What the heck have I been drinking all my life?

General chat and talk about whisky.
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What the heck have I been drinking all my life?

Postby comicmutt » Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:30 pm

I’m 36 years old and before this year I had tried scotch twice in my life. Once I was seventeen and on Spring Break. We were at the house of someone’s parents and we were having trouble scoring something potent to drink (a horrible thing on Spring Break). A girl offered me a bottle with a red label to try. She said it was her father’s scotch. It was horrible and left a lasting, negative impression that kept me safely insulated in the world of North American whiskies like Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, Makers Mark, and occasionally Canadian Mist.

Then last year, I found out a friend of ours liked scotch. I’ve normally been a beer or vodka on the rocks guy myself, so I knew nothing of scotch except what I remembered from Spring Break all those years ago. On the way to their house one evening, we stopped at a liquor store and I asked the guy behind the counter for a good scotch as a gift. He handed me a bottle of Johnnie Walker blue or black. It was okay; I think we both had a small tumbler over ice and left the rest on the counter when we switched to beer.

And then here’s where I began to get hooked. Our scotch-loving friend and his wife went to Scotland and came back raving about their trips to the distilleries and a place called the Whisky Castle. Shortly after that, his wife purchased a bottle of Lagavulin, at the recommendation of the gentleman at the Whisky Castle, and had it shipped to the US for his birthday. The next time I went over we had a glass of that over ice. It was like a revelation. This scotch was smoky and tasted a bit like the earth itself. I could have lost myself just sniffing the glass for minutes at a time.

Since then, I’ve started buying bottles of scotch for myself. I went through a couple bottles of Glenlivet, which I drank over ice, but the Glenlivet didn’t feel that far removed from the Jack Daniels over ice that I grew up drinking. Right before Thanksgiving, we went to a bar here in Indianapolis and they had a nice selection of scotch, or they had more than just Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. I started out with a Dalwhinnie neat and liked it a great deal more than the Glenlivet. Next I moved to a Talisker neat; that really warmed me up. The bartender started talking about his favorite scotches, and I mentioned the Lagavulin. At that point he smiled and pointed to the end of the row of scotch bottles. There it stood, the smoky beast that turned my head and nose months earlier. Well, I had to have a glass of that, didn’t want to be rude.

The very next day I went to one of the better liquor stores around here to look for Lagavulin. The guy at the store laughed and said that they rarely were able to get their hands on it, and if they did it would cost $80. Yikes! But he was kind enough to point me to something that he thought would meet my needs – a bottle of Laphroaig 10yo.

The Laphroaig was the next revelation. No more ice in my scotch, ever. There’s something about that smoky, peaty smell and taste that just makes me feel connected to the earth in some way. Maybe it’s the romantic notion of this fiery liquid sitting in wooden casks by the sea for years that gets to me; maybe it’s just the taste and the smell of the result. Whatever it is, I’m a little hooked. During Christmas we visited my wife’s family in Washington, DC. At the liquor store I was thrilled to see cases of Lagavulin sitting there priced at $51 a bottle. I bought two bottles of the Lagavulin and a bottle of Caol Ila 18yo for $42. I grabbed a bottle of Oban 14yo as a Christmas gift for my brother in law, and he got me a bottle of Glenfiddich Solera Reserve.

So now I find myself with a very small collection of scotch and a growing list of future purchases.

Current bottles:
Laphroaig 10yo
Lagavulin 16 yo (2 bottles)
Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15yo
Caol Ila 18 yo

Bottles on the horizon:
Talisker 10yo
Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength
Ardbeg 10yo
Laphroaig 30yo

That should keep me well stocked through the year, I hope. I’m also excited to discover these forums, though I’m afraid it will be both a blessing and a curse. I’ve learned a lot by reading the posts here, but it seems like everyday I discover another suggestion to add to my must buy list.

So thanks everyone for expanding my whisky horizon, I look forward to learning much more in the future.

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Postby jeffk » Thu Dec 29, 2005 5:51 pm

Comic, I've been on a very similar journey, and had some similar revelations.

I found my first introduction to the world of Scotch via Macallan 25. It was a shot purchased after dinner by a friend of mine at a restaurant, and I thought to myself "Wow, this is good, I need to learn more about this stuff". After doing a lot of reading and learning about how whisky is made, etc. (I'm a beer brewing fanatic) I decided to start trying different types of whisky to what I liked.

I also ended up at the Islay styles and never looked back.

Lagavulin 16 is amazing, as are all of the Laphroaigs. Ardbeg 10 is super hard to beat at any price IMHO.

Each time I sit down to appreciate a dram, it's a wonderful experience, and I find myself looking forward to the next one.


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Postby jimidrammer » Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:54 pm

Comicmutt, welcome to the forum. It is infectious to hear someone with the same enthusiasm as I did just 1 short year ago. I still haven't lost my eagerness to find new and exciting bottles. A little advice, that "must buy" list will grow faster than your ability to drink, so dedicate some serious shelf space. :wink:

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Postby comicmutt » Thu Dec 29, 2005 11:39 pm

Thanks for the welcome Jeff and Jim. I'm glad there are others who can relate to my recent discovery of these amazing liquors. Early in the game, I'm definitely smitten by the Islay bottles, but I'll keep other styles in mind as well.

More reading here has convinced me that the Ardbeg 10 or the Laphroaig CS should be my next purchase.

The shelf space might be a problem. I have room for one more bottle on my scotch shelf, then there's the third shelf taken up by tea and coffee stuff. The tea and coffee will have to go...

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Postby MGillespie » Fri Dec 30, 2005 4:48 am

I think we both discovered whisky in a similar fashion. My only experience with it in my youth was mixing 7 and 7's (Seagram's 7 and 7-Up...yecchh!) for my father's friends at parties, and I swore off the stuff forever after doing a couple of shots of Jack Daniels at a fraternity party in college.

A few years ago, I was in Florida taking care of my grandmother's affairs after her death, and found a place in Sarasota called the Tasting Room -- a gourmet-style bar with a package store. They offered whisky flights in addition to wine flights, and I decided it was time to try something other than beer. It was a quiet night at the bar, and I told the bartender...OK, teach me what I need to know. He ran me through the basics, I went over to the retail section and bought some Balvenie, and it's been downhill from there! ;)


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