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Whiskey, Whisky, Scotch


keefer
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A million years ago, in a previous life, when I was just 18, I wrote some software for a friends dad.   To say thank you he bought me a few bottles of Jim Beam; and as 18 year-olds do, we made a considerable dent in the stash the following weekend.   That was quickly followed by over 50 years abstaining from anything which even remotely tasted like whiskey, or scotch (or tequila, but that's a different story involving an old beetle, Tijuana, and learning to drive stick)...

Fast forward to last December, and after a few weeks' thinking one very cold evening, log fire, watching an old movie, something prompted me to open a dusty old bottle of Nikka.  Either I've mellowed with age, or, against the odds, grew up...  but it was perfect.    And since December I've worked through two of the small bottles of Nikka from the barrel (square bottles), and now working through Nikka Days...    and realise I  actually like blended whiskeys...

Given I've wasted the past 50 years on Vodka tonic, I have little experience other than Nikka; and am wondering if anyone has affordable recommendations that won't accidentally put me off whiskey for another 50 years...

I should add that I live in London and visit Edinburgh periodically, so both Irish and Scotch whiskeys are quite available...

help? 

Edited by keefer
London/Edinburgh
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7 minutes ago, dentjusay said:

Lagavulin to the moon

Absolutely.  16-year Lagavulin is hard to beat from my perspective. But Laphroig can be pretty good and is at a lower price-point. Both are nice and smokey-peaty, and that isn't to everyone's taste.

@keefer, why not do a Scotch tour along the Whiskey Trail, since you're in the UK?  You can do a tour of Speyside distilleries and compare those to the Highland malts, and the peaty malts of Islay.  

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9 minutes ago, CuriousByNature said:

 

why not do a Scotch tour along the Whiskey Trail, since you're in the UK?  You can do a tour of Speyside distilleries and compare those to the Highland malts, and the peaty malts of Islay.  

That's actually a really good idea... I was planning a week in Edinburgh and Leith at end of the summer, and driving further north would actually be quite a treat - great idea!

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In Canada, we have to wrestle with the two spellings of whisky and whiskey. They refer to domestically produced rye whiskies that are consumed both here and exported and imported brands. I think I recall Irish whisky is spelled that way. Bourbon whiskey the other way. It's been so long I forget which way Scotch whiskey is spelled but I think the opposite to Irish whisky.

I used to drink Scotch whiskey in my youth but now prefer the rye Canadian whisky, a blended whisky in my case. Someone mentioned Laphroig, which is what I recall James Bond preferred (at least in fiction).

Interestingly, one brand of Canadian whisky, when exported to the US, has labels spelled whiskey, for exactly the same product. Just not to confuse the folks. at home.

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1 hour ago, CuriousByNature said:

Scotch tour along the Whiskey Trail

 

1 hour ago, Luv2play said:

I forget which way Scotch whiskey is spelled but I think the opposite to Irish whisky.

I had copied the first item to comment before seeing the second. The Scotch and Irish versions do indeed use the opposite spellings, Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey, and as you noted, Lov2play, matched by a parallel distinction between the Canadian and American versions. (The recent rush of Australian distilleries produce whisky [and a lot of gins using indigenous aromatics, but that's a separate issue].)

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2 hours ago, Luv2play said:

In Canada, we have to wrestle with the two spellings of whisky and whiskey. They refer to domestically produced rye whiskies that are consumed both here and exported and imported brands. I think I recall Irish whisky is spelled that way. Bourbon whiskey the other way. It's been so long I forget which way Scotch whiskey is spelled but I think the opposite to Irish whisky.

I used to drink Scotch whiskey in my youth but now prefer the rye Canadian whisky, a blended whisky in my case. Someone mentioned Laphroig, which is what I recall James Bond preferred (at least in fiction).

Interestingly, one brand of Canadian whisky, when exported to the US, has labels spelled whiskey, for exactly the same product. Just not to confuse the folks. at home.

Good old Canadian Club? Weisers?

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Whiskey -with the "e"- is generally used for products from the United States or Ireland, whereas whisky -without the "e"- is used in Scotland, Canada, and in some cases, Japan. There is no substantive difference in the product attributable to the difference in spelling.

But there are significant differences between the American whiskeys (as in Bourbon) and the UK whisky (almost always meaning Scotch).

I find American Whiskeys (Bourbons -such as, Maker's Mark, Woodford, Jefferson Reserve, Jim Beam, Old Grand Dad- and Tennessee Whiskeys -such as Jack Daniels and George Dickel), generally sweeter and more intoxicating than the whisky from the other side of the pond.

American whiskeys, to my palate, are more uniform in taste, whereas Scotches have considerable variety, especially between 10 to 12 year bottles vs their older 18 year brothers, and between almost all other Scotches vs the Islay Scotches, most notably Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, all three of which are particularly smoky and peaty. Scotch whisky -again, to my palate- are more astringent, complex, and interesting.

If you're interested in taste testing, find a bar that offers "flights" of whisk(e)ys, usually 3 to 5 per flight, and providing an ounce of each for a price depending generally on the age of the spirit. It's an excellent and reasonably economic way to experience the virtues of each, and best done sober to ensure -well- sober reflection.

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32 minutes ago, wsc said:

Whiskey -with the "e"- is generally used for products from the United States or Ireland, whereas whisky -without the "e"- is used in Scotland, Canada, and in some cases, Japan. There is no substantive difference in the product attributable to the difference in spelling.

But there are significant differences between the American whiskeys (as in Bourbon) and the UK whisky (almost always meaning Scotch).

I find American Whiskeys (Bourbons -such as, Maker's Mark, Woodford, Jefferson Reserve, Jim Beam, Old Grand Dad- and Tennessee Whiskeys -such as Jack Daniels and George Dickel), generally sweeter and more intoxicating than the whisky from the other side of the pond.

American whiskeys, to my palate, are more uniform in taste, whereas Scotches have considerable variety, especially between 10 to 12 year bottles vs their older 18 year brothers, and between almost all other Scotches vs the Islay Scotches, most notably Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, all three of which are particularly smoky and peaty. Scotch whisky -again, to my palate- are more astringent, complex, and interesting.

If you're interested in taste testing, find a bar that offers "flights" of whisk(e)ys, usually 3 to 5 per flight, and providing an ounce of each for a price depending generally on the age of the spirit. It's an excellent and reasonably economic way to experience the virtues of each, and best done sober to ensure -well- sober reflection.

WSC has got it right. I mixed a few up, confusing the Irish and Scotch. I like the Irish Jamieson whiskey. Generally I go for the milder whiskies, not the smokey or peaty ones. And just on the rocks. 

I've been to a whisky tasting and it was served neat. Good way to appreciate the differences in taste.

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I couldn't disagree more with @wsc(who I often feel is spot on on most things), with  regard to uniformity in the taste of Bourbons...totally not my experience. 😜😁 So many differences to enjoy. And, I don't like mine too sweet, either. I also enjoy Scotch, but rarely get it due to preferring Bourbon or Rye ahead of Scotch. 
 

Go to, and generally available is Maker's Mark (all variants) and Woodford Reserve. Blanton's is a nice treat  

I enjoy others immensely, but those are my favorites  

 

Edited by HotWhiteThirties
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6 hours ago, HotWhiteThirties said:

Maker's Mark

I wish I could go back to a time when I enjoyed Maker's Mark...but after accidentally (or unexpectedly, not sure of the right adverb) consuming an entire bottle, along with a few other shots, then going on a drunken hike an hour later without water on hand (yes, a really stupid timing for a bachelor's party), I still find an aversion to the drink a decade later.

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8 hours ago, mike carey said:

(The recent rush of Australian distilleries produce whisky [and a lot of gins using indigenous aromatics, but that's a separate issue].)

On a tangent, on a lifestyle program tonight that features people moving to rural areas, they had one farm that raised sheep and made artisan cheeses. At first they had fed the whey from the process to their sheep but they now much of it to make vodka. Who knew that whey vodka was a thing? And they had won a world vodka competition.

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2 hours ago, JoeMendoza said:

I wish I could go back to a time when I enjoyed Maker's Mark...but after accidentally (or unexpectedly, not sure of the right adverb) consuming an entire bottle, along with a few other shots, then going on a drunken hike an hour later without water on hand (yes, a really stupid timing for a bachelor's party), I still find an aversion to the drink a decade later.

That's a shame! I can't imagine...although I don't really drink much these days anymore. 
 

For some reason - call it a gift or a curse - I have never been able to get myself so drunk that I can't function and blackout, or that I have been extremely sick. It's like my body can't or mentally it won't let me for fear of loss of control. (That's a separate issue. 🤦‍♂️  🤷🏻‍♂️) Not to say I haven't gotten close a couple times. 😜

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17 hours ago, mike carey said:

(The recent rush of Australian distilleries produce whisky [and a lot of gins using indigenous aromatics, but that's a separate issue].)

At first they had fed the whey from the process to their sheep but they now much of it to make vodka.

These are local distilleries and they are very much an Australian thing, I'm sure there are similar things in the US. Don't buy spirits from big companies, find local distilleries and buy their products. I know I'll find such things to take to my friends in the US. [I know, the borders aren't open now!]

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I'm more of a Scotch person than Whiskey.  

On Scotch, I've been dabbling with single-malts lately. 

  • Any Laphroaig is good, I've found some as low as $45 us per litre (10-year or select).  
  • Laphroaig Triple Wood is excellent at $65-70.
  • Talisker Storm is also good @ $45

Here is a review of single malt Scotch under $50:

https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/whiskey/best-scotch-whisky-under-50-values-single-malt/

You will find availability varies widely from liquor store-to-store

 

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2 hours ago, JEC said:

I'm more of a Scotch person than Whiskey.  

On Scotch, I've been dabbling with single-malts lately. 

  • Any Laphroaig is good, I've found some as low as $45 us per litre (10-year or select).  
  • Laphroaig Triple Wood is excellent at $65-70.
  • Talisker Storm is also good @ $45

Here is a review of single malt Scotch under $50:

https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/whiskey/best-scotch-whisky-under-50-values-single-malt/

You will find availability varies widely from liquor store-to-store

 

Laphroaig Quarter Cask is pretty tasty.

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My spouse has been having a small glass of scotch  (with one ice cube) every evening for as long as I have known him (more than a half century). Lately he has been buying Shieldaig, which he says is as good as the more expensive brands. I wouldn't know, since I rarely drink any alcohol other than wine or the occasional gin and tonic.

Many years ago, a friend and I did a driving tour in Scotland, during which we stayed in Grantown-on-Spey, and visited a distillery--I don't remember which one, but there are several in the area which welcome visitors.

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First - THANK YOU, I thought just one or two people might respond, but the quality of suggestions tells me I'm about to have many, many, many, years of pleasure... While adding everyone's suggestions to notes section on my phone - I wondered if any old pubs around mayfair/soho had a decent whiskey/whisky/scotch collection...  to my delight it turns out this drink is quite on-trend here, Timeout even had a reasonably recent article rating some of the best in London, one of them is 30 seconds walk from my office...   I think I know what I'll be doing this summer in preparation for a trip to Scotland...  

https://www.timeout.com/london/bars-and-pubs/the-best-whisky-bars-in-london

 

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