I am about to purchase my first single malt scotch. I want my first purchase and first taste to be a special experience-- so I want to buy something I will truly enjoy-- I need some help with my choice!
When I was younger (I am now 60!), my Whiskey experiences were no that pleasant, as I always remember my drinks as very strong, bitter, and burning to the throat (Rye and Scotch blends). The last 40 years I have enjoyed wines, especially ports, and my favorites are 10-20 year olds on the tawny side. I like the flavors of oak and caramel.
I am intrigued by the complexity of choices of single malts (having been reading the forum, and browsing Michael Jackson's Book).
I think I would like Scotchs that are smooth, and sweet; definitely not harsh or hot/burning types.
From reading the forum I am thinking on making my first purchase one of these four:
Highland Park 12
Glenmorangie Port Wood
Balvenie 12 Doublewood.
Which one would I prefer if I'm looking for smooth, mellow, sweet, etc. Please any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thanks to All.
Whatever you buy, if you find it a bit harsh or strong, experiment with a bit of water. I hardly ever use water any more, but found it indispensable when starting out. It takes a while for the palate to get used to drinking spirits straight.
Good luck! If all goes well, you will soon be helplessly sucked into the vortex of single malt whisky with the rest of us. Insanity loves company! Happy dramming.
I was a huge port fan for several years (in particular the vintage ports and LBVs).
I got turned on to scotch through a bottle of Glenmorangie 10 year old. It was my favorite for years until I tried the Highland Park 12yo.
During my Glenmorangie days I went through all the common expressions. And while the Port Wood finish was a favorite for a while I don't think it will be your best introduction to single malt scotch. I find it more rough, full bodied and at times more bitter then the 10yo. And while Macallan was great back in the day I don't think what you are going to pull of the shelf today is right for the beginner (just my opinion which I am sure others will disagree with )
I would say your best bet is either
Glenmorangie 10yo (more citrus)
Highland Park 12yo (honey and light peat)
When I tried Glenmorangie Port Wood, I thought it was the most drinkable scotch I had ever tasted--light and fruity. And the Balvenie 12 DW is right up there with it. I still think my favorite though, is Highland Park 12. Since it is 5:30 pm, I think I need to go upstairs first before I send this to make a comparison between all three to make sure I give an accurate assessment.
When you try your first malt be sure to have an nice light round glass you can swirl the whisky in. And it’s a good idea to warm the glass (thanks Mr.T) in hot water right before you pour, so the whisky will be warm and give off a more pronounced nose---a good part of the tasting is in the nose.
Report: The 3 are all equally very drinkable and smooth. And when you start comparing them, they become more similar after each taste. I agree with Nock, the HP 12 does stand out with more honey than the others.
Bob & Jill, Colorado
It seems the consensus favors Highland Park 12 for my first single malt venture. I'm also tempted by the Glenmorangie / Port Wood(as I like port so much) , and will make this my second tasting.
Any special glasses you folks recommend to enhance the experience?
Regarding flavor-- Should I let the bottle breathe a while when I first open it? I've read lots of posts inferring the bottle tasted better after it was opened and had been around for a while.
Also, after pouring -- does it improve flavor to let the glass sit a few minutes before tasting (if I can wait patiently)?
I will definitely use a heated glass!
I tend to leave my whisky in its glass for 20-30 minutes before consuming it, and it definately improves the flavour and nose of the malt.
Remember, take it slow. It isn't a race, take your time and enjoy.
Remember, when you let a wine breathe, you are going to consume it all in fairly short order. Think the same with whisky--keep it to the glass you're about to consume.
I went to buy my first bottle of Highland Park 12 but the state run liquor store in Washington St. did not carry HP 12, I was a little disappointed.
They did have a lovely bottle of Balvenie 12 Double Wood (also on my list) so I picked that up. It looks great, pretty color (kinda honeyish), also liked the shape of the bottle and label.
I just heated a glass and poured myself about an ounce.
The nose is wonderful...I just sat and smelled it for a few minutes and enjoyed it. Very mellow... as I sip it -- the nose is sweetish, a little vanilla, and a little citrus or orangey ( this is my first tasting of S. M. Scotch).
The taste to me is Medium Sweet, Vanilla, Citrus, Sherry, and spicey, and very smooth ( that's the best I can make out having little experience). The finish is warm, and a little vanilla or sweet. Nice smooth long finish.
I almost like the Nose the best, but it does taste very good, and finishes nice (warm and sweet) .
I just tried a little with a teaspoon of water, and don't care for it as much.... I really like the flavor straight/neat--I think it taste much better without water!
I just poured my second dram, feeling nice and warm..... I better have some dinner and finish after dinner.
Very pleasant drink-- Really has a long sweet finish to it too!
What do you guys think of the Balvenie DW?
If anyone has any other advice for tasting/drinking please holler.
Thanks for your time everyone,
I enjoyed the Balvenie 12 DW so much last evening, I went out and bought Glenmorangie 12 Port Wood Finish.
I poured a dram of each in a warmed glass.
After spending a good deal of time with both I believe I like the Balvenie DW better.
Balvenie DW seems more complex, and smoother (Orangey/ Citrus, vanilla, etc.), and seems to have a longer sweeter finish ; The Glenmorangie although very nice and interesting tastes more harsh, and more like a Sherrry-- although it seems to have a shorter finish, biut also sweet.
Right now I'm favoring the Balvenie DW, for me it was a more mellow taste, and complex taste, and the Glemorangie tasted harsher, drier, and more sherry..
Just wondering how others feel about these two SM.
Also, wondering how I would like the Macallan 12, and or Balvenie Portwood 21.
I like the stemless Reidel Tyrol crystal glass. I like to wrap my hand around the glass while it’s on the table. I get the uneasy feeling the glass is teetering when it’s on a long stem. Bob likes a stem and he uses the German Spiegelau tulip shaped glass. I like a light-weight thin crystal glass. I find heavy thick glasses uncomfortable and a barrier between myself and my drink.
We both tend to agree with you on the Balvine 12 DW being slightly smother than the Glenmorangie 12. They are both great though.
Bob & Jill, Colorado
I went out and found a Riedel Sommelier Single Malt Scotch Glass (see photo). It's got a nice feel to it, and the delivers a nice bouquet. I attached a link with a photo. Is this the same glass your using?
By the way I picked up a bottle of Macallan 15 Fine Oak. Only one store in the state had it. I'm enjoying it in my new glass. Wonderful nose (Orange, Vanilla, Honey, Oak , and Little Smoky-- really is a lovely bouquet). Palate is very smooth, honey, oaky, and finish is sweet, very pleasant, a little short though.
It's delicious I like it very much. The Balvenie DW though is also delicious and has a longer finish. The Macallan 15 has a bit more body. I can see why you need several bottles or a good collection as they all are so different and all offer something to the taste buds.
I also got a bottle of Cragganmore 12 that I will try tomorrow night; I was anxious to try the Macallan.
No I have not seen this style of Riedel glass. It is a very interesting design (without a long stem) and looks like it would make a great whisky tasting glass, though it’s a bit pricy at $44. I’d hate to break it. I went back to the main Stemware section of the site and found the Riedel glass I was referring to. They call it Riedel 'O' Sauvignon Blanc/Riesling Stemless Wine Glass and I paid $12.50 for it at our local liquor store. I see they are $7.50 on this site.
The photo is at:
http://www.wineenthusiast.com/E/results ... 230F170FE8
I guess I am drinking whisky out of the wrong type of glass, yet it is enjoyable nevertheless.
Bob & Jill, Colorado
I paid $20 at a small local wine merchant. He had a bunch of Port glasses also. This was their single malt glass. It is really nice to drink out of as it encourages the bouquet, and has a comfortable feel to it. Williams Sonoma had it for $22.
I like your glass also-- A couple of others on that page look good too. I am sure your Single Malts taste and nose terrifically in them!! I think Riedel makes nice stuff.
I think the Malts are not half as fussy as we are!
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