November 5, 2012

Tasting A Few Single Malts

 I've been dabbling recently with single-malt scotch. Having cut my teeth a good bit on bourbon the last few years, it was time to pay some attention to scotch. Why single malt scotch you may ask? Well, unlike blended scotch whiskeys which are blends from multiple distilleries, single malts distilled at a single distillery. You can find good blended scotch, for sure, and many entry-level, cheaper scotches are made in this manner. However, when you want to taste all that scotch whiskey can offer, you need to go single malt.

I've been fortunate to have tasted some stunningly good scotch over the years from the kindness of friends, but many of these I can't really afford on a regular basis. With this in mind, the single malts that I focused on in this post are some of the more affordable single malts, each priced in the $40-$50 range in the Atlanta market.
The Balvenie 12 yr. Doublewood, from the Speyside region in Scotland, is my favorite of the three I tasted for this post. This scotch is a doublewood as it spends time in the traditional oak cask before spending additional time in a Spanish oak sherry cask. The addition of the sherry wood brings a softened, refined body to the scotch which contributes to its very smooth finish. An easy scotch to like, and one that a new scotch drinker could warm up to easily. Around $50 locally.
The Laphroaig 10 yr. is a peaty scotch from Islay, the southernmost Scottish island. Scotland is covered in peat, which is just partially decayed vegetation, and peat use by distilleries ranges from a little touch to quite a bit. Many on Islay distill over peat fires that imbues the whiskey with what can be a very present peat smoke. Peatiness can seem aggressive when you are new to scotch, the smokiness it brings is an acquired taste. However, if you like a peaty scotch, as, I do, this Laphroaig 10 year is a damn good scotch for $45.
The Aberlour 12 yr. is a double cask scotch also from the Speyside.Most of Aberlour's range is aged in American ex-bourbon casks, this 12 year old sees ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks.The Aberlour comes in at $40 locally, and while I would happily drink it any day, it does not possess the finesse and complexity of either the Laphroaig or Balvenie. If you haven't dipped your toes in the pool of single malt scotch, any of the three tasted here would give you a good representation of what these can offer. As the cold weather approaches, there really is nothing like a dram of good scotch on a cold night. Give scotch a shot, you won't be sorry.

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