I do so love the whisky.
January 27, 2012 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I drink a lot of whisky and I have some favorite bottles. Can you recommend others to try?

Right now I have these in the liquor cabinet (assume all are the baseline bottle unless noted):

Laphroaig
Lagavulin
Ardmore (for the intersection of price and taste, this is our house scotch)
Oban
Aberlour (12 year)

In the past year, I have kept:
Balvenie (Doublewood)
Redbreast (12 year)
Jameson (12 year)
Johnnie Walker Double Black (not Black)
Probably some others I can't remember.

I also have:
Bulleit rye
Old Overcoat rye
Makers
And have kept a bunch of other whisk(e)y/rye/bourbon odds and ends.

I tend to gravitate towards Islays these days; I'll probably go back to lighter whiskys in the summer, but they seem so thin compared to a nice Laphroaig. I am enjoying the Aberlour, though; the 12-year is really spicy and tingly.

I'm planning on catching up with an Ardbeg when there's room in the liquor cabinet--I think it's the only whisky smokier than Laphroaig on this handy flavor map (though not necessarily in the world, of course).

What else should I be looking out for? What's smokier than an Ardbeg? Spicier than a Aberlour 12? Salty? Just weird? No need to stay just with single malts, or just Scotch whiskys--there are, obviously US spirits up top, and I've really enjoyed my Irish whiskeys. Any Japanese Suntory/Yamizaki oddities? Push my boundaries.

Any of the higher lines particularly worth the premium (Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Triple Wood, etc.)?

I'm generally limited to Boston-area liquor stores, but a Highland pilgrimage may be in my future sometime...
posted by Admiral Haddock to Food & Drink (70 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't like scotch but since you listed a couple good ryes: I love love love all the Hudson bourbons, rye and whiskeys, particularly the Hudson Baby Bourbon from Tuthiltown Spirits.
posted by spicynuts at 11:12 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Woodford Reserve makes my favorite bourbons.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:13 AM on January 27, 2012


My favorite Islay is Bowmore. It's very smokey. It's very, very delicious. It tastes like beach camping.

Last weekend, I tried the Yamazaki 18-year. It was utterly fantastic. That's all I can say to describe it.

My favorite rye lately has been Michters. For bourbons, I really like Pogue, Bulleit (as you've listed) and especially Blantons.
posted by General Malaise at 11:13 AM on January 27, 2012


Caol Ila is a little salty and delicious. I still prefer the Balvenie, but it's a nice change.

I'm also a fan of Bowmore as a good solid scotch. You also might try the Campbeltowns, they're more available here now, I like the Longrow, and the smokiness reminds me of an Islay.
posted by ldthomps at 11:15 AM on January 27, 2012


Here's a British Columbia Rye Whisky, McLoughlin and Steele, that is extremely nummy. If you can find it south of the Border or can order it, do so, it's very good.
posted by LN at 11:17 AM on January 27, 2012


Booker's is a single-cask, cask-strength bourbon named for Booker Noe, Jim Beam's master distiller, and is also my favorite bourbon in the world. At $40-$50, it's a steal.

Knockendo 12 /nock-en-due/ is my favorite scotch. I've had bottles that range upwards of $300, available only by auction, and so obscure the googles do nothing (other than to note when the distillery went out of business). Knockendo for me.

As a dessert-aperitif-type scotch, I like to keep a bottle of Bunnahabhain (/boo-nuh-hah-vun/) around. It's very, very drinkable - the phrase "butter-scotch" comes to mind (but it's not liqueur-level sweet).

I also like Maker's Mark (for the bourbon version of Bunnahabhain), and Jim Beam regular (for mixed drinks, but it's still nice enough for sipping).
posted by IAmBroom at 11:18 AM on January 27, 2012


If you're looking for something a little different, try to find the Glen Breton. It's Canadian, a little lighter (essentially no peat) but a really nice sipping whisky. I'm also partial to the MacAllan 21.

On the bourbon side, Knob Creek is pretty solid.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:19 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a big fan of Bruichladdich.
posted by smitt at 11:20 AM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bruichladich is lovely, not too peaty and very nice flavours, not over-powering at all.

I've also really enjoyed the following:

Glen Garioch, Laphroaig quarter cask, Bowmore (almost any variant is fine), AnCnoc (lovely dram so it is, very light but flavoursome). These are all malt whiskies. My favourite blend would be Black Bottle which is of a better quality than Famous Grouse et al.
posted by Scottie_Bob at 11:22 AM on January 27, 2012


And honestly, I think that Laphroig is about as smoky as you can go. Even Ardbeg isn't as smoky or peaty (to me at least) as Laphroig, especially the younger Laphs.
posted by Scottie_Bob at 11:23 AM on January 27, 2012


Oh jeez, and no one has mentioned Glenmorangie, which is my go-to scotch.
posted by smitt at 11:23 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I keep on thinking of more! The best Irish whisky I've had was Connemara Peated Single Malt. That is amazing and made me think lots more of Irish whisky than I had before I tasted it.
posted by Scottie_Bob at 11:24 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mmm, Glenmorangie is fine, it's just a bit... uninspiring. It's kind of like Glenfiddich. It's fine at a push, but if you can get something else, it's worthwhile :)
posted by Scottie_Bob at 11:25 AM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just had a glass of St George the other day - spicy and sweet but not in a cloying way (my tastes seem to generally match yours - I am not into sweet scotches.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:25 AM on January 27, 2012


I'm actually offended by the comparison of Glenmorangie to Glenfiddich. ;)
posted by smitt at 11:26 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not smoky, but definitely on the weird side: The Knot. It's an Irish that is absolutely nothing like any other Irish I've had, with all of its sugar caramelized. Hundred proof, fairly acidic, and my go-to when it gets cold.

They carry it at Blanchard's in Allston for about $25 a bottle, so you're not out much if you're not a fan.
posted by Mayor West at 11:27 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bourbon fan here. I love Woodford Reserve too but my true favorite small batch bourbon is Basil Hayden.

I would add that you cannot top Jamesons Irish whiskey, imho. Bushmills does not cut it.
posted by bearwife at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Dimple Pinch is probably the world's best "normal offering" blended; unfortunately, so many people discovered it's about as good as Glenlivet that it's now priced about the same. Plus, it has a cool bottle.

Names to avoid:

Jura - inconsistent; some years are downright salty.
Loch Dhu "the Black Whiskey" - forgive me, ghost of Rabbie, but I'm glad the distillery went out of business.
Highland Park - as generic as scotch can get - imagine Kevin Costner playing William Wallace.
Glenfiddich - it's not that it's a bad whiskey; it's that you can find ones so much better for the price - starting with Glenlivet.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2012


Rittenhouse! Rittenhouse bottled in bond [100 proof] specifically. It's getting a little tricky to find right now but at $21-24 a bottle it's an absurdly good deal. So spicy and complex, but so much smoother than Old Overholt. Great in an Old-Fashioned or pretty much any whiskey cocktail and I almost prefer it for sipping over Hudson or Michters.

I love it so much I finally joined Metafilter just to tell you this.
posted by zingiberene at 11:44 AM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is a popular Askme.

Islays? Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Caol Ila for the peat beasts. Bowmore for something a bit more middling. Bruichladdich and Bunnahabain for the lower end of the peat scale. As someone else has mentioned, Bunnahabain often has a rather pleasant saltiness about it.

Ardbeg Uigedail is a monster, and you should try it.
posted by Decani at 11:45 AM on January 27, 2012


Oh, and yes, Laphroaig Quarter Cask is bloody gorgeous. But then I can get it much cheaper than you probably can, because I'm in the UK. Ha.
posted by Decani at 11:47 AM on January 27, 2012


My list of favorite whiskys from a tasting party is a few you have on hand, plus Ardbeg and Caol Ila. So I'll add my vote for those two!
posted by grapesaresour at 11:47 AM on January 27, 2012


Lots of generalization going on here. The Highland Park 12 is indeed a generic scotch, and in fact, I recommend it as a first bottle to those unfamiliar with non-airplane scotch. The HP18, on the other hand, is a great expression of a smooth oaked scotch with a lot of top-note flavors like pepper.

"Ardbeg" also tells you little, as the 10 is brutal yet boring, whereas the Supernova (and Supernova 2, if you can find either) is a fantastic, salty peat monster, and the Alligator is an intense but sweet smoke that balances the rest of the recent expressions (the Corryvrecken and SN).

Finally, if you like peat, the Bruchladdich Octomores are phenolithic phenomenons.
posted by kcm at 12:04 PM on January 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


For some good Ryes try:

Whistle Pig Rye: 10 year old Rye made by the former master distiller of Maker's Mark. Roughly $70 per bottle.

Redemption Rye: Very young (bottle says not older then 4 years). But shockingly good. A steal at $25 per bottle.
posted by Mr. X at 12:05 PM on January 27, 2012


If you can get your hands on a bottle of Templeton Rye, it's worth it.

FWIW, the story behind it is true. Years ago, I used to get an unlabeled mason jar of it dropped off at my office every year from a client who lived near Templeton.
posted by webhund at 12:05 PM on January 27, 2012


HOW HAS NO ONE MENTIONED TALISKER YET

Also, check out "Peat Monster" from Compass Box (a fancy whisky blending company); it's based on Caol Ila, worth drinking on its own too. Their "Flaming Heart" blend is nice too if you can find it, still smoky but a bit warmer.
posted by RogerB at 12:11 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, just to add an anecdata point on this question:

Any of the higher lines particularly worth the premium (Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Triple Wood, etc.)?

I've tasted a few of the Distiller's Edition bottles from Lagavulin, and they've ranged from merely very good to the best Scotch I've ever had. They're quite pricey, though.
posted by RogerB at 12:15 PM on January 27, 2012


What's smokier than an Ardbeg?

Octomore II is like licking a fireplace, with a nice peaty fire still burning.
posted by rtha at 12:17 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Redemption Rye: Very young (bottle says not older then 4 years). But shockingly good. A steal at $25 per bottle.
posted by Mr. X at 12:05 PM on January 27


Redemption's High-Rye Bourbon is also very good and a nice intermediate between a full-on rye and a classic bourbon style. High West's Bourye is in a similarly delicious vein if a bit more upmarket.
posted by zingiberene at 12:21 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Laphroaig Quarter Cask is absolutely worth the extra dough, yes. If you find yourself north of the border, they do stock it in the NH liquor stores, which will be cheaper, for certain.

Clynelish is my all-around favorite whisky for its price-point (and probably in my top five in general); it's not as smoky as the Islays, of course, but I urge you to keep it in mind when the shoots start poking their way out of the ground again! It's got a lovely oceanic undertone.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:27 PM on January 27, 2012


Buffalo Trace. Great and inexpensive.
posted by kookywon at 12:29 PM on January 27, 2012


HOW HAS NO ONE MENTIONED TALISKER YET

Oh god yes. I'm working on one right now. Personally, I like it even more than the lighter Islays.

Jura was recommended above to avoid -- I've only had good experiences with it. A very full Scotch, little peppery. Highland Park was described as 'generic' -- I'd say it's the best-balanced single malt out there. And man, is it ever smooth.

But yes -- Talisker. Yes yes yes.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:30 PM on January 27, 2012


Also, Highland Park is the whisky Craig Ferguson recommends, which coming from a recovering alcoholic Scot is either a mark for or mark against, depending.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:32 PM on January 27, 2012


If you can find it and want to expand your rye whiskey horizons, get some Thomas J. Handy Sazerac Cask Strength. It's brilliant; honestly it blows away every other rye I've ever had.

I've had to special order it, so you may want to try a drink at a well-stocked local bar before you plunk down $75 (seems to be about the going price for a fifth of it).

Since it's around 130 proof, do cut it with a bit of spring water before drinking, if you want to taste it. Otherwise, the alcohol content will just numb your palate (IMO).
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:39 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, also: The Port Charlotte PC5 (made by Bruichladdich, and mentioned a number of times by me) is maybe my favorite scotch I've ever had, and the PC6 is almost as good. I ain't tried the further numbers, but if you want to grab them before they're gone, the PC8 and the PC9 are still easy to get. About a hundred bucks a bottle, though bear in mind this is literally the only chance you have to try them. The PC5, which I got for about a hundred, is now going for well over a thousand.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:39 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Talisker 18 in particular. I'm also a big fan of GlenDronach 15 (or 31 when someone else is paying).

There are an amazing number of great ryes out there at the moment, a few (Whistle Pig, Templeton) have already been mentioned. Michter's is another good one.

Bourbon-wise, I don't think I've ever had a bad thing from Black Maple Hill.

BTW, if you have a friend that loves Crown Royal, you should fix that by giving him/her Forty Creek instead. Better and cheaper.
posted by mzanatta at 12:39 PM on January 27, 2012


Mmm, Talisker is... ok, but nowhere near the kind of peatiness of the main Islay malts.

@smitt Sorry about the comparison, but you have to agree, these malts are more for those uneducated in whiskey. They're the kind of drams I would give to friends who just want to try Scotch. I keep the good stuff for myself ;)

Also, Woodfords Reserve is the best bourbon for an Old Fashioned. I'm open to other suggestions though.
posted by Scottie_Bob at 12:40 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


...giving him/her Forty Creek instead. Better and cheaper.

Absolutely. The pride of Grimsby, it is. Not that Grimsby has much to be proud of, but it does have Forty Creek, which, thankfully, has little to do with Forty Mile Creek, other than the name.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:45 PM on January 27, 2012


@Scottie_Bob - Yeah, I agree. It's the one scotch I'll drink when I don't want to waste the good stuff. Though at my pace of drinking, I might be more accurately called a scotch collector rather than a scotch drinker!
posted by smitt at 12:46 PM on January 27, 2012


Lion's Pride. We are especially fond of the dark oat. It's good sipping whiskey as well as excellent in your more classic cocktails.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:48 PM on January 27, 2012


Oh, you know, if you like Glenmorangie: someone in some mefi whisky thread recently mentioned the Amrut Fusion, and I got a bottle. It reminded me quite a bit of Glenmorangie -- which is to say, not quite my thing, a certain perfumeyness that I don't really dig. BUT! Jim Murray's Whisky Bible named it the third-best whisky in the world for 2010, so it clearly has its fans. You might consider it if you want to add an Indian Scotch to your cabinet!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:53 PM on January 27, 2012


One more to add to the scotch list: Old Pulteney 17.
posted by mzanatta at 12:54 PM on January 27, 2012


God - totally forgot Japanese whiskys! Nikka is great stuff - anyone know if you can get that in the US? I haven't seen it, though you can get some of the better Suntory stuff so maybe we'll see more from Japan soon?
posted by mzanatta at 12:58 PM on January 27, 2012


Laphroaig Quarter Cask very much yes. Triple Wood a bit less yes but still very good.
posted by true at 12:58 PM on January 27, 2012


My local whiskey guy turned me on to this blended French(!?) whisky, which isn't at all like what I tend to like, but I liked it a lot.
posted by gauche at 12:59 PM on January 27, 2012


Look for the Signatory bottling (10 or 11 years old, un-chillfiltered) of Caol Ila - it's head & shoulders above the distillery bottling. A 15 year old Signatory bottling of Caol Ila (sadly no longer available) may be my favorite whisky ever.

Since you're in the Boston area, try Atlas Liquors in Medford (I think there's a store on the south shore as well). Not as big a selection as Martignetti's or Marty's, but generally better prices.
posted by mr vino at 1:31 PM on January 27, 2012


Nthing the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. My brother got me a bottle for Christmas and it is amazing.

If you're looking some something heavy on the peat, Ardbeg Uigeadail is damn fine. It's a bit pricey, but well worth it.

Amrut (the 'regular' not the 'fusion') is surprisingly good. I was thinking, before I tried it, "What do the Indians know about making good whisky?" Apparently, they know a fair bit since they've been drinking Scotch for a while as their middle-class grows.

Finally, if you're into rye, I will suggest Alberta Premium. It's sometimes thought of as a bit of a lowbrow rye, but it's one of the few ryes that is actually 100% rye, which I find gives it a different character than a lot of other ryes/Canadian whiskies.
posted by asnider at 1:33 PM on January 27, 2012


Seems like the Islays have been covered pretty well.

I recommend Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, which is a port finish (They put the scotch in a port barrel for part of its aging). It's very tasty.

Also try Clynelish.
posted by Fleebnork at 2:10 PM on January 27, 2012


My favorite Scotch is Talisker; the 10 yr is delicious, and the Distiller's Edition is heaven.
posted by MidsizeBlowfish at 3:01 PM on January 27, 2012


Not mentioned yet, and not a technically a whiskey, but a definite must: Rum.

Seriously. I know most people associate it with namby pamby sweet cocktails, but a serious, award winning rum--like Guatemala's Ron Zacapa Centanario, or Nicaragua's Flor de Cana--is a delightfully smooth, sophisticated liquor that lends itself to sipping neat at room temperature. These are high-quality products that are aged up to 18 or 25 years and considered to be serious quaffs for mature drinkers.

It's also a full-bodied summer cocktail drink, too. By cocktail, I'm not referring to Pina Coladas or any other dreadful, diabetes-inducing concoction. I'm thinking of the old-school rum drinks doctored by people like Don the Beachcomber, who sacrificed hours and healthy livers to creating the perfect blend of juices and rums. There's nothing better than a perfect Mai Tai.

Fall back on your ryes, scotches, Irish and Japanese whiskeys in the winter, and indulge in a rum cocktail in the summer. A real rum cocktail.

Note the lack of shout-outs to vodka in the above lists. You aren't going to find any vodkas in these comments, and if you do, I'll bow my head in shame.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:11 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love love love Highland Park in cocktails, where its lack of edge is a feature rather than a bug. As an on-its-own whisky, it doesn't really stand up.

Let me recommend a trip to Saloon in Davis Square, where they pour 100+ whisk(e)ys, so you can test drive things by the glass. The bartenders all seem quite knowledgeable, even by my endlessly beanplating standards.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:18 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am very much a fan of the Islays and typically have 3 or 4 in the house. I picked up a bottle of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask before xmas and have thoroughly enjoyed it, a splash of water (its 48% IiRC) and its very easy drinking.

I would disagree on the Ardbeg's, the basic 10 is a fantastic drink, often very generously priced and with a cleanliness and distinctiveness of taste which I find very appealing. The Ardbeg Uigedahl came top in one of the best whisky in the world competitions 3-4 years ago and I got a bottle on the strength of that result, I find it pretty unplesant, the bottle langushies at the back of the cupboard and was very much not at the cheap end of the
market. If you look up tating notes for it then there is division as to its worthiness.

Staying with Islay, the Bruichladdich comes in so many permutations that you have to pay a lot of attention to what it is you're buying. They seem to have been taken over by marketeers to some extent and have all sorts of categories of expressions and few of these are peat heavy - their basic brand is floral rather than peated and their specialist stuff does not generally go towards peat either, with the exception of the Octomore and maybe one or two others. I have found the expressions I have tried very tasty but they would not seem to many drinkers to be typical of the island. The First Growth range for example I would describe as the ideal whiskies for a brandy drinker, but this might nor fit the bill in terms of what you want.

If you are into heavy peat then there was a bit of a peat war a few years ago in which some distilleries essentially competitively marketed whiskies with as much peat as possible. The Bruichladdich Octomore was one of the combatants, Ardbeg entered the fray with Supernova and Alligator. The blind tasting on this page suggests the Supernova kicks the arse of the others, so that might be worth a try if you want to try some serious peat.

I love love love Highland Park in cocktails

You mean... with water?
posted by biffa at 3:26 PM on January 27, 2012


Here is a cocktail that is fantastic with Highland Park:

Pomegranate Whisk(e)y Sour

2 ounces whisk(e)y
1 ounce lemon juice/juice of 1/2 regular lemon or 1 Meyer lemon
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 ounce simple syrup

Your mouth will thank me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:12 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


For all "I like this variety of whisky, but which other ones will I like?" questions, you need to look at the crazy awesome Scotch charts ryanrs compiled about a year ago for an SF MeFi meetup.

Google doc 1, 2.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:42 PM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


deludingmyself, those are some ridiculous and amazing charts. Thank you.
posted by gauche at 5:32 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


We are doing a gin-tasting meetup tomorrow in SF - see IRL for spreadsheet link! So for future gin questions, keep that in mind!
posted by rtha at 5:45 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to say what biffa did about Bruichladdich -- they are the last independent distillery on Islay and make an enormous variety of strengths and casks and bottlings. There's no one whiskey from them. The Octomore really is something else, but their Organic is probably my favorite.

I've enjoyed working our way through the various special bottlings of other Islays. There's a sherry-casked Bowmore that I quite like at the moment. So, yes, worth it to try them, especially if they're variations on something you know you like.

If you live near a Trader Joe's, their Finlaggan scotch is a mystery Islay at an unbeatable $18/bottle price point.

Bourbons: I like Bulleit, Bookers, Four Roses, and Noah's Mill. High West Rye.

If you ever decide to go to Islay, let us know!
posted by gingerbeer at 7:19 PM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


You mention them but not trying them--Japanese Single Malts are trendy right now, check out Suntory's Yamazaki label. Gets super good reviews. Pricey though. In that approach too, there's the Welsh Penderyn, which to my mind has a more honeyed caramel-y flavor than my favorite Scotches.

Since you like Lagavulin in general, should mention Lagavulin Distiller's Edition is getting a lot of praise lately. I looked at it longingly over the holidays, ha.

Caol Ila is one of my favorite Scotches and we seem to have similar peat-lovin' taste. For the price, Highland Park is a really good value too as these things go.

According to this, which is similar but has some non-overlap (Auchentoshan!) with your map, nothing (that this person is familiar with) is smokier than Ardbeg, alas.

You don't mention Tennessee Whiskey. Now, maybe that's for good reason--I hated the stuff and wrongly thought as a young'un I hated all whiskey because it was my introduction--until I tried George Dickel 12. Might want to give it a go sometime.

Also, I didn't see Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond on your list. For the price, it is an amazing value for a cocktail mixer--I've used trendier and pricier (Bulleit's Rye comes to mind, but there have been lots) and for mixing I swear nothing beats it. I'm not alone in my love either; it is the go-to brand for lots of folks over at Chowhound, in The PDT Cocktail Book, KindredCocktails.com, etc. I just hope it doesn't become TOO well known a best-kept secret and go the way of Plymouth gin (once an awesome deal, now climbing in price due to popularity, argh).

Speaking of cocktails, it doesn't sound like you're into mixing (esp. not with precious stuff that deserves to be savored like these Scotches), but if you ever get the mixing bug that's a lot of fun too, finding the cheap ass Scotches that work well in cocktails and don't overpower. You'd be pleasantly surprised to find stuff people wrinkle their noses at normally--Teacher's is my favorite blended example--works remarkably well in cocktails.
posted by ifjuly at 6:52 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I know bourbon didn't focus much in your list, but Elijah Craig 12 is a fantastic value. It's cheap enough you can make cocktails with it without trepidation but it's good enough, a whole price bracket better than where it actually is, so it bumps your cocktails up to the next level. Awesome. Makes delicious Manhattans, Old Fashioneds (though I like them better with rye), and their many variants.

And there are lots of specialty aged bourbons now that are hard to get your hands on but almost as fun as Scotch. George T. Stagg, all the Van Winkle specialty ones, Old Potrero Single Malt from Anchor, etc.
posted by ifjuly at 6:55 AM on January 28, 2012


Oh, and Eagle Rare, how could I forget.

In a similar vein as Elijah Craig, Wathen's bourbon is a really good value for mixing that makes your cocktails taste way bumped up posh-wise.

As for similar to yuppie-cacheted Maker's and Knob Creek but I'd argue better, Basil Hayden and Blanton's bourbons are good when you've got money to burn and want to show it off in your on the rocks drinks.
posted by ifjuly at 6:58 AM on January 28, 2012


I love whoever upthread gave a shoutout to Talisker as an all-around good all-purpose Scotch, and who also mentioned the Compass Box Peat Monster blend. Excellent stuff, not what you normally think of when you think of blends--it's just like blended table red wines, most are crap used to hide inferior varietals, but some are doing all the right things and beautifully blending things to complement, synthesize. They have another blend too, not as famous as the Peat Monster one, but also good for cocktails.
posted by ifjuly at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2012


I assumed when you mentioned Lagavulin you meant the 16 year Distiller's Choice, if not then that is the only bottle you need to consider - deliciously complex, embodying everything good about the Islays without being challenged by any of them. It's the only bottle I always have in the house.

Talisker is fine but its the kipper over the head of single malts, no subtlety but plenty to get your teeth into.

While I disagree with kcm on the Ardbeg, he is spot on with the HP 18, I am not a fan but it as far from generic scotch as it is possible to get - seaweed and salt and a true original.
posted by biffa at 3:42 PM on January 28, 2012


I'll put my vote in for both Arbeg (for a good smoky one) and Bowmore (for a medium level of peat-iness). You might also like to consider trying a beer that's been brewed in whisky cask, such as Paradox. I tried this the other day in their new pub in Camden and it was delicious. I'm not sure if BrewDog is available in the States, but I'm sure there are similar styles to be found in a good shop, if you're in the mood for something new.
posted by Concordia at 12:01 PM on January 29, 2012


If you're into peaty Islays, Jura's Prophecy is right up your alley (yes, the website is a bit silly looking).

Looking for something different? See if you can find Amrut Fusion, a very enjoyable Indian single-malt.

Seconding Suntory's Yamazaki label, and I'm not alone in this opinion.

Check out Richard Paterson's Youtube channel for some succinct reviews of various kinds of whisky
posted by lemuring at 12:00 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do not try any other Amrut. Indian whiskey is hilarious at best and the Fusion is the only one worth the money - except for their descriptions. I'm not sure where they find their copywriters.

As far as Suntory goes, the Yamazaki is all well and good, but give the newer Hakushu a try. It's incredible. Japanese whiskey is designed for ice and water and this is no different, though I'd try it both ways. The nose and the taste and much different, and I enjoyed it for the style.
posted by kcm at 10:06 PM on January 30, 2012


BTW. despite the opinions of two esteemed fellow Mefites above, the Yamazaki Single Malt 12 year is an abomination. Seriously. We forced people to take a sip, to "be in the club". Dozens of scotch lovers have agreed that it tastes more like the distillation of a tuna cannery's waste products, than something meant to be consumed.

Seriously. Maybe it varies wildly in batches. Awful.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:27 PM on January 31, 2012


Hmm, interesting. I only ever hear good things about the older and way more expensive and rare Yamazakis.
posted by ifjuly at 5:47 PM on January 31, 2012


Huh, I really like the Yamazaki 12. The 18 was pretty fantastic too. (It's not easy to find around here - there's one coffee shop that carries the 12, otherwise I haven't seen it at all.)
posted by restless_nomad at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2012


Sounds like we got a completely atrocious off-bottle of Yamazaki, then. My roommate (who bought it) and I are no lightweights to flavor: kimchi, pickled lemons, and two kinds of preserved fish are fermenting in my kitchen as I write this.

But this bottle was horrid.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:02 AM on February 1, 2012


I am in the pro-Yamazaki 12 camp, not my favourite drink but perfectly serviceable and a fine middle of the road drink, fairly accessible in that it doesn't have any major aspects thatr might be offputting.
posted by biffa at 1:41 AM on February 7, 2012


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