Monday, February 27, 2012
Great Single Malts $40 and Under
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...
Bright, shining and complex. Refreshing, as far as whisky goes. This expression shows confidence in the bright side of Speysiders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!