Monday, February 27, 2012

Great Single Malts $40 and Under

Unfortunately my local tooling shop was having some difficulty with their machinery and I have been left twittling my thumbs over dull jointer knives. It has given me some time to mentally sit on ideas and concerns regarding the whisk(e)y cabinet which seemed to be helpful.
It has also given me (whether I wanted it or not) time to ponder the contents of such a cabinet. In closing of my time twittling I though I might make a post on the likely topic of single-malt Scottish whisky!

I am no authority on whisky. I am just a chap with meager earnings who happens to fancy his beverages be it coffee, tea, beer, whisky, what-have-you. With rising interest in such a stereotypically unapproachable commodity, I though it might be nice to attempt a fellow layman's point in direction to begin or further one's exploration.
The selections featured fit into the $40 and under range reflecting the best prices I have found around the Twin Cities.

The opinions are my own, the photos are not. I've linked them here from browsing images.
In alphabetical order...

- An Cnoc 12 _ Speyside
Bright, shining and complex. Refreshing, as far as whisky goes. This expression shows confidence in the bright side of Speysiders.

- Bowmore 12 _ Islay
Sweeter and softer than some of its kin. This Islay not only offers a nice gateway to the peat, smoke, and brine of the region but plenty of character of its own to enjoy. Imagine a dissolved fisherman's friend (cough drop) in a small rock pool near a seaside campfire.

- The Dalmore 12 _Highlands
Dates on the nose and perhaps some raisin in the finish. These are presumably attributes yielded by the 50% sherry cask maturation. A soft entry and spiced finish makes this an easy "daily dram" or a nice variation to a brighter collection.

- Glenkinchie 12 _ Lowlands
Floral, light citrus, with a wisp of smoke hiding among some grassy notes. Unfortunately there are only two Lowland distillery options we can get here in the U.S. This lowladdie may have a couple quirks but it still paints a lovely picture for me.

- Glenmorangie Original 10 _ Highlands
Fairly bright and highly complex, such as the An Cnoc 12, however this expression offers a very light hint of smoke. It is also a tad drier perhaps due to the little smoke, or maybe its Highland nature. Either way, you'll have plenty to think about.

- Highland Park 12 _ Highlands (Island - Orkney)
The malt of Highland Park has been touted as "the greatest all-rounder in the world of malt whisky." I am inclined to say that rings true for this group. Hints of peat with a great soft smoke surrounded by a balanced body showing the qualities one might expect to find in a highlander.

- Laphroaig 10 _ Islay
Here's your smoke and peat monster on a "budget." Smoke, peat, briny seasides, iodine, it's all there. For many it can be a love/hate thing. I have yet to decide. Most of the time I'm interested in a "sophisticated" balance, but sometimes I'm in the mood for something more gruff.

- The Macallan Fine Oak 10 _ Speyside
The Speyside region represents about 50% of Scotland's distilleries. If you are looking for an overview of the region I may suggest this number. At "first glance" the Fine Oak 10 may be a bit "boring" or middle of the road. Well, that's the trick isn't it? In furniture craftsmanship I know it is quite difficult to produce something in which nothing sticks out.
Sure, it may be a bit simplistic, but there are quiet details to be found. It also illustrates the qualities shared by many expressions of the region in a fairly clear and unpretentious way.

- Tomintoul 16 _ Speyside
What it lacks in brand presence, design, and packaging, it makes up for in quality and at a bargain price. The Tomintoul 16 has a sophisticated nose with so much to explore it will take your lips some time before greeting this "gentle dram." Among other things, the palate has a lovely vanilla cream taste and texture leading to a very softly spiced finish.


Alright, that wraps up my little list. I hope you've been able to enjoy this divergence from woodwork, or just brush it by.
Rest assured, it's back to shavings, and swarf next time!


Timberwerks Studio - Dale J. Osowski - Furniture Maker said...

Keep an eye open for Aberlour A'bunadh. Sometimes you can find it for a tad over $50.00. Also watch for Ardbeg 10, it's a fantastic peaty friend that sometimes can be found for under $50.00.

Bruichladdich Rocks is another good one to have on hand. Lucky for me my local Piggly Wiggly is selling out their stock at $36.00 a bottle. All the above are non chilled filtered and use no E150.

Not a single malt but a fantastic value is Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve bourbon. Another must have.

Whiskey & whisky is a fantastic hobby. Make sure to follow Ralfy Mitchell: Great videos and reviews from him. He is also on Facebook.

Nicholas Nelson said...

Thanks for the comment Dale.
I just tried a glass of Ardbeg 10 the other day. I was surprised at how "vibrant" it was. I don't think I've seen it under $55 yet. I have seen Caol Ila 12 for $50. The A'bunadh I typically seen in the $60 range.
I've tried the Bruichladdich 12, but in the $50s I'd probably choose something else. I've been apprehensive of "Rocks" being geared towards ice. What's your take?
Favorite Islay I've tried thus far is Lagavulin 16. Of course at $80 a bottle its not in the cards for me.
I was also surprised that I quite enjoyed The Glenlivet French Oak 15. Soft with an air of sweet oak dust, warming spice, and if you look hard enough you can find a little charred oak.

It has been a long time since I tried a little Knob Creek, I'd like to try it again.

Jason Herrick said...

YUMM!! That is just how I like to start my morning read. An article about booze. The Dalmore sounds fab. I am not a smoke fan, but I can assure you, next time I hit the market, this post goes with me. :)

Timberwerks Studio - Dale J. Osowski - Furniture Maker said...

Rocks is very good at the $36.00 price point however at the usual $50.00 I'd have to give it some thought and most likely spend a little more and go with the A'bunadh.

However if your Milwaukee area friends make a trip to the Mequon Piggly Wiggly and pick you up a bottle while it's $36.00 I know you would be very pleased with it. Other area Piggly Wigglyd may also be selling at reduced close out price, not sure.

Once budget allows Ardbeg Uigeadial will be on my shelf. May be awhile though ;-)