Looking for a whisky treat
May 10, 2013 7:02 AM   Subscribe

As I've mentioned before, I do so love the whisky. Can you recommend some true special occasion bottles? As a framework, let's say bottles $100 and up that are worth every penny.

As mentioned in the prior thread, I drink and enjoy every style of whisky, so anything goes here. Winter favorites tend to be Islays, typically the standard bottles of Laphroaig and Lagavulin. We always have Oban in the house. Aberlour's A'bunadh was a particular favorite last year. We typically have four or five bottles of good whisky open at a time, plus an assortments of cheaper bourbons, ryes, etc.

I'm very happy with the bottles I drink, which typically run in the $40-$70 range. What I'm looking for is a truly spectacular bottle from the next tier of bottle to reserve for those "got a bonus," "think we're pregnant," "closed on the house" kind of days. I'm somewhat indifferent to price, provided that the bottle's worth it. All the same, I'm unlikely to be able to afford the Glenmorangie 29 year, or the Macallan 25 year sherry oak, but a boy can dream.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Each sip is like being punched in the mouth. It's fantastic. About $100.
posted by deadweightloss at 7:12 AM on May 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

I haven't seen it for a while (I guess it's gotten more expensive, while my wallet hasn't gotten any thicker) but Royal Lochnagar is what I'd look for. Decades ago, they served it in United's First Class, but if you knew about it, they'd sneak you a glass or three even in Business.
posted by spacewrench at 7:14 AM on May 10, 2013

Any of the Nikka whiskeys, particularly the Pure Malt White, which is a blend with some unspecified Scotch that's rumoured to be Caol Ilha. Lovely balanced stuff with distinct characters, they're $70/bottle up here, the but the bottle is shrunk to a half litre from 3/4 to keep the apparent price down.
posted by fatbird at 7:16 AM on May 10, 2013

My first (and only) taste of Balvenie Portwood was revelatory.
posted by knile at 7:25 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are fond of bourbon, you really cannot go wrong with Pappy Van Winkle 20 year or 23 year. Now, finding them is another matter...
posted by like_a_friend at 7:28 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Craighellighie (geez, how do you spell that?) -- sounds like "cra-kael-i-kee" but it's spelled like a Croatian car-crash. Fantastic scotch!!
posted by acm at 7:29 AM on May 10, 2013

I picked up a wonderful bottle from Glengoyne that is finished in virgin Scottish oak. Mine was £40 from the distillery but if you can find it I rather liked it.
posted by koolkat at 7:31 AM on May 10, 2013

I've been exceptionally pleased with Macallan Fine Oak 18 and Highland Park 18. The Macallan is just spectacular; the Highland Park is, for me, the perfect balance of peat and sweet.
posted by The Michael The at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2013

As someone who also likes Laphroig and Aberlour A'bunadh, I'd recommend trying the Ardbeg Supernova. I had some in a pub with a group of friends once and the entire table just sat there for a while saying different variations of "Wow, what just happened in my mouth?". Very full-on, very peaty, lots of different flavours going on one after the other.
posted by gnimmel at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2013

Have you considered getting a small barrel and aging something up? It may not be authentic, but it'll be your own. This company sells barrels as small as 1L. Get a couple and season some with wine first, perhaps.

You could get a white whiskey/grain moonshine and start there as well. I've had outstanding whiskies that were as young as 5 months.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:20 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Bowmore 25 is very very good, we got one for New Year's Eve 2000 and it was well worth it.

Likewise with the Macallan 18 is great.

I have had 2 excellent bottles of Johnny Walker Blue but then my father-in-law bought one and it was just "meh", which was odd (i still recommend it, but taste before you buy if possible).
posted by Vindaloo at 8:35 AM on May 10, 2013

Sunburnt why oh why didn't I get shown that link about 10 years ago. I've been aging my own whiskey in a mason jar simulating the barrel using wooden slats that I toasted to medium++ and it has been aging since 2003 so when I go home it will be 10 years old. If I had access to a barrel I would have certainly sunk the time and money into getting a 10L barrel and having 10L instead of my single 1L jar.
posted by koolkat at 8:39 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think I said this in your last thread too, but: Lagavulin Distiller's Edition. The 1991 bottling, if you can find it, is the best I've tasted — the flavor varies a fair amount from one to the next. It's not all that much like the usual Lagavulin 16 in flavor; much mellower and woodier, and more "marine" in flavor than full-on peat and iodine. I've also had some very good Distiller's Edition bottles from Talisker, and I'd bet that these bottlings from the other Islay usual suspects are also well worth trying, though you might want to look at tasting notes from the specific batch before splurging.
posted by RogerB at 8:54 AM on May 10, 2013

Assuming that you like American whiskey as well: George T. Stagg or Pappy van Winkle 20 or 23 year bourbon, Colonel Taylor or Sazerac 18 year rye. All of these except the Colonel Taylor are insanely difficult to find.
posted by jackbishop at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Balvenie Portwood for around $150 a bottle is great. You don't have to spend that much to try it out either: you can can get one of these sample packs for around $20. The Portwood has been one of the three recently.
posted by spaltavian at 9:08 AM on May 10, 2013

Royal Lochnagar

I'm a liquor enthusiast, not a connoisseur, but I can say that I have a bottle of this stuff and it is really quite good.
posted by dubold at 9:47 AM on May 10, 2013

Bruichladdich is the Islay distiller that produces lots of smaller bottlings, including their Octomore, which is THE peatiest, smokiest scotch ever. Their Organic scotch is still one of my favorites ever. Their smaller bottlings are harder to find in the States, but worth trying to track down, especially if you like the Islays and want to try different variations. If I were dropping a bunch of money on a fancy bottle of Islay, that's where I'd go.

And have, if you look at our scotch collection...
posted by gingerbeer at 9:59 AM on May 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

As a Scotsman with 20 years of dramming under my belt I can highly recommend The Glendronach Old Revival 15 for your $100. The best dram I and many other Whisky lovers here had last year by a long way. Watch out for this distillery's output in the future, they're making great things again.
posted by Callicvol at 10:11 AM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Several people have already said what I was going to suggest: Ardbeg varieties like Corryvreckan, Supernova, and Uigeadail (and if they ever do another Airigh nam Beist or you can find that anywhere, OH MY GOD). Octomore is great too, as is the Lagavulin Distiller's Edition. And if you really want to treat yourself, I second the recommendation of Bowmore 25. It is exquisite.
posted by bedhead at 10:17 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Reading these recommendations and looking them up online is really starting to convince me that Friday afternoons are very special occasions.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:24 AM on May 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Since your profile says you are in Boston, I am obligated to tell you about the whisky cruise that is happening next Saturday. OR just go to Julio's in Westborough because they have SO MANY good things.
posted by bedhead at 10:31 AM on May 10, 2013

Admiral Haddock: "Reading these recommendations and looking them up online is really starting to convince me that Friday afternoons are very special occasions."

Pretty much, yes. I've been going through this list and am starting to drool. In more helpful (maybe) spirits, that list has some lovely Islays on it, although I'm sad that one can't sort scotches by region. Here is maybe a better search limited to Islays.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:36 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My local wine shop turned me on to the Ardbeg a few years ago, and I find I cannot have enough of it. Deadweightloss's recommendation of the Corryvreckan is a particularly good one, as it's an unfiltered whiskey and brings far more aroma and flavor than traditional filtered whiskeys.

If I had my druthers, I'd be drinking that stuff every weekend.

EDIT: Sorry it's the Uigeadail that's unfiltered, not the Corryvreckan.
posted by endotoxin at 11:21 AM on May 10, 2013

Since your profile says you are in Boston, I am obligated to tell you about the whisky cruise that is happening next Saturday. OR just go to Julio's in Westborough because they have SO MANY good things.
Also go to Federal Wine & Spirits near Faneuil Hall. Joe, their whisky specialist, has never led me wrong.

Hand in hand with the Lagavulin Distiller's Edition there's also the Laphraoig Triple Wood, which has the same approach of finishing in sherry casks to balance the peat with a nice sweetness. It's a good alternative if you find stuff like Ardbeg Supernova overpowering
posted by bl1nk at 11:30 AM on May 10, 2013

I came to say Bruichladdich, so I'll second that.
posted by grapesaresour at 12:06 PM on May 10, 2013

Seconding the Glendronach. I had a dram the other night of the 12 year old and it blew me away. And I love Islay whiskies (so I would say the 21 year old Lagavulin would be my choice for your really special malt). But that Glendronach was something else. This will be my next expensive bottle, probably a 15 yo expression.
posted by salishsea at 3:41 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also...we should have a quarterly AskMe whisky (WhiskMe?) thread I think with exactly this kind of question...Tastes change and in about three months I'll be due for another bottle to add, and more to share, and of course I can go through old posts, but how much fun is this, keeping up with what's what?

posted by salishsea at 3:50 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

As others have mentioned, Pappy Van Winkle is fabulous if you can find it. I've had bottles of the 20 and 23 year but bang for the buck I prefer the 20.

I bought one bottle of Willet Family Reserve 25 yr. for my wedding and it was absolutely fabulous.

I believe it's more readily available than the Pappy's and I can't recommend it enough.
posted by alamedarchy at 4:24 PM on May 10, 2013

Thirding Bruichladdich. Every bottle I've tasted has been completely memorable. A bottle of their Blacker Still is maybe a price tier above what you're looking for, but it would be all I would drink if I could afford it. Sherry cask with a smokey caramelized sugar. Never tasted anything close.
posted by Ookseer at 9:17 PM on May 10, 2013

Try Midleton Very Rare, a magnificent Irish whiskey that costs anywhere from $100 - $170 a bottle. It's currently my favorite whiskey in the world. Eminently drinkable in the finest Irish tradition. In other words, buy this understanding it's an Irish, not a single-malt Scotch, and you will be very, very happy.

Here are some enthusiastic reviews:

Midleton Reviewed at For Peat's Sake

Midleton reviewed at Whiskey Reviewer

Midleton at Amazon.com

Do yourself a favor and buy this whiskey!
posted by diabolik at 6:15 PM on May 11, 2013

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