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Your Impressive Bottle for the Office – Part I (of II)

8 Oct

So you are an important person. You have people to impress. The Japanese CEO of the company that you are about to purchase is coming to your office next week and you need to have a nice bottle on hand to show this CEO who is sophisticated and someone not to second guess. This is a very common scenario, so not to worry, I have some advice to impress.

First, let me ask you this question: did Johnnie Walker Blue pop into your mind yet?

If it did, you need this post more than you think. Poser.

Age matters
Let’s face it. Age is a revered number value on a bottle of single malt scotch whisky. Age drives up the price of bottles. If you want to impress with age, then you should choose something over the age of 18 years.

A 25 year bottle will do nicely, but anything over the age of 30 years is going to be a large taste risk. Aging whisky for long periods of time can create an unwanted change in taste and flavor. If you go over the age of 40, it does not even matter what you are drinking and it will not matter what it tastes like. You will just be considered the man. Remember, a bottle of Glenmorangie 10-year-old that sits on your shelf for five years before you open it does not make it a Glenmorangie 15-year-old… it is now just a 15-year-old Glenmorangie 10-year-old. Mull that over for a moment, Lucas.

My budget recommendations:

Highland Park 25-Year $250-$300 range

Highland Park 25-Year-Old
(Current label style)

Pretty woody from the age, a little lighter on the smoke and peat, but a full body gentleness that is quite soothing. Not tremendously better than the 18-year version, but definitely a giant step up on the impress-me scale.

Talisker 25-Year$190-$250 range

Talisker 25-Year
(Current label style)
This thing is yummy. I would love to have one around just to impress myself with how cool I am. A little woody fullness, a high volume of alcohol that you probably would not notice if you did not see the alcohol volume on the bottle label. It has a gentle pepper with a sherry touch delight. You’ll pull all sorts of dried fruits from the palate.
What would you recommend for a budget impressive bottle?
NEXT UP: My No-Budget Recommendations

Letter: My Advice to an Uninformed Restaurant

15 Sep
I was a recent patron at your restaurant’s bar. First of all, let me tell you what an amazing location your restaurant is! An amazing view of the city and the Potomac River. My friends and I really enjoy popping in for an early evening casual drink.

I recently visited your establishment and skipped (almost literally) straight to the bar to scope out your scotch selection. As I had remembered before, you had the same blasé single malts (The Glenlivets of a few boring ages and finishes) and the expected blends (Johnnie Walker Red, Black, and Dewers *YAWN*). On my last two visits, this is was quite literally the only place in town that had Talisker 25-year (approximately $250 / bottle) on the bar for a reasonable price (approximately $25-27 per glass).
It is quite obvious where this is going; it was gone! Okay. I am not going to panic, I see a nice bottle of Laphroaig 10-year smiling at me on one of the upper shelves. Here is an artist’s rendition of the moment:

An amazing drawing of my Laphroiag memory

So I sigh at the lack of Talisker 25-year, and inquire of the price of the yummy Laphroaig 10-year. The elderly gentleman behind the bar informs me of the $22 price tag.
I politely asked him to repeat himself. Same answer. $22.
“I’ll have a beer, then.” $5.
A bottle of Laphroaig 10-year costs approximately $50 at a retail store. I am too lazy to calculate the mark-up on that price per glass, but WOW. Quite frankly, I was actually offended at that price. Just because it is a single malt, doesn’t mean that people are stupid and will empty their wallet for it. I would have paid as much as $15 out of desperation to go with the great view, but crossing the $20 mark was just offensive. Harry’s Tap Room holds this same dram at $8.50. Harry’s food and establishment (excluding your view) is leagues of classy above yours.
Please get your scotch act together. You are just embarrassing yourself out there. If you need some help, shoot me an e-mail. I may answer you. But then again, I really wanted that Laphroiag that you dangled in front of my nose before slapping me in the face with a dead wet fish.
Not so truly yours due to your scotch selections,
P.s. >:-Þ

Our first scotch tasting event!

4 Aug

On a balmy Sunday evening, we called to order our very first Single-Malt Scotch Whisky tasting held at Mark R.’s residence in Alexandria, VA. Guests in attendance? Mark R., Scotch F., Travis B., Matthew G., Sam L., and Andrew W.

The drinks on the menu were tasted as follows:

  1. Glenkinchie 12-year (Lowland)
  2. Dalwhinnie 15-year (Highland)
  3. Highland Park 18-year (Orkney)
  4. Talisker 10-year (Skye)
  5. Lagavulin 16-year (Islay)
  6. Balvenie 15-year single barrel (extra credit) (Highland – Speyside)

Mark R. was also gracious enough to prepare some excellent heavy appetizers:

  1. Reuben dip (get recipe here)
  2. Smoked salmon paté
  3. Crab dip
  4. Hummos

All were excellent and paired with each of the whiskies wonderfully. The smoked salmon in particular went with the smokier Talisker and Lagavulin.

Each guest was given a bottle of filtered water (see neat/water/ice discussion) to prepare their serving to their personal taste. We started with the gentler lowlands and worked our way through the highland and Orkney selections before hitting the palate smacking Islay malts. From the selections we chose, here is a chart showing how people rated each one (click graph to enlarge):

I was extremely interested in how each person reacted to each one and how different people’s tastes can be. Everyone found something that they really enjoyed where almost everyone really enjoyed the Talisker 10-year fairly evenly in comparison to the other malts. Lagavulin 16-year is always a strikingly powerful smokey Islay malt. My wife says it smells like a campfire and I could not agree more. Delicious.

My favorite comment of the evening came from Travis B. regarding my absolute favorite scotch whisky to date, Highland Park 18-year. “So what do you think, Travis?”

“It is terrible.”


“Yes. It takes like crap in a glass.”

Awesome. His comment is warming. A bear hug.

My Current Stock 7/29/2009 & The Rusty Nail

29 Jul

You can never have too many single-malts in your bar (says the person who writes for a blog called “Scotch Finder)!” Here is a picture of my current stash:

Ardbeg – 10-year
Ardbeg – Uigeadail
Balvenie – Single Barrel – 15-year
Bowmore – Legend
Caol Ila – 18-year
Dalwhinnie – 15-year
Glenkinchie – 12-year
Glenmorangie – Extra Rare – 18-year
Highland Park – 18-year
Isle of Jura – Superstition
Lagavulin – 16-year
Springbank – 15-year
Talisker – 10-year

Yum! Yum! Yum!

I have a few blended scotches (not pictured) that I keep on hand for mixed drinks right beside my trusty bottle of Drambuie. My favorite scotch mixed drink is a Rusty Nail:

1 1/2 oz Scotch
3/4 oz Drambuie
Garnish with citrus wedge or twist

The flavor is extremely sweet and tastes quite similar to a scotch/Yeager/triple sec mix. Make sure you put it on lots of ice.

Rusty Nails are a very classic drink and not for the faint of heart–you will notice by the recipe that the drink is basically straight liquor. More than once I have been accused of drinking an “old man” drink when I make it. I recommend using a low-end blend (Dewars or Black/Red Johnnie Walker) and not damaging the integrity of a fine single-malt. I compare putting a fine single-malt in a cocktail like putting rare tequila into a margarita…

…what’s the point?

Duty Free Tease

27 Jul

So my friend, Brian, got back from London and brought me back a nice little present from Duty Free. I begged him to bring me back something for me and he had agreed. I gave him a 100 pound limit, a list of distilleries that I really enjoy, a list of what I already had, crossed my fingers, and set him loose.

He was nice enough to take a picture of it sitting on his busy computer desk to tease me…

A Highland Park 21-year (47.5% vol) and Talisker Double-Matured Distillers Edition (45.8% vol) bottled in 2008! Excellent work, my friend. I have never tasted either one and I have never been more excited. The Talisker Double-Matured seems to have been placed into Sherry casks to affect the flavor. I am so pumped.

I am having dinner with Brian on Wednesday so I will keep you posted. It is making me crazy knowing that those two bottles are out there and I have not tasted it, yet!

Brian knows this fact.