The Whiskies I Cannot Live Without

20 Sep

You can look to the right of this blog and see my current stash and recognize fairly quickly that I am not someone who just dabbles in scotch whisky. I can never seem to get to a place that makes me feel like I have experienced everything I want to experience with the Water of Life.

There are several bottles listed, however, that I am certainly glad to have experienced but would not feel any sort of impulse to replace them upon their certain bottle of emptiness doom. Much like humans in life, the end is inevitable!
On the other hand, there are several bottles and types of whisky that upon completion, I feel not only an empty space in the bar where one of my favorite single-malts were housed, but also an emptiness in my heart (or belly, whichever seems to make the most sense for you). The following list is not a ranking by any means; they all play an important roll in filling a special taste craving and appreciation that should last through the ages.
Ardbeg 10-year
Ardbeg 10-Year from Port Ellen on the Isle of Islay

The Ardbeg 10-Year shown above is an amazing blast of peat and smoke. The heavy earth flavor and taste of tabacco makes this an absolute gem. Put a $50 price tag on it and you get more bang for your buck than almost anything out there. See this one for under $50 and you would be a fool not to purchase it.

Talisker 10-year
Talisker 10-Year from the Isle of Skye
Ah Talisker 10-Year. This one holds a special place in my heart due to my first bottle arriving during my bachelor party weekend with my best of friends. Of course, none of my friends were into scotch at the time, so I mostly drank it alone that weekend. Since then, many of those same friends have fallen for this wonderful concoction from the Isle of Skye. It has so much peppery goodness wrapped in its delicate smoke, I just replaced it this week at random join in Baltimore that had it on sale for $45. You can’t buy this in Washington, DC for under $65. Welcome back, Talisker! You were sorely missed!
Highland Park 18-year
Highland Park 18-Year from OrkneyHighland Park 18-Year is nearly the most perfect scotch on the market. Sweet. Smokey. Well balanced. Even body. Almost simple in presentation with the most complicated of flavors for any scotch nut and any scotch beginner. It can get a little pricey and, from what vendors have been telling me, Highland Park is raising its prices and screwing things up. The bottles are not moving as fast and a once $85 bottle has now become a shelf duster at $100+. I have seen it on store shelves for $115 before. That makes me sad. This is too good to start hiking prices and thinking that you are The Macallan with your fancy schmancy name and history. Alas! This one is almost too good for me to drink sometimes. I nurse this bottle like it is the last one on earth.
Lagavulin 16-year
Lagavulin 16-Year from Islay

I am almost tired of writing about this guy. It is big. It is smokey. It has a wonderful brown color. It is always good. If you do not have it, put it on your shortlist. MRSP $69.99. If you see it for any more than that, keep looking. If you see it for under $60, buy the entire stock and let me know.
A Sherried Highland Speyside
The Macallan 12-Year Highland SpeysideI have a picture of The Macallan 12-year above as a representation ONLY. It may be one of the better and bigger sherried highland speyside out there, but it is also a cliche to me. Sure it is good. DAMN good, even. But when I see this sucker at every bar in America where the bartenders don’t even know what it is, it makes me sad. It is like the Heinz Ketchup of trash bars who want to look cool or have something decent on hand when Mr. Dad O’College Student stops in before taking their kid home for the summer. Other really nice sherried highland’s worth having on hand (and a matching nice price tag to boot!):
  • Abelour 16-Year Double Matured
  • Glenmorangie Lasanta
  • Balvenie 12-Year Double Wood

A Highland costal gem
Old Pulteney 17-Year distillery bottling from the northern highland coastal regionOld Pulteney 17-Year is pictured above because it is probably my favorite coastal highland. These tend to have a sea salt landscape with sweetness and ease of drink. Very relaxing, very tasty, very every-day-yes-please. Another wonderful example is Clynelish 14-year.

All of the ones I’ve mentioned I have been able to find for between $40-$100. The market demand is driving up prices and not making things very easy for the non-filthy rich so make sure you get some while you stil can!

What are your favorites?

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5 Responses to “The Whiskies I Cannot Live Without”

  1. Brian September 23, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Probably the only whisky currently in my collection that I cannot live without is the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. It's got the delicious smokiness of the Islays, but very smooth… and it can be had for $50ish. Although, if I had the Supernova, I think that would be another one I couldn't live without…. for some reason I have not picked that one up yet.

  2. Frank September 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Great blog, and helpful to us dc folks. On a whim I just stopped at a MoCo liquor store and they had the ardbeg 10 yr on sale for 41 and the talisker for 43 so I picked up a bottle of each. Not all MoCo liquor stores stock much so call first.

  3. B. Carr October 1, 2010 at 2:27 am #

    I am assuming that you are saying "MoCo" for Montgomery County (thanks to the wife for the translation because quite honestly, I had NO idea what you were talking about). You got some seriously great deals on two fantastic single malts! I would love to hear where you got your finds!

  4. Frank October 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    oops- county liquor store on Muddy Branch Rd. The county stores aren't generally known for their wine and beer selection or prices, so I guess scotch is one of their strengths. drinking some Dalmore 12 that they had for 39. Curious about your take on the various Dalmores?

  5. B. Carr October 2, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    My experience with Dalmores have never been that memorable and it has been a long time since I've had one. I hold them in the same light as some of the more boring Highlands. Would I turn my nose up to it? Nope. Is it at the top of any list of mine? Probably wouldn't even cross my mind.

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