Here is a list of what I currently have:
Caol Ila 12 = 9/10
Highland Park 15 = 8/10
Oban 14 = 7/10
Glenlivet 15 F.O.R. = 6.5/10
JW Blue = 9/10 but too expensive
JW Black = Favorite everday blend
JW Gold = enjoy the Black more
Famous Grouse 18 = Least favorite blend
I think I am drawn towards the smokiness and smoothness of the Caol Ila and JW Blue.
I am looking at picking up 1 or 2 of the following but would like other suggestions as well:
Isle of Jura Superstition
Any feed back would be appreciated.
Jura Superstition is hit-and-miss with sulphur these days. My current bottle is really good, but not in the smoky direction...
Talisker is generally very peaty and peppery and occasionally sour...the 18 is much smoother and also has good depth. Both are similar in flavor profile so try the 10yr first to see if you like the distillery "character."
Highland 18yr is an excellent bottling and definitely hits the smoky/smooth/heathery/sherry characteristics. The 25yr 45.8% that I have is absolutely amazing. I like the 12 and 18 better than the 15, which I found to be too feinty for me. Supposedly more recent 15yr versions are much improved so YMMV.
I have a Clynelish 14yr that is really nice but not at all smoky.
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but if one does stand out as "smoky and smooth" as you wish, it has to be the Talisker 18. A good suggestion that has been made already, along with "try the 10 to see if you like the house character". You may well find it in a bar someplace - the 18 is more expensive, but...what a dram!
HP18 is also excellent, but I think I prefer the Talisker.
Very difficult to rate "preferences" with whisky, as they're all so different - the best are very distinctive.
triguy42 wrote:Based on your preference for smoothness and smoke in the Caol Ila and JW Blue I'd consider the Benriach Curiositas. It's a bit rougher because of the lack of oils that smooth out Caol Ila, but interesting and not that expensive.
As triguy42 suggests, Curiositas represents a very interesting and uniquely tasty malt for the money... Certainly worth investigating.
Or you could purchase Glenlivet Nadurra 16YO Cask Strength and Lagavulin 16YO, then mix together 4 parts of the former with 1 part of the latter.
The only other off-the-beaten-track recommendation that comes immediately to mind is to search out some of the older vintage (distilled in the late 1960s or early 1970s) Glen Gariochs, which displayed quite healthy peat-reek levels.
HP18 runs around $75 and Lagavulin 16 around $80 near me, and is at the upper limit when it comes to buying a bottle without having sampled it first.
I just learned from a coworker there is a bar near me that has over 60 different SMS and allow you to order what is essentially a sampler plate(.5oz of between 3-5 different whiskies). And it appears they have every suggestion from the list, so I guess I'm stopping by the bar before the liquor store.
I got a feeling this could get out of hand fast....
Please excuse the stupid question, but what is Cask Strength and Quarter Cask ? Are they just marketing terms or is there actual meaning those labels ?
I also second the Laphroaig QC or Laga 16 as an alternative to the Ardbeg, the Laga being my favorite of the three.
Seeing you like blends I think Chivas 18 is a wonderful whisky, better IMO than JW Blue but around one third the price.
You love peat right!? So, in any order, go get Ardbeg 10, Ardbeg Uigedail, Lagavulin 16/CS, Laphroaig CS/10/QC - all classics and all delicious and all must try whiskies.
Then if you ever find you're after something less peaty go for a Talisker and then the HP's are less peaty again.
I'd say you also owe it to yourself to try Aberlour a'bunadh at some stage too.
You've got so many wonderful new whiskies to try, what great fun!
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I'm not sure where you're from but if at all possible I'd strongly recommend you track down any Ardbeg you can and buy a couple of each. Ditto for the Caol Ila.
My reasoning is simple, I know there are a lot more variations of Ardbeg and Caol Ila than we can access in this part of Canada, Whatever you can find in your part of the world, buy two, one for drinking and one for future reference.
JW Blue I've sampled and would only purchase if I'd bought every other SM I ever wanted to own first. It's okay but not worth the price sticker IMHO.(That sounded a lot like Frodo, didn't it?) That being said, I did enjoy the JW Green and would pick one up again.
BenRiach Curiositas is also a unique dram.
Whisky wrote:I think you should get, nay need, a Laphroaig 10. (Think you already said you had the Quarter Cask in an earlier version of your original post.) I had some recently and was reminded of just what a great whisky it is, especially for the money.
But do you think 10 yo is better than QC? Cause I reckon QC is worth twice the 10 yo's price and, being only £2 dearer, it's one of the best value for money whiskies around. Like it much better than the standard 10 yo. It's a classic, I know, but it slightly deteriorated over the past few years:(
You'd think it'd cost a good bit more than the 10 year old as, presumably, it's quite expensive to make the quarter casks.
It is now a tossup between the Caol Ila 12 and Talisker 18 as to which is my favorite SMS thus far.
I have questions regarding Peat and Smoke. Are they the same thing ? I enjoy the smokiness of the CI 12, Talisker 18, and JW Blue, but is that the actual peat flavor I'm tasting , or does the smoke flavor come from something else like the barrel the whiskies were matured in ?
I've seen some whiskies referenced as peat monsters (Lagavulin 16 ?). Does that mean they are really smoky ? Are the CI 12 and Talisker 18 considered mild islay whiskies ?
Trying to become better educated before throwing down the $$$ to go further down the Islay rabbit hole.
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I was just curious if you got the Talisker 18 at the new Spec's in Austin. I live in the Houston area so have been spoiled with Spec's with quite some time. I am amazed that they continually sell the 10 and 18 at such close price points. As soon as the cash flow improves a bit I want to pick up Caol Ila 12 and Talisker 18. I love the 10 of course, as evidenced by my moniker.
As far as the smoke and peat go, I assume you taste two separate things as do I. The earthy, sweet taste of the peat (really noticeable in Laphroaig) and the smoky taste (Bowmore to me is more smoke than peat). I believe they come from the same place, that is the peat fires that are used to dry the malted barley. It seems they just manifest themselves differently. There would not be a smoky taste that comes form wood. Wood might add an element of fruitiness, or a vanilla tone. We had a thread while back about the pepper of Talisker. I think the general consensus was that was due to due to type of stills or the distillation process unique to Talisker.
talisker10 wrote:I was just curious if you got the Talisker 18 at the new Spec's in Austin. I live in the Houston area so have been spoiled with Spec's with quite some time. I am amazed that they continually sell the 10 and 18 at such close price points. As soon as the cash flow improves a bit I want to pick up Caol Ila 12 and Talisker 18. I love the 10 of course, as evidenced by my moniker.
Yes Sir/Mam (we've got four Spec's in the Austin area now). Definitely spoiled by the selection they offer as well as their prices. Their lineup is pretty consistent across the stores, with some slight variations (Only one carries the Caol Ila 12 so far.)
Regarding the Peat/Smoke tasting, I guess I'm too much of a novice to know if I taste two different things. Or I just don't know what peat tastes like.
Suggestions on what I should sample in order to distinguish peat from smoke ?
There is a bar near me that offer .5 oz samplers like:
Lagavulin 16, Cragganmore 12, Dalwhinnie 15, Glenkinchie 10, Oban 14, Talisker 10
Auchentoshen 10, Edradour 10, Glenmorangie 10, Balvenie 10, Springbank 10, Laphroaig 10
Or Lineup Samplers like:
Benriach 10, 12, 20, 21
Ardbeg 10, Uigeadail, Beist, Provenance
Collector57 wrote:I consider peat and smoke to be rather different.
If it smells like an earthy aroma, maybe singed earthy, that is peat.
But smoke isn't necessarily peaty - it can be like a bonfire (easily recognised) or it can be like burning peat.
My thoughts exactly.
"The smokiness is directly attributable to the malting of the barley and can, depending on the timing/proportion/sequence of drying over peat, coal and/or warm air, vary substantially in degree and aromatic/flavour characteristics. It is also influenced by the actual composition of the peat employed during the malting process. Peat is, after all, little more than old, decomposed vegetation. Every peat bog is different. And the depth to which the peat is cut can also have an effect. Of course, nowadays, most of Islay's malted barley comes from the large Port Ellen maltings facility, thus somewhat homogenizing the process except for the phenolic levels. But Bowmore and Laphroaig persist in using a proportion of malted barley from their own on-site operations, and the stylistic variance between the two is readily discernible (Bowmore's more sandy and crumbly in composition and Laphroaig's denser and more vegetative). Another matter to consider is the fact that both the distillation cycle and extended cask maturation tend to dissipate the impact of the phenolic levels initially achieved during the malting process."
"For those who are seriously interested in Islay malts and how the myriad complexities of the whisky are derived (water, malt, sea air, still geometry, etc.) I would offer a serious recommendation for Andrew Jefford's book, Peat Smoke and Spirit."
"The bottom line, however, is how that smokiness interacts with the intrinsic characteristics of the malt. And on this note, you'll just have to decide for yourself."
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