OT: Scotch Drinkers, what is a good one to try?

Submitted by wolverine1987 on February 25th, 2018 at 9:05 PM

So I love beer, and from all the many beer threads here have found many great ones to try. I also drink bourbon and whiskey, same thing. I'm interested in getting some scotch, which I've never really tried with any frequency. What is a good scotch to try?

Important note: I'm a pussy and drink bourbon with a 2-3 ice cubes, so something mellow but flavorful would be my style.


Eat Your Wheatlies

February 26th, 2018 at 8:26 AM ^

I have just recently started drinking scotch and was at an airport bar when I saw a Macallan. I'd heard good things, so I ordered one, which turned out to be the 18. It was a little too big for me, and I was shocked when I saw the $23 it ran me. It's not a scotch I would recommend starting with, but what do I know?

I have about 4 different scotches in my cabinet at the moment, and am enjoying the Glenmorangie 10 and the Balvenie DoubleWood. Sampling a few different ones in a night can be really helpful in determining which one you like the most. It is always very clear to me which one I prefer after trying 2-3.

I was exclusively a beer drinker, and am having fun with getting into scotch. Good luck, and enjoy!


February 25th, 2018 at 9:10 PM ^

I'm not a Scotch snob and have tried a variety.  In my opinion, it doesn't have to cost $50 a shot to be good.  Glenlivet and Glenfiddich are reasonably smooth but warm the tummy nicely too. The Johnnie Walkers are a little rougher to me but have a big name. I tried all of them up to the Blue but I don't feel a huge difference between Black and Blue. I guess I don't have enough Scottish blood in me :)


February 26th, 2018 at 9:27 AM ^

To me, the difference between Red and Black his huge and the price isn't.  I don't get the "taste value" for jumping up to Blue. 

Caveat - everyone's taste buds are different.  I went to a JW hosted whiskey/whisky tasting.  Half the room would taste something and spit it out while the other half would think it and say was smooth.


February 25th, 2018 at 9:11 PM ^

Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Macallan are all excellent single malts. I’m not a fan of blended whiskey, though of course it’s a matter of preference. There’s no “best.” All are different.


February 25th, 2018 at 10:36 PM ^

A lot of Scotch wisdom in the thread.

i think though, even more than single v. blend or the concept of no "Best" there is the question of why you're drinking that particular Scotch and it speaks a fair bit to application. 

As an example, if you like Scotch with cubes (OP runs his bourbon this way) I'd avoid watering single like Laphroaig or Aberfeldy where you want that complexity evident.

Similarly, if you are having a cigar you are blunting your tastebuds a fair bit (I know this as I like a cigar with the scotch, a lot). As such, a slightly more down market blend (Johnny Black perhaps) might meet your needs.

As an aside, I'll make a couple recommendations for the OP and one non-scotch that drinks like scotch. 

a. very inexpensive: Grant's Sherry Cask. This is a surprisingly complex little scotch and very cost efficient. Very nice with a cigar and enjoys a tailgate. Approachable, easy drinking.

b. inexpensive: McClelland's Single Malt Islay. It's owned by Morrison Bowmore (Glen Garrioch, Bowmore, Auchentoshan fame). Easy go to daily if you're looking.

c. Medium: Aberfeldy. Complex as hell. Runs a bit hot but super enjoyable.

d. Upper Middle: Deanston. Moving up a bit in cost. Awesome value, IMO. Fruity, complex, interesting, heavy nose and stays on the palate all day it seems.

e. High End: Johnnie Walker Blue. This is an expertly crafted blend. Complex and delicious. I like single but JWB is great. 

f. Non Scotch but Enjoy like Scotch: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. Just a really interesting rye. World Whiskey of the Year 2016 and deservedly so. Inexpensive. Complex. Drinks easy with a few cubes. 



February 26th, 2018 at 12:06 AM ^

Yes. Be in the lookout for the word “Islay” on your labels. All Islay scotches have this distinct band-aid aroma and taste (I also liken it to blue Chloraseptic) - I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy it.

I find the non-Islay single malts the way to go as they are much smoother. Macallan 12 is my go-to when I’m doing the scotch thing.


February 26th, 2018 at 9:53 AM ^

There's a lot of misconceptions to unpack here.

Islay malts are not homogenous. I can really only think of one that regularly features band-aid notes and that's Laphroaig. While Islay is known for it's peat/smoky influence, not all islay malts use peat. Bunnahabhain mostly produces unpeated malt, for example. And importantly, there are MANY peated malts from outside of Islay, including (off the top of my head) Springbank/Longrow, Kilkerran, Ledaig, Talisker, Ardmore, Highland Park, Benromach, Benriach, Macallan...

Also, I completely disagree that smoke has anything to do with 'smoothness'. In fact, smoothness is a word that pretty much dissapears from the vocabularly of malt enthusiasts (especially when you discover the wonder that is cask strength); it's hard to find 'rough' anything at that level of quality distillation/maturation.


March 12th, 2018 at 5:06 PM ^

Not sure how my personal taste is a misconception, but okay.  


According to MattisonMan, apparently Islay scotches do NOT smell like band aids...to me.


I also said nothing about smoke being tied to smoothness. 


Your post is, however, indicative of why so many scotch drinkers come off as douchey.


February 25th, 2018 at 9:12 PM ^

If you're trying to avoid the overly smokey and peaty types and would prefer a more complex malt, I would suggest any Speyside variety. 

My personal favorite is Cragganmore, but Aberlour is another fine choice IMO.

If you'd rather go the peaty route, Laphroaig is a good start. 

swan flu

February 25th, 2018 at 9:33 PM ^

If you don’t like peat and you’re coming from bourbon, then avoid anything from Islay.

If you want something from the middle of the spectrum, you can certainly go with one of the standards(glenfiddich, glenlivet) but they are chill filtered and you will find them lacking.

I’d recommend either springbank, Oban, or highland park(though their quality has dropped a bit lately)

But if you want to be a bit more adventurous, consider a sherry bomb... Aberlour NCF or glendronach.


February 25th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

Laphroaig is... robust. But if you buy a bottle, you receive lifetime ownership of one square foot of land on their distillery property. Then you can go to Scotland, visit their distillery, and they'll give you coordinates, muck boots, and a flag from your home country so you can find your plot and plant your flag.


February 25th, 2018 at 10:49 PM ^

There's info in the box that the bottle comes in. I'm not sure if it's only with ones above a certain price point or not. My bit of land came with a bottle of An Cuan Mor.

Go Blue in MN

February 25th, 2018 at 10:13 PM ^

JTrain describes it well.  Glenlivet 15 is smoother, more oaky and somewhat more expensive.  I like it a lot.  I actually prefer it to the Glenlivet 18. 

Balvenie also has some smooth scotches that are not priced too high.


February 25th, 2018 at 9:21 PM ^

Lowland Scots Whisky is probably a good start. Auchentoshan. A milder Highland is Glenmorangie 10 YO or Oban.  If you think you need more bite, step up to Speyside whiskys: You also cannot go wrong with some of the standard aged Speysides like Glenlivets or Glenfiddichs for (early casking) as entry drugs with some standard classic Scots Whisky taste.

Don't let people tell you blends can't be good, especially Johnnie Walker Black or Blue or Chivas. Depends on what you're looking for from the evening/meal. 

MacCallan is my favorite, but all the above suit the bill. Try it neat, wtih a splash of quality water. Slainte!