Whiskey - It's the water of life!

Homoerotic Cougar-kun

Daddy's got a new ride, kiddies.
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Followup on Skrewball experiment: Chambord too sweet, tried a Strawberries and Cream liqueur with good results. Trying Creme de Banana next and gonna add a crispy bacon slice as a stirstick/garnish.
 
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teriyakiburns

Nothing like waiting till the last minute, huh?
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I bought a single malt Speyside scotch. Forgot which one it was but fuck me it's good. Also expensive.
Speyside is probably the single most productive whisky region in Scotland, so that's not narrowing it down much.

But! If you can get hold of it, my favourite speyside is Dufftown. It has a funky bottle and it tastes like walking in an orchard in spring right after someone has mowed the grass.
 

vertexwindi

That's for employing me for eight years!
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It was Cragganmore. Asked for a spicy scotch and that's what the salesman recommended. I'll try Dufftown though.
 

Man vs persistent rat

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I have a young Dufftown coming up next once I clear out a few bottles, not tried the distillery before and looking forward to it. Throwing out a rec for speysider Dailuaine if you come across it, it doesn't have much in the way of official bottlings, but is an absolute fruit bomb.

Edit: it's nice to try something that is an entirely new flavour to you - the Dufftown 7 yo (Carn Mor) took a good 5 mins in the glass for me to even be able to describe a nose (extremely mild even at 46%), but when it developed it was the most autumn fruit/green apple flavour I've encountered. I've noticed apple notes in Arran and some Highland Parks, but it's very pronounced here. It has elements of the light malt flavour (Benrinnes, Auchentoshan) and also the fragrant sense of a Benriach, but is entirely individual and subtle in a manner that is new to me :)
 
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Man vs persistent rat

A good egg is a nice person
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Bump, sperging because nobody I know irl cares. Functional-alcoholic Scotch journey has moved into new territory. I've slowly realised how limited I am on options for a certain style that I have come to enjoy, 'dirty malt' kind of describes it, though that is also a technical term based on how something is distilled. It is in opposition to the current industry wisdom of sanitising products, and goes hand-in-hand with another industry taboo of offering volumes above 40% abv. Due to the limited amount of distilleries producing product this, it's easy to group into just richly flavoured malts, but what it really requires is a certain savoury and full-bodied quality in the mouth that can appear rude, but if you enjoy it, is hard to find examples of . The best I could suggest are Mortlach, Edradour, Benromach, and Springbank.

Mortlach is wonderful in every way though is very variable in independent bottlings (can be great or disappointing). The official bottlings are decent enough, and while a touch expensive, both the official 12 and 16 are worthwhile, though other versions are floating around (at the moment a travel retail 14 has leaked into UK online stores and is currently better value for the vintage than the other two). Reading about its distillation process requires some type of doctorate to understand (attached below).

Edradour can be rough but that is part of the charm, and they have made an admirable commitment to releasing as many versions of their product as possible. Even the 10 and 12 mass-market versions are good, and are both semi-sherried in differing ways (one two barrels combined, the other the same stock matured consecutively in two barrels, iirc), but it's the quirky connoisseur options that I would urge people to look out for if they have the money for a little luxury purchase. They have two decanter-style bottles, one of ex-bourbon casks and one of ex-sherry, and both can blow your socks off in their different ways. They also have a virgin oak, and a different full-sherried offering (oloroso, vs. the unspecified decanter edition, not that oloroso is particularly fancy or anything). The distillery owners are wonderful in their wrongthink of associating cask strength with single cask, usually offering such an unpolished and elemental version of their product would horrify a multinational-owned distillery, where you have to whine and whine until they release even a strong version of something, but not so here. I think even their mass-market 12 (Caledonia), chillfiltered as it is, is still technically single-cask. The absolute mad lads. The flavour is a little less 'elegant' than Mortlach, highly cereal but with a lot of water and time it tempers down. The owners of the distillery also own the independent bottler Signatory, and they have a more affordable (depending on your region) 46% sherried version that is a fantastic entry-point. I can't comment on their cask-finished versions (eg. wine), but then I don't really have much time for those in general. There's also a peated version called Ballechin although while it's decent and often reasonably-priced for a 10 yo, the already rather aggressive house flavour can find itself in unceremonious conflict with the peated element, but if you like it feisty, this is that.

Benromach is another distillery owned by an independent bottler, and also produces a rather uncompromising product. Despite their branding of being some type of classic Speyside malt, they are anything but. The Speyside flavour stands for blandness and uniformity and Benromach's 10 and 15 are elemental, rude, smokey creations - not quite semi-peated in the 50/50 sense, but with a strong element of it). The 10 is one of the best value quality Scotches in the UK at the moment, around £10 less than much of its natural competition, and the 15 packs a punch. There is also a cask strength 10 because it's owned by people who care about flavour. Unsurprisingly the owners (Gordon & MacPhail) also do a good bottling of Mortlach, though at 43%, which they seem to believe is sufficient (which Benromach to be fair, it is).

Even outside of this particular sub-interest, Springbank remains one of the off the beaten path places for Scotch flavour tourists to experience. If you like Talisker, Springbank can offer a similar experience that is at once more powerful but also more complex and refined. Like Talisker it is smoky rather than peaty, but unlike the rather rough and (hot take) under-developed Talisker 10, Springbank's 10 and 15 are given the quality of cask and care over distillation required to reach its full potential at these age points. There is also a cask strength 10 because of course there is. Springbank is run with less of a profit-motivation than most distilleries, which allows it a competitive pricepoint vs. similar quality malts, despite enthusiast demand (special editions or high vintages sell out quite quickly). Where distilleries such as Oban and Lagavulin have become soulless robotic nightmares operated by computers and with increasingly shitty product as skilled knowledge by workers is lost, Springbank has become a bit of a mecca for workers in the industry who give a shit about what they make. They employ a lot of workers, and train new generations of people (which to their credit, other places like Balvenie also do) who make product the hard way, through complete control over the crop being malted through the numerous steps before being distilled, and then uses direct-fired stills (an absolute heresy in modern Scotch production, as the process is not idiot-proof). As with Edradour, they take pride in their product and are keen to make available as many versions as possible. As a result, their standard release of Springbank, which is semi-peated, is accompanied by a release of Hazelburn, which is unpeated and nominally in a lowland style, but tastes complex and ambiguous in the way unpeated Caol Ila or Oban do, which a north highland complexity as well, and Longrow, which is fully peated, although alarmingly the base version has gone from 10 yo to no age statement, a single black-mark against a great distillery. Longrow might push your limits a little even if you're familiar with Islay, as it has a certain juicy/floral flavour that can be offputting compared to the crispness of an Ardbeg or the phenols of Laphroaig. The similarly sometimes offputting flavour of Caol Ila comes closest, though that can be rather dry.

If you're a bourbon drinker and find Scotch (outside of fully-peated numbers) to be a little weak or lacking in mouthfeel, do give some of these distilleries a go. They take the slightly 'off' note that makes Glenlivet what it is, and run with it.

Other options are rather one Glenfarclas which is mostly known as a sherry bomb, but is sadly a little old-school in its presentation (43 rather than 46%, chillfiltered), yet still retains some of these big-in-the-mouth qualities thanks in part to their rare use of direct-fired stills. It used to also be very underpriced for what it is, selling unusually in 1 litre bottles, but they're in the process of normalising (sadly). Jura is potentially another, it's highly sanitised in its official version, but independent bottlings have some room for discovery, although often they are only the sherried or unsherried portions. Craigallechie is another slightly rough malt that derives its flavour from its unusual process of distillation, however it's closer to citric north-Highland malts such as Ord, Tamnavulin, and Balblair, or to tie it back, unsherried Jura. Other outliers which may be able to produce product like this, but only hint towards it (good in their own rights, though) include Ben Nevis (can have a very savoury salty quality a little like Mortlach, though not as full-bodied), Tullibardine, Glen Scotia (an over-performer full of dark fruity flavours, also has a limited edition rum finish with some peat), Kilkerran (a good place to check if you want more of an Islay style), Glenturret (by reputation - I have not tried this one, waiting on the new owners to release a better bottling than current). Ardmore at its absolute peak can apparently do this, but it's unobtainium. Highland Park in independent bottlings can either be just rough, or rough in all the right ways (Cask Orkney is great once it settles down), but at this point the original mandate has been left behind, as it's just a good middling Scotch.

Unrelated to previous autism but if you enjoy lowland/light malts, Bladnoch 10 is expensive but immensely worth it. Similar creamy/butterscotch flavour to Balblair or Glen Garioch, the warm cereal/graininess of GlenAllachie (also highly recommended), but with a lot else going on. Speyburn is also a great discovery, at least in the UK is stupid cheap for an age-statement single malt and is fruity and all-round good-tempered.
 

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Boris Blank's glass eye

Ring the bell, Roll down the street
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IMO Jameson is the best of the entry level whiskeys. It's pleasant neat, unlike all of the mixer scotches.
Writers Tears is probably the best Irish whiskey this side of Readbreast, and they have yearly cask strength releases which sell out pretty fast.

Hankey Bannister Heritage Blend is a literal time capsule. Allegedly, some people found a number of pristine bottles from the interwar period, and Hankey Bannister's master blender recreated them. Bottled at 46% ABV and non-chill filtered, it's very different from today's scotches. Very sweet, flowery, honeyed taste. Initially planned to be "just this 5000 bottles", it became a permanent offering.

Glenfarclas, aside from the young 8yro is also great. I've just opened my first bottle of 105 yesterday, and it was an experience. Just a drop of water is all it needs if you can't handle it neat.

Compass Box. Some are better than others, but they all have character.

Get an Isle of Skye 8yro if you're on a budget. Caramel sweetness with a touch of peat and saline water at the same price as a JW Red, but you won't need soda for this.

I might be crucified for this, but the basic Maker's Mark is overrated. I found it to be just a slightly stronger, more expensive Four Roses (Yellow Label). I prefer more rye in my bourbon, so Bulleit, Wild Turkey 101, and Four Roses are good in my book.
Sadly I can't get Four Roses Single Barrel select bottles here in Europe.

Canadian Club Classic Small Batch (12yro). Nothing special, but very pleasant caramel&toffee with all the spice you'd ever want.
 

Pocket_Sand!

The sand is not in my pockets, but in my soul.
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but the basic Maker's Mark is overrated
Maker's Mark is popular because it's trendy right now. That's not to say it's a bad bourbon, far from it, it's as you say overrated. It's like back when Jack Daniels really took off in the late 90's, most of it's success was due to marketing and affordability, Maker's Mark is IMO doing the same basic thing.

As an aside on the scotch front, I recently picked up a Glengoyne 12 after being on a bit of an Islay kick for a while. I wanted something without the peat notes, and the Glengoyne definitely delivered. Very smooth with pleasant caramel and vanilla notes and just a hint of spice. Very nice on the rocks which is how I take most of my whiskeys.
 

Boris Blank's glass eye

Ring the bell, Roll down the street
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In preparation for my coming birthday I ordered and received some booze.

One bottle was a great deal on some aged vintage rum from my birth year. The label and some information on the producer's site suggests it's a blend of aged vintage and old solera-aged rums, but that's just my conjecture.

Another bottle was a Tomatin Legacy, which is a cheap NAS single malt bottled at 43% ABV. Some reviewers seem to like it, some even love it, others aren't impressed. The whisky was awarded several medals, and Jim Murray gave it 88/100 in the 2020 edition of his Whisky Bible. So far I like what I see on the box and the bottle, my short review will be coming along soon-ish.

In the mean time, I finished my bottle of JW Black and a sampler of The Irishman Single Malt.
I don't think the former needs introduction, the latter is produced by family-owned distillery Walsh Whiskey.

It's a very well-made, safe, but ultimately, a little bit boring whiskey. It tastes exactly like one would expect it: a bit oaky malty sweetness, vanilla, almonds and honey, toffee, a hint of apricots and cherries. The finish is more of the same, a continuation of these flavours until they disappear.
It would make a great everyday dram and an even better introduction to whiskey.
 

Pocket_Sand!

The sand is not in my pockets, but in my soul.
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It would make a great everyday dram and an even better introduction to whiskey.
Absolutely agree. One thing I can't stand is self appointed "Whisky Sommeliers" discovering someone is new to whisky and handing them a heavily peated Ardbeg or a cask strength Laphroaig. When they sputter and cough at what is, admittedly, a very severe dram, they perceive that all whisky tastes like a burning Band-Aid doused in rubbing alcohol, and they lose out on a varied and fascinating world of taste.

I always keep a few bottles of what many deem to be boring or starter whiskies around, just so my friends and acquaintances who aren't ready for something crazy can have a nice mild dram to enjoy.
 

Man vs persistent rat

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Does Maker's Mark have the fake plastic wax in the US too? If I didn't prefer others in its price-range, I'd still be unable to buy it for how cheap and tacky that looks and feels.
 
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Man vs persistent rat

A good egg is a nice person
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I'd never seen it in person (it's not super popular where I live) before I ordered it online. For whatever reason I assumed they used real wax and that this was the novelty that explained its price-point, the plastic reality feels more like a shitty children's toy. It makes budgetary sense I am sure but it's even cornier than Dalmore's plastic deer.
 

AnOminous

Really?
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I'd never seen it in person (it's not super popular where I live) before I ordered it online. For whatever reason I assumed they used real wax and that this was the novelty that explained its price-point, the plastic reality feels more like a shitty children's toy. It makes budgetary sense I am sure but it's even cornier than Dalmore's plastic deer.
They actually sued (and won) to prohibit Cuervo from using a similar seal.
 

Pocket_Sand!

The sand is not in my pockets, but in my soul.
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Japanese whiskey goes down smooth.
The Nikka Coffey Still whiskies are excellent, particularly the Coffey Malt which is becoming harder to find in the US due to it's popularity. The Coffey Grain is good to, and far more available, but not as good as the Malt. I also recently picked up a bottle of Hibiki the "Japanese Harmony" blend, and it too is excellent.