Help! Non-Drinker Needs to Buy Good Scotch!
Hi, I would like to pick up a nice bottle of Scotch in the $50 range for a gift - but I don't drink the stuff! What do you suggest? TIA!
You can definitely find dozens of choices in single-malt scotch once you go above $40, so you're in luck. I can't speak to the blended scotch.
Unfortunately, now it gets down to personal taste, so you'll probably get a bunch of replies varying widely.
That being said, my personal favorite is Lagavulin. It's running about $60-70 now so maybe above your range.
Others that others may recommend include
Glenfiddich (widely available)
Glenlivet (widely available)
re: Angel Food
Is single malt preferable to blended? I'm guessing yes?
Not necesarilly. There are some excellent blends out there, including anything by two new and particularly innovative companies: Compass Box and Jon, Mark and Robbo.
If your friend is a real scoth enthusiast, you have many options, though it does depend on taste. The biggest taste difference is between peated (smokey) vs. non-peated. You can't go wrong with any of the following single malts, all of which shoud be avaiable in a good liquor store in the $50-70 range:
Laphroig Quarter Cask or Cask Strength
Non-Peated (or less peated)
One option, if you're buying for a confirmed Scotch drinker, might be to go with something unexpected, yet in the neighborhood; say, a Japanese whisky (e.g., Suntory Yamazaki 12 yr.). That way you're less likely either to duplicate or to guess badly, and you have a better chance of getting a real surprise reaction. (Caveat: a CONFIRMED Scotch drinker may not be amused . . .)
For me, the benchmark is always Highland Park, whose 12 y-o variety ought to be in your price range. I concur with the British golf announcer Renton Laidlaw who stated last year during a broadcast of the Johnnie Walker tournament, ironically enough, that Highland Park was "the best whisky -- goes down like glycerin then explodes in your stomach". I imagine the sponsors were not pleased.
However, in that range there are a number of other good choices -- Longmorn, Dalmore, Laphroig (not for the faint of heart), Glenmorangie in their port wood finish, possibly (depending on the retailer's profit margin) a couple of under-appreciated ones, Old Pulteney and Bunnahabain. If you could find a Bruichladdich or a Lagavulin in that range, grab it -- those are my two favorites in the more expensive category.
re: Greg B
To plagiarize Stefan Gabányi's _Whisk(e)y_ entry for Laphroaig®:
"The most ridiculous substances have been invoked in attempts
to describe the taste of this overpowering whisky; disinfectants,
diesel fuel, tar, seaweed, and Lord knows what else. In vain
I'm afraid, for you simply have to taste it for yourself. You
will either be blown away or you'll never want to touch the
My experience was it opened with an overbearing stench of turpentine-based tar only to finish cudgeling my tongue with day-old seaweed. It should only be used as a disinfectant in hospitals where super-strains are designed.
My five favorite are:
Balvanie 12-yo Double Wood
Auchentoshan Three Wood