If you were to introduce someone to single malt whisky ....

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If you were to introduce someone to single malt whisky ....

Postby anajulia » Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:03 pm

If you were to introduce someone to single malt whisky, what 10 whiskies would you recommend to start with?

Full bottles, under US $100.

And I wish I had had this list when I started.


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Postby GreyArea » Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:48 pm

You're going to want a good spread of styles. Hence:

Laphroaig 10yo (dark and peaty)
Dalwhinnie 15 (light and sweetly crisp)
Balvenie 12y/o Doublewood (sherried)
Bowmore Dawn (Port wood finished)


perhaps some of the Edradour finishes - I'm rather partial to the Marsala finish.

Not 10 but a good start I'd say.


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Postby jeffk » Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:27 pm

My theory (I've only tried this once) was to start with a cheap, but ok malt as the first, very small, introduction. For this I chose Glenlivet 12.

After they see it's not so bad, then I increase the quality and intensity.

I think a lot of people have it in their minds that Scotch is like Jack Daniels or something, and think that's it's borderline undrinkable by itself, or they have it with ice, which dumbs down the flavors.

If they're liking the progression, we end up at Ardbeg and Lagavulin, and by then they're hooked :)

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Postby GreyArea » Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:36 pm

Well, the Dalwhinnie would be the starting point in my list, as it's the most subtle of them. From there they can try some that have rather more intense characters, ending up with (as you say) the Laphroaig. Keep in mind though that a lot of people who love whisky can't stand the deeply peaty ones :-)


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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:54 pm

GreyArea wrote:Keep in mind though that a lot of people who love whisky can't stand the deeply peaty ones :-)

Maybe, but for some, they're what gets them hooked in the first place.

If I'm introducing someone to malts, ten is way too many to think about. I want to show the broad range of flavors available in as few drams as possible. Not show all the flavors, mind you, but just how big the range is. So maybe two for starters, no more than four. Maybe Balvenie 10 and Lagavulin, with perhaps a heavily sherried one for the third, and then I can say that most everything else will fall in between. Gauge the reaction, and go from there; offer something more balanced, say Clynelish or Highland Park. Or if the person seems to favor one corner of the triangle, explore that.

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Postby hpulley » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:26 pm

I was going to agree with Mr. TH and say 10 is too many but when I thought about it, it wasn't that hard really. In fact, once I got started I had to pare it down.

Rosebank 12, Glengoyne 17, Glenlivet 18, Glenfarclas 15, Glen Garioch 15, Clynelish 14, Bruichladdich 15, Highland Park 12, Talisker 10, Ardbeg 10: all quite affordable even though I threw in some which are not the 'standard' expressions.


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Postby MGillespie » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:37 pm

I'm of two minds on this...but lean toward breaking a beginner in slowly with four or five to show the regional differences, then bring in five more later on to show the subtleties within those regions.

Any of the choices on Harry's list would be good to begin with...


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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:39 pm

I think the first challenge is to persuade people that it is worth paying double for a single malt over the price of a Claymore and that it can be had neat. The worst traits of a Claymore are the fiery heat and lack of a defined flavour. You could do worse than pick a lighter Speyside - e.g. Glenfiddich - or a rich Highland - e.g. Lochnagar.

The next challenge is to demonstrate that there are different flavours and styles within single malts. I discovered this through the Classic Malts range - and you could probably do worse than this approach yourself. But I would start with a light Speyside, a sherried Speyside, a fruity Highland and an Islay. Perhaps throw in a Lowland too. You could try Glenfiddich, Aberlour, Pulteney and Ardbeg - and perhaps Glenkinchie.

Once you have got over the fact that there are differences, and if you still have interest, then you could try exploring nuances of different styles - e.g. a few Speysides, a few Islays, a few Highlands, etc. according to initial preferences. I would be tempted to do it in a bar with Glencairn glasses to avoid outlay on lots of bottles.

I think ten bottles is for once you have got the beginner well and truly hooked. Remember, for a beginner, every single bottle will be a new experience and too much choice at the start could reduce the salience of each experience.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:45 pm

Okay...I've had lunch and thought about it. It's not quite a list of ten, but it's a good start, all readily available in the US and reasonably priced:

Glenmorangie 10
Balvenie 15 or 12 or 10
Highland Park 12
Macallan cs or Aberlour a'bunadh
Talisker 10
Ardbeg 10 or Laphroaig 10 or Lagavulin 16
Clynelish 14
Glenfiddich 15

That should be enough to get anyone thinking.

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Postby hpulley » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:05 pm

If you want to go regional I'd suggest:

Ardbeg 10 Islay
HP 12 Orkney
Clynelish 14 North Highland
Legaig 15 Mull
Springbank 15 Campbeltown
Talisker 10 Skye
Glen Garioch 15 East Highland
Ben Nevis 10 West Highland
Glengoyne 17 South Highland
Rosebank 12 Lowland
Glenfarclas 15 Speyside

Not a bad cabinet any day I'd say.


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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:05 pm

My wife and i have been keen on finding malts that we can both enjoy, and so in our forays on some well-stocked whisky bars we have found some gems. The wife is extremely picky and only likes the really "kind" ones, they have to be smooth as silk or she won't have another sip, and therefore makes them excellent whiskys with which to introduce and enthrall newbies.
I now know enough to order a drink or buy a bottle of something with a little edge on it so she'll most likely be apt to leave it alone. :wink: :lol:
These are some of the ones that she really likes: Ardbeg 17yo, Balvenie(Portwood) 21yo, Ben Nevis 10yo, Blair Athol 12yo, Bowmore 17yo, Clinelish 14yo, Glengoyne 17yo, Glenrothes(1971) 13yo, Glenturret 15yo, HighlandPark 18yo.

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Postby JWFokker » Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:10 am

If I were introducing someone to single malts, I wouldn't have them buy anything. I'd let them try a couple drams of each of mine and save them the expense of buying something they may not like. I know I thoroughly regret some of the blind purchases I made. Almost every whisky has it's proponents. Someone will tell you a particular whisky is the best thing since sliced bread, but I for one, strongly dislike any Bowmore, Cragganmore, or Tamdhu. And I'm sure there's more I haven't had yet. But it's important that I've tried them though, so I can more easily identify what I like and what I don't like in the future.

If they must make one or more purchases, the Balvenie 10 or Balvenie Doublewood are both very agreeable whiskies. Even a Macallan is close enough to the middle of the road not to offend anyone's senses. Especially the new Fine Oak line that makes it less distinctive than before. If you wanted to get really unoffensive, the Dalwhinnie is actually marketed as "The Gentle Spirit" or something like that. It's not bad by any means, it's just not especially memorable. Very smooth though.

If you want to educate them, I suppose you should have them try whiskies that are representative of each region. In that case, Ardbeg, a real, all sherry finish Macallan, Talisker, Dalwhinnie, Clynelish, maybe one or two others to get an appreciation for the range that single malt scotches offer. I suppose it depends upon what your goal is.

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Postby bamber » Thu Nov 24, 2005 11:31 am

I'll play (in order :)):

Lagavulin 16yo (the first sip was magic for me !)
Talisker 10yo
Ardbeg 10yo
HP 12yo
Macallan 10yo
Glenlivet 18
Glenfiddich 18
Glenfarclas 15 (Harry made me think of this one, and Admiral recommended it to me)
Bladnoch 10yo ff
Longmorn 15yo

My theory is to use the peaty ones to grab their attention.

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Postby Tom » Thu Nov 24, 2005 6:59 pm

Ten starter malts, so to speak.

Balvenie 10 -for honey-
Ardbeg 10 -for peat-
Bowmore 12 (new release) -for accesseble peat,balance and complexity-
Bladnoch Cask Strength -Lowland-
Glenrothes 1992 -honey, balance-
Highland Park 12 -everything is there, try and find it, challenging-
Glenfarclas 10 -bourbon and sherry-
Cragganmore 12 -floral-
Macallan 12 -Sherry-
Invergordon or Greenore 8 (Irish) -Grain whisky, I think any beginner should try a grainwhisky as soon as possible-

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Postby TreacleSponge » Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:26 pm

At our pub we always used to start first-time-whisky drinkers on Dalwhinnie, which we fondly call “a lady’s whisky” – light and sweet. But following a recent blind tasting, we now also introduce newbies to An Cnoc - creamy, light, vanilla-ish and very drinkable.

For a first few I’d prolly also include:

Edradour 10 - cos I get a great taste of custard from it :lol: Also people who are new to whisky are finding things out, and they can learn it’s from the smallest Scottish distillery – it’s nice to feed ppl’s learning.

Auchentoshan or Bruichladdich – so they learn that the impossible-looking words aren’t unpronounceable after all, and sometimes it’s worth persevering with the strange names to get a nice dram :)

Talisker – just to introduce them to peat and gauge their reaction before progressing to Ardbeg & Lagavulin.

Also it depends on what the person already drinks – if they drink Jack Daniels, I’ll try them with Highland Park 12. If they drink brandy, I’ll suggest something warming, sherried, and a bit more oomph than our starter whiskies - maybe Macallan or Mortlach 16.

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Postby Badmonkey » Fri Nov 25, 2005 4:58 am

I usually start with whiskies that are readily available and reasonably priced, with $70 being the usual cut-off point in Alberta. Most of my friends either don't have the income to spend more on a bottle or aren't willing to spend more when they haven't really developed a taste for whisky yet. Usually that means the following 4 malts:

Highland Park 12
Dalwhinnie 15
Balvenie 10
Glenlivet 12

From here it's usually a question of what's available in my whisky collection or at the local bar. Now the list would include these:

Laphroaig 10 cask strength
Talisker 10 (old bottle; haven't tried the new 10 yet)
Scapa 12
Balvenie Double Wood
Ardbeg 10
Springbank 10

Not all of these are among my favourites, but they don't have to be. I just want something that my buddy is likely to enjoy on the first sip and that will spur him to buy some bottles of his own for me to sample from.



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Postby kiltrock68 » Fri Nov 25, 2005 8:28 am

My start was:

Cardhu 12y
Bushmills 10y (irish)
Balvenie 10
Balvenie 12
Macallan 12 (sherry cask)
Aberlour 10
Aberlour 15 double cask
Scapa 12
Talisker 10
Glendronach 15
Blair Athol 12 F+F

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New Drinker

Postby ScotchBlog » Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:08 pm

I'd base what I gave a "new" drinker, on what they already like.
If they don't like "hard liquor" there will be very little you can do to get them over to the dark side.

When I encounter a Bourbon Drinker, I give them Balvenie DoubleWood - Very similar to a good bourbon.

If someone likes wine/sherry, I'll likely give them a Macallan 12, Aberlour 10, or MAYBE a Glenfarclas 12

If they have tried and like blends, I might wean them in with a light unassuming standard - likely Glenlivet, or something like Dalwhinnie or Auchentoshan.

I would NEVER start with a smokey Islay.

At least that's my $0.02.

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