I decided to make 2014 a year of exploration into the variety of Scotches – single malts & blends. It took a progression for me to start appreciating Single Malts & some Blends. The first Scotch I tried was Johnnie Walker Black – couldn’t finish it. The flavour was too strong and way too smokey for me. Later I tried Oban, Dewars, and Chivas – all 10-12 years. The Glenlivets and Glenfiddiches were the also among first Scotches I appreciated. The exploration only deepened from there. Initially, I added 2 ice cubes per drink, diluting the flavour, allowing me to finish the drink. Today, I prefer my Scotch (mostly) neat. It’s now 2015, and the Scotch samplings continue!
Listed below are my preferences. This could change with my next tasting. Also, this page will be updated periodically.
Balvenie 12 Year Old DoubleWood is a pretty good Speyside. It’s warm and sweet, while delivering flavours of vanilla, sherry, and mild spice. A bit when plain compared to Islays, but also holds its own full taste.
Hakushu 12 was a bit underwhelming. This was my first foray into Japanese Single Malts. On the nose & visual you quickly realize it isn’t going to be full-bodied or heavy. The nose reminds me of the outdoors – forest, leaves. On the tongue it’s easy up front, but harsh in the back. Careful with water or ice on this one; it’s a bit too delicate for more than a few drops of water. If I were to narrow this down to 3 words, then those words would be: easy, delicate, and unfulfilling.
MacAllan 12 is easily my #1 choice overall. Smoothest of the smooth, with enjoyable flavours – vanilla, dry fruits & sherry, all balanced with smokiness and with enough spice to keep it fun. This was also the first Single Malt I truly enjoyed. 1 or 2 drops of water really opens up this Speyside.
Glenlivet 12 is a Speyside that costs less than the MacAllan 12 and provides enough flavour to keep you sipping. It doesn’t have the same buttery smoothness, but goes down easy. I also find this a bit dry, but sharp on taste. Solid entry into Single Malts. Glenlivet 12 was the first bottle I purchased – and so, it holds a special place for me.
Laphroaig 10 is truly a delicious Scotch, and my favorite of the Islays. I think it tastes higher than its price tag. Smokey, but not over-powering, and packed with enough deliciousness to keep you interested for a looong while. Flavours that come to mind are peat, salt, and a bit of lemon.
Amrut: Technically speaking, this is not a Scotch. It’s a whiskey from India, but completely worth the money. Seriously delicious stuff. Try the “Fusion” variety if you can – it’s their most delicious offering. Be prepared for peat and bold spice. Of course, it’s spicy – it’s Indian!
Johnnie Walker takes the cake on blends. My order of preference: Platinum > Blue > Green > Black > Red. The Red is honestly pretty disgusting taken by itself; might be the perfect mixer, though. The Platinum was less smokey than Black, but less mellow than the Blue.
From what I could tell, the Cask mattered more than the Region the Scotch originated from. That’s not to say the Region didn’t matter – its flavour still comes through, but you really need a discriminating palate to differentiate it to the Region…not something I can do consistently. I’ve changed my mind – I’m getting better at picking up regional differences; the casks definitely still tilt the flavours.
Scotches have such a variety of flavours and finishes. This alone keeps me interested in the next bottle I pick up.
Let me know if there’s a particular Scotch you enjoy. Maybe I’ll make that my next purchase.