Guys love scotch; I think that it’s genetic. Perhaps it’s a rite of passage, a gradual acquisition, or a celebratory conquest, but eventually in their life every man enjoys a glass of scotch. There is a right way and a wrong way to enjoy scotch. We will get into that later, but first let’s look quickly at a variety of scotch and whisky/whiskey (yes there is a difference).
There are numerous types of whisky and whiskey, and are fairly similarly made; using cereal grains and distilled in casks. Whiskey with an “e” is strictly American or Irish made. Americans have a few more separations; there is bourbon typically from Kentucky. Then there is corn, malt and rye whiskies. We may talk more about whiskies and bourbon some other time. What it’s really all about now is scotch.
Scotch is a type of whisky (sans-e) made only in Scotland. As with the mother Whisky, scotch itself has some distinctions as well. There are: single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain, and blended scotch. For the purposes of this post we will simplify it to single malt and blended. Single varieties use only one malt or one grain at one distillery, blended can be combinations of one or more of singles from different distilleries. All of it is aged at least three years in charred oak casks. Many, though not all, Scotch whiskies use peat smoke to treat their malt, giving Scotch its distinctive smoky flavor.
There are hundreds of concoctions and witches brews out there, but, scotch is best served alone. Doing so, with good stuff anyway you can enjoy the complexity of flavors. You can drink it neat (all by itself), on the rocks (my personal choice) or with a little water. The water tends to help enhance the flavor and complexity. On occasion I will mix a “rail” scotch with Drambuie and enjoy one of my favorites, a “Rusty Nail”, and the only thing acceptable to mix with scotch in my humble opinion.
Now I am not going to tell you that the only worthy Scotch costs big bucks like this guy says about watches. Of course there is some relationship between cost and quality (usually), but don’t think that just because you decided to dump $200K on a bottle of scotch it suddenly makes you a scotch snob…..it really just makes you pretentious. Besides, The Most Interesting Man in the World doesn’t drink Antarctic Nail Ale, he drinks Dos Equis. There are some great drinks at these premiums, and I would certainly love to partake of these, but there are plenty of very very good beverages to enjoy without taking out a second mortgage.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Laphroaig– a wonderfully rich and complex single malt Islay scotch. You can practically taste the sea where it is made when you drink it.
The Glenlivet Nàdurra 16 Year Old- This was given to me as a gift recently, another fantastic single malt, and very smooth.
Johnnie Walker Black Label– This is my go to drink, an incredible blended scotch very rich and easy to drink.
And finally Famous Grouse– A blended scotch approaching the “rail” but with excellent flavor and perfect for that spectacular Rusty Nail.
So don’t be afraid to sample some, find what you like, but definitely get to know scotch, because it is pretty swell.