How to Get into Scotch Whisky

7 Aug

One of my best friends has been slowly getting into drinking scotch whisky and it made me think to myself, “Self, how do you get into single-malts for the first time? It is such a large, confusing sea of bottles and labels with totally uncommon words all over them. Where do you start?”

If I had a choice between a silver bullet or a single-malt, I wouldn't want to make the wrong choice and make women think I'm a schmuck!

After much thought and several conversations with new scotch drinkers, it stuck me. The first thing you need is the desire to know more.

The next move is to dive right in! You will learn right away what turns you on and what makes you sick to your stomach just reading a bottle’s label. I highly recommend drinking responsibly and not getting absolutely smashed on whisky. It would personally break my heart if I suddenly developed an aversion to my favorite drink because I sickened myself to the dark side of hangover hell with Scotland’s wondrous elixir!

Go to a local bar or pub that has a small selection. Have a Macallan of some sort. Try that Glenlivet that you’ve always seen behind the bar! Try it straight, add some water, try it with a little ice. Just try it!

Once you get the idea, start branching out to see if you can pick out some single-malts from different regions. Try an Islay malt and experience the smokiness so potent in the foreground. If you find you don’t care for it, go for a different single-malt. Chances are, there is going to be one that you will attach to.

Here are a few that are not scary malts, not too terribly expensive, and worth your time as a beginner:

  1. Glenlivet 12-year – This is a very simple highland malt that is very nice. I’m not going to tell you that it is going to blow your mind, because more than likely, that is not going to happen. This is a highland speyside whisky that captures the easy going polite freshness of a basic highland. It is slightly sweet and slightly fruity with a touch of light peatiness. A touch of water will ease this across your palate. Ah, come on, you’ve seen it sitting there on the bar!
    Glenlivet 12-year.  The most common bar scotch whisky ever?
  2. Bowmore 12-year – Much like my previous posting about Bowmore, I really enjoy the accessibility of this low-priced delight. Slightly smokey, slightly sweet, and an aftertaste that is hard to place… Ahhhhhh.
    Smokey and sweet Bowmore
  3. Glenmorangie “Lasanta” or “Quinta Ruban” – If you are really into wine, you are probably going to take to these due to the way the sherry/port accents the whisky. “Lasanta” is finished in sherry casks and the “Quinta Ruban” is finished in port pipes. These two are a win-win. Right now, they are going for $49.99 at local Virginia ABC stores, too. These go for $70+ a bottle everywhere else I have seen it stocked, so do not be shy! Go get one or both of them if you are feeling frisky. Plus, look how attractive the bottles are…

So what are you waiting for? Let me know if you have any questions! I love brainstorming with someone looking for a new flavor! Do you have any you think I should add?

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