Help me avoid the siren song of that Johnny Walker "The Man Who Walked Around the World" ad!
September 11, 2010 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Gift-worthy Scotch Whiskey, preferably one that goes well with a tobacco pipe in the evening?

A dear friend of mine has a birthday coming up at the end of the month, and I'd love to buy him a nice bottle of Scotch as a present.

Generally speaking, he enjoys peatier Scotches that can be drunk neat or on the rocks. He also particularly looks forward to the gentlemanly feeling of a good smoke and a good drink co-mingling, so if there's a Scotch that compliments pipe tobacco that would be even better.

I'll look through this earlier question, as well, but more specific recommendations would be very much appreciated!

I live in Brooklyn, NY, and would prefer to support local liquor stores if possible, either out here or in Manhattan.
posted by Narrative Priorities to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like what you're looking for is a good Islay single malt. All of them tend to be quite peaty in flavour. There are too many good ones to list here but a little googling should help. I'm quite partial to Lagavulin if that helps.
posted by Nick Jordan at 7:48 AM on September 11, 2010

posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:49 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Islay whiskies tend to be quite peaty and smoky and delicious.

Laphroaig is a classic, of course. Ardbeg is also good. I've always liked the Bowmore 12. Lagavulin tends to be a little less smoky, but still rather...medicinal. Bruichladdich is lighter on the smoke in most of their offerings, but they have some blends that are heavily smoked - too heavily, some say, but I like the Octomore II.

Damn. Now I want some. But it's not even 8 am. Guess I'll wait a bit.
posted by rtha at 7:52 AM on September 11, 2010

2nding Octomore. It's a really, really delicious whisky with the added bonus of being the world's most peated whisky which is a pretty cool story to tell when serving it to friends.
posted by sveskemus at 8:13 AM on September 11, 2010

Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Freaking fantastic, peaty, Islay scotch. It's a lot more complex than the other Laphroaigs, and each bottle has a unique character. Great gift.
posted by kryptonik at 8:15 AM on September 11, 2010

I love Caol Ila, which is very smoky and peaty. Lagavulin is good, too, and less smoky.

If you think he might like something outside his normal choices, Sheep Dip is a tasty blended whiskey; very smooth but not as smoky or peaty as an Islay.
posted by neushoorn at 8:17 AM on September 11, 2010

N'thing laphroaig and lagavulin. I've never had the quarter cask, but now you have me intrigued.
posted by TheBones at 8:31 AM on September 11, 2010

Best answer: Can't say that I disagree with any of these suggestions, but -- right now I'm having a small love affair with Highland Park.

Terrible name, but a remarkably well-balanced whisky. Astonishingly well-balanced. And it works with well with my cubans, I can't imagine it wouldn't also work with a good pipe smoke.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:33 AM on September 11, 2010

(Well-balanced, but it's still a peaty, island whisky. Definitely.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:35 AM on September 11, 2010

Highland Park is fantastic. I'm also a big fan of Talisker.

What is your price range? You could also consider older whiskies. They tend to be smoother and more complex. As I don't smoke, I couldn't tell you whether they would go better or worse with tobacco.
posted by sesquipedalian at 8:54 AM on September 11, 2010

I love Ledaig 10-year from the Tobermory distillery. It's mega-peaty and I think it went very nicely with full-bodied cigars.

To throw in two more cents, if you are specifically looking for something that will go with a pipe, you may also want to consider an aged beer or barleywine. There are some really nice gift-worthy bottles around, and big malty beers are great with tobacco (plus, you can take a big gulp rather than a tiny sip).
posted by hammurderer at 9:06 AM on September 11, 2010

Seconding Laphroaig quarter cask.
posted by chicago2penn at 9:16 AM on September 11, 2010

Best answer: I can not help but note that single malt scotch should not be drunk on the rocks (or neat, for that matter). Traditionally you add a splash of water to help bring out the aromatics. Ideally this water should come directly from a mountain stream, but I realize that's a tall order.

I love Tallisker and Lagavulin. You might also try Oban (not as peaty, but delicious). These are all reasonably well known, however, and a scotch drinker who likes their stuff will probably have heard of them. Ardbeg is a little smaller, perhaps that would work well. Cardhu is not particularly peaty, but had an unusual and distinctive taste that I quite liked. It's pretty obscure in the US, I think.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2010

Also n'thing the big Islays. Also seconding Laphroaig Quarter Cask which is a hell of a peaty, smooth bang for your buck. The 10-year old is fine but the Quarter Cask is a notch up.

Other than that, Ardbeg Uigeadail is pretty knockout and scored massively in the Whisky Bible last year, and both the Caol Ila and Lagavulin Distiller's Editions are a peat-lover's delight.

You can certainly find some of these at Uva in Williamsburg.
posted by Decani at 9:59 AM on September 11, 2010

If he's into smoky scotch, he's definitely already tried Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Oban, and Lagavulin. The Ardbeg Uigeadail is a good choice, as is Octomore II and Laphroig Quarter Cask, since they are a bit more obscure.

I'm partial to Murray McDavid's offerings myself, one that might fit your bill is the 1999 Laphroaig 10 Year Old, Murray McDavid Chateau Margaux Finish Islay Single Malt. You'd have to check which local scotch places stock Murray McDavid, these are pretty hard to find. If you do get it though, you can be fairly assured he doesn't already have a bottle at home.
posted by benzenedream at 11:11 AM on September 11, 2010

posted by jannw at 11:36 AM on September 11, 2010

Response by poster: These have all been fantastic suggestions so far, thank you!

One thing to note: my friend loves Scotch, but it's a relatively recent interest and as he's on a tight budget, not one that he's had much of an opportunity to indulge in. He doesn't have a collection of any kind, so much-loved standards are just as helpful to me as unusual or rare suggestions are -- the important thing is deliciousness!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:40 AM on September 11, 2010

Highland Park 12 is what I recommend to friends that have only ever had (and hated) Scotch on airplanes. It's easy but complex. The HP 15, on the other hand, is still wonderfully accessible but even more complex - if you can find it.

At the other end of the spectrum is Ardbeg: the Supernova (again, if you can find it) is like drinking a burned tree, while the Beist and even the Corryvreckan are approachable versions of such.

Another option that's off the deep end are the Renegade Rums - done by Murray McDavid as an offshoot of the single-vintage rums MM already does, filtered/bottled at Bruichladdich. They're wonderfully weird and very friendly to Scotch lovers.
posted by kcm at 12:04 PM on September 11, 2010

Sorry, the HP 15 I was referring to is the Signatory release, not the normal yellow/green label release.
posted by kcm at 12:07 PM on September 11, 2010

nthing Laphroaig (10yr or quarter cask are both great) and Talisker. My faves! Lagavulin has a slightly sourish note to me that I didn't like (though I've only tried it once), though I know it's loved by many.

For something a bit less punchy than Laphroaig (IMO the peatiest of them all), perhaps Peat Monster. It's a blend, milder than the Islay scotches though still plenty smokey, and unlike single malts, I wouldn't hesitate to put on the rocks.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 1:08 PM on September 11, 2010

Bowmore 12 is a good start, very yummy, easy to find, not expensive.
posted by Vindaloo at 1:26 PM on September 11, 2010

Nobody mentioned double cask maturing yet. It is a recent fad, but I fully embrace it. I looooove Talisker that has been matured in amoroso sherry casks (Destillers Edition). I would caution against the powerful peat of Laphroaig, it's an aquired taste. But then I am a big softy.
posted by mmkhd at 2:41 PM on September 11, 2010

Best answer: Lagavulin is terribly overpriced in (large parts of) the US; Laphroaig QC is on the money, as is Highland Park 12.

What kind of tobacco does he put in his pipe? "English" blends with Latakia? Cavendish blends? Something more Oriental? If he's a Cavendish smoker, then he might want something that complements the vanilla; for something like Dunhill 965, a peat monster or the pepper prickle of Talisker may be a better complement.
posted by holgate at 3:17 PM on September 11, 2010

Response by poster: What kind of tobacco does he put in his pipe?

He's a particular fan of "Squadron Leader" and "Plum Cake," that I know of.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:30 PM on September 11, 2010

Best answer: Okay, Squadron Leader is a medium English, Plum Cake is a rummy, fruity Cavendish, so maybe back away from the peat monsters for something with a little more sweetness: Highland Park 12, Bowmore or Caol Ila fit the bill, and the standard Bruichladdich as opposed to the peat+peat+peat bottlings.
posted by holgate at 5:18 PM on September 11, 2010

Best answer: Popping in to say Glen Ord is a good match with Plum Cake. Talisker has similar fruity/christmas cakey notes (they both malt their barley at Glen Ord) but goes peatier and slightly more mineral.
posted by Cuppatea at 3:12 AM on September 12, 2010

Response by poster: Ultimately opted for the Bruichladdich Oloroso 1998 Sherry Series, but when I need a somewhat less extravagant "You've had a really shitty week" pick-me-up, I'll be getting him a bottle of the Highland Park 12 -- it sounds fantastic!

Thank you all so much for your help, I'll certainly be coming back to this thread in the future! Making the decision was kind of absurdly difficult thanks to all these excellent suggestions!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:17 AM on September 13, 2010

« Older Look, mom! I'm a calendar girl!   |   Help me get back in the loop! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.