ScotchFilter: recommend a gift scotch?
January 31, 2019 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Please help with selecting a bottle of scotch for a friend- I'm happy to spend up to the $100 range. Friend is an experienced scotch drinker who likes the smoky peaty thing. This is what's available in my state stores. Thanks for all suggestions!
posted by tangaroo to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Highland Park is one of my favourites.
posted by terrapin at 7:43 AM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lagavulin 16yo is a classic in the smoky, peaty style: your friend will probably already know & love it.
posted by misteraitch at 7:47 AM on January 31, 2019 [16 favorites]

The Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or has their highest rating, is 12 years old and is within your budget. I haven't tried it but it looks fascinating.
posted by ubiquity at 7:51 AM on January 31, 2019

It's been a while since I've had it, but I distinctly remember the Laphroaig to be SUPER smokey, and it was a favorite of a friend of mine who was into scotch of that flavor profile.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:55 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Nectar d'Or is delicious and not peaty--it's a Highland malt.
posted by crush at 7:55 AM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Laphroaig is the famous peat-monster, but the basic Talisker 10yo is my all-time favorite single malt (found the Talisker Distiller's Edition a little too sweet for me, but it is a little more polished).
posted by Bron at 7:56 AM on January 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

Oops--failed on the link thing: Nectar d'Or at Masters of Malt
posted by crush at 7:57 AM on January 31, 2019

The Talisker Storm is nicely peated at the front and really buttery and complex at the back. Bought it for Spouse at Christmas and he's enjoying it. He really goes for the smoky Scotches.

Masters of Malt calls it :probably the smokiest whiskey from the Isle of Skye"
posted by crush at 8:01 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

For smoke and peat, you'll want an Islay malt. From the lovely selection at your state store, I would pick a special bottling from Ardbeg - the Corryvrekan, or the An Oa - or the Lagavulin 16. All are in regular rotation in my house, and are delicious.

And yeah, the Nector d-Or - or anything that's been finished in sherry casks or the like - will be sweet, not smoky or peaty. Wonderful, but sweet.
posted by minervous at 8:01 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

My favourite this year has been Laphroaig Quarter Cask. It's one of the smokiest Islay malts.
posted by pipeski at 8:21 AM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

I agree that Laphroaig is a definite option for you.
posted by jgirl at 8:22 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

On that list, my favorite (other than Laphroaig, esp. the Caireas, about which MAKE SURE THEY LIKE ISLAY A LOT) is probably the Balvenie Doublewood.

Lagavulin is also a fine choice; it's sometimes thought of as Laphroaig's more refined bother.
posted by uberchet at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2019

As someone who really likes peaty, oily scotch, I'd suggest the Ardbeg Uigeadail. It's in your price range, and it's a great scotch.

...I may need another bottle.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 8:38 AM on January 31, 2019 [8 favorites]

Thirding Lagavulin, which I love and find more nuanced and balanced than Laphroaig, although I’ve never had the Quarter Cask or the Nectar d’Or.... yet. Yum. I’m thirsty.

If your friend is already an experienced Islay malt drinker they know Laphroaig. If not it is the reference point for the style.

There isn’t a bad choice to be made here.
posted by spitbull at 8:40 AM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

I pulled out my copy of Michael Jackson's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, which contains the following description of Lagavulin 16 year old that should be a selling point, gift-wise:

FINISH: Peat fire. Warming. A bear hug.

I have received a bottle of this in the past as a gift - chances are slim of going wrong with it as it's fantastic and the perfect thing in the dead of winter.

As others have said, Laphroaig and Ardbeg will definitely be in the wheelhouse of most peat lovers, but the Lagavulin would be your safest bet, IMHO.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:50 AM on January 31, 2019

Lagavulin 16, or Distiller's Reserve. Tastes like a hospital ship going down in a storm.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:45 AM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

Laphroaig 10 and Quarter Cask are like drinking an on-fire hospital, and I LOVE it. Any Ardbeg will be nice, I think I liked the Corryvreckan a bit more than the Uigeadail, but both are great, and I wouldn't scoff at the 10 either. Lagavulin I find more restrained and gentler than the others I've mentioned but still plenty smokey/peaty. It's Ron Swanson's favourite, for what it's worth.

If your friend is a peat head though, chances are they've already tried/own a lot of the above. Smoky peaty scotches are my thing, but I love having a bottle of Talisker (10, Dark Storm, Storm, all good) or the Balvenie Carribbean Cask on hand. This is because not all my guests will love a peat-bomb the way I do, and I want to be able to offer them something gentler that I'd also happily drink myself. I love the sweet salty smoke of the Talisker, and the Carribbean Cask is lighter but still interesting... like a tissue weight cashmere sweater.

Basically you can't go wrong with any of the suggestions so far on this thread! Is it drink o'clock yet??
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 10:07 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Can't go wrong with the Lagavulin 16 or Talisker 10, but they're... not particularly creative. I personally like the Laphroaig Quarter cask but some consider it unrefined.
posted by porpoise at 10:08 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'd go with the Ardbeg or Lagavulin. Laphroaig is greatly loved by some, thoroughly hated by others, with very few in between. If you don't know for sure that your giftee likes the stuff, don't go for Laphroaig.

Bowmore (sounds like "B'moo-er") is another nice Islay scotch; been a while since I was a scotch-drinker, but I recall it being on the restrained side.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:21 AM on January 31, 2019

Tastes like a hospital ship going down in a storm.

So, that's equally absurd and accurate. Not only is there a very strong iodine note and a waft of saline spray, but cresols that commonly result in notes of Band-Aids.

Islay whiskies aren't the only peaty, smoky whiskies, but peaty, smoky whisky that didn't come from Islay is uncommon. Talisker (from the Isle of Skye) also gets a lot of those notes but to me has more iodine and less smoke (although I still haven't had the Storm). I love Highland Park (from Orkney) but I wouldn't describe it as very smoky (there's smoke, but it's balanced against sweetness and fruit). Good news, though: you're not just limited to Laphroig and Lagavulin with the occasional Ardbeg thrown in. The PLCB doesn't carry any of their full ranges but you can get (a single, each) Bowmore, Bruichladdich, or Bunnahabhain, according to this search for "islay" in the master list. If you're willing to smuggle from NY, Maryland, or DC, though, your options will be much improved (like, say, the Bowmore 15 or Bruichladdich Octomore). Not that I'd encourage you to break the law.
posted by fedward at 11:54 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Another vote for Ardbeg--I don't get the opportunity to drink the stuff often enough to recommend a particular bottling, but the few times I've had it I've been (happily) blown away.
posted by karayel at 12:14 PM on January 31, 2019

There's some good shouts in here already but one that hasn't been mentioned is Caol Ila - the 18yo is maybe my favourite whisky ever; it's in the same wheelhouse as Talisker, which is to say lots of peat and smoke, but also quite rich, fruity and slightly sweet rather than medicinal. I don't know what US prices are like but it's about £75-80 a bottle here, so may be a bit out of your budget after import taxes.
posted by parm at 12:48 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lagavulin. There are lots of delicious whiskeys there but for a gift, you go with the name that you *know* they'll like.

If you're feeling confident, you can get them one of the weirder bottlings from Laphroig or Ardbeg; as a scotch drinker myself I rarely spring for the special releases so that would be a nice bit of variety for them.
posted by dbx at 1:01 PM on January 31, 2019

Another vote for the Ardbeg Uigeadail as a gift. It fits the flavor profile, and is uncommon enough that the giftee may have never had a bottle, unlike the more common suggestions. It's really, really tasty.
posted by smokysunday at 1:27 PM on January 31, 2019

nthing Ardbeg, probably the Corryvreckan. Laguvulin 16 is probably the reference Islay for Americans thanks to its wide distribution, and Laphroaig Quarter Cask is really decent at that price* but Ardbeg has been doing very interesting things ever since it was unshuttered. (And so has Bruichladdich, but it's not available to you.)

* The single malt bubble means there are more young whiskies and non-age-statement releases on the market to meet demand and price points: for instance, Laphroaig 8 wasn't a thing years ago.
posted by holgate at 2:50 PM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

My Scotch-drinking crew recently gave the Glenfiddich Fire and Cane a try. Glenfiddich doesn't usually do peated whiskys but they've got an experimental series and this one is the peated version finished in rum barrels. Both smokey and sweet. We liked it.
posted by Preserver at 8:44 PM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Caol Ila, through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board stores (private stores are heavily regulated and rare) is $USD700, and no I didn't mistype and add an extra zero there.
posted by Wilbefort at 12:45 PM on February 1, 2019

Came to recommend Caol Ila, but apparently they only have the 30 year in PA?

Caol Ila 12 should be in the $70 range and even the 18 should be under $100.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:38 PM on February 1, 2019

A friend recently got me a bottle of Ardbeg 10 Year for my birthday. I really dig the marine smoky peaty thing, and man does it hit the spot. Just measuring out a small amount to sip on is a delight. Love it, love it, love it.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:07 PM on February 3, 2019

Thanks for all the info and narrowing down the options! I appreciate everyone who took the time to answer, and also appreciate the enthusiasm :)
posted by tangaroo at 6:28 PM on February 18, 2019

« Older Where can I find people who need an Apple IT...   |   Your best chicken wings , pre-made OR recipes. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.