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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?


Scotch Around the Clock – Why The Macallan?

13 Aug

House hunting in the Washington, DC, area is nasty. Either you feel like you are paying too much for too little, or you are paying just the right amount but you are living waaaaay too far away from anything to enjoy where you live. Currently, I live in a mediocre condo in an area of Arlington, VA, known as Clarendon. The area rules. My condo does not.

So after an evening after work, my wife, Sara F., and I go house hunting. While house hunting, my friend Brian L. texted me regarding a dram of The Macallan 12-year he decided to partake in. He decided the 18-year version just was not worth the extra cash and guilt. I agree whole heartedly. The 18-year version is nice, but hardly worth the large amount of cash for the slight increase in enjoyment.
After our evening of stress and big decisions, Sara and I decided we need a drink. We stopped in at the Eat Bar (attached to Tallula’s). I immediately check out the single-malt selection behind the bar and I am pleased to note that although they have only five to six bottles, they consist of Laphroiag 10-year, Lagavulin 16-year, Talisker 10-year, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, a Balvenie (my eyes were not good enough to spot the type/age and I really did not care enough to ask), and Macallan 12-year.
Of the aforementioned bottles, my choice was The Macallan 12-year. Not because it was a favorite, but mainly because I had not had it in a while and maybe my “mediocre” personal rating was not fair to a single-malt that is highly regarded among scotch drinking freaks.
Upon first smelling, I was quite pleased. The oaky demeanor was quite pleasing to the nose and, actually, quite pleasing to the senses. Before tonight, I do not think that I was in the r
ight frame of mind to really grasp how good the drink was. The taste was medium bodied and extremely smooth. The finish was quite subtle and very satisfying.
Maybe I was wrong. The Macallan 12-year is quite decent. I would be rather interested to taste the cask strength version. Who knows, maybe the trip to Park Avenue Liquors shop will take me to an affordable version of The Macallan.
Affordable? Not likely. The Macallan prices tend to be outrageous for how common it is.

As soon as I got home, I went to straight to my bar and poured a small follow-up glass of Lagavulin 16-year. Sometimes you forget how much love a bottle until you have that special glass. If you enjoy smokey scotch whisky and still do not have Lagavulin 16-year, you have not had that which all others are compared. Go to Pearson’s right now and grab a bottle. Their price destroys all others for that bottle ($69.99, usually $90+)