 years I think, easy to research when just look for when Russels Reserve 10 yr came out and back up 2 years.

For singlemalt I like eating peat, laphroiag, occasionally I will sip a Balvenie Double Wood. Greg, if you genuinely like the Balvenie DW you may like a bourbon or two, it is a crossover point in my opinion. If a bourbon drinker asks what scotch he might like I suggest the Double Wood.

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john mcg

The Cherokee/Scot princess brought home a bottle of 16 year Lagavulin.

Ah yes...a wee dram and a bowl of Ruins of Isingard after the first bird with the new BUL.

Very satisfying.

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