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Help! -- I need a liquor store!

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I didn't really know where else to go to post this so I hope I can get some good answers! Tomorrow is my 28th birthday. Who cares about that. The bigger event is that tomorrow my wife and I (well, technically just my wife) are having an ultrasound and will be finding out the gender of our baby. Soooo, being a neophyte when it comes to scotch/whiskey I thought I would open it up to all of you to find 1) what is the difference between scotch/whiskey, 2) which is "better", and 3) where can I go in Boston (I live in Rozzie) to find a good bottle of something that won't cost me the yet-to-be-born kid's college tuition and the people won't make me feel like an idiot for being an idiot about this stuff.

Is this too tall an order?

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  1. Scotch is a *type* of whiskey, as I understand it (and I'm no whiskey expert by any means).

    So.... scotch is to whiskey as lager is to beer....as Merlot is to wine.. Capisce?

    Can't help with you finding a packie in Rozzie but others will chime in I'm sure.

    Congratulations, and make sure there's only root beer in Mom's glass.

    1. Atlas is a pretty good medium of selection of bourbon, single malts, a few ryes or two, and blendeds. Your questions about the difference are better either for the spirits board or the shop ("better" is a matter of taste). At least in Medford the Atlas is pretty good overall for explanations and they don't have any issues with neophyte's. Liquor Land in the South End is very close to closing (again), but has the best overall selection, but if you are in Roslindale, I would try Atlas.

      1. both Macy's and Blanchard's on Centre st. in W. Rox have decent selections.

        1. Gary's Liquors on the VFW has a very good selection of Single Malt Scotch if that is what you are looking for. Other than there, Macy's is ok. The staff at Macy's is Aces

          1. If you're not a big whiskey drinker, I'd get a nice bottle of bourbon. Cheaper than a nice bottle of scotch and easier to drink. Try Woodford Reserve or Buffalo Trace.

            1. Recommended whiskey's that won't break the bank:

              Tomatin Scotch $24 a bottle (poor man's Lagavullian, big smokey beast).

              Jim Beam Black Label, The most underappreciated bourbon around. Knob Creek (which Jim Beam makes) for half the price. I just picked up a 1.75L on sale for $30.

              Old Overholt Rye (nee old overcoat) Old school, great taste, an american classic $14 a bottle.

              Plain Old regular "Jim Beam Bourbon" white label. Tasty, an american classic. Sometimes you can find a 750ml bottle for $10. Recently saw the 1.75L for 19.99.

              Or you could splurge $65 on a bottle of Lagavullin Scotch. The big smokey beast itself. In a class by itself.

              Also either the bourbon or the rye will make a mean Manhattan.

              1 Reply
              1. re: StriperGuy

                Not sure I'd recommend Lagavulin for a newbie. I've been drinking single malts for decades and one sip of that stuff still makes me feel like I've been upholstered in leather. He might be better off starting with Glenmorangie or Highland Park.

              2. Spirits are always a matter of personal taste.
                This is a huge event for the two of you and I would suggest NOT buying a random bottle of scotch because you think it is the right thing to do since Whisky is a very acquired taste (do NOT buy the Lagavulin per StriperGuy's rec's unless you want to drink what will taste to you like cigar smoke) -
                Rather, buy something you know you will like. If you are a wine drinker, buy a bottle you have always wanted to try. If another spirit is something you regularly drink (Rum, Tequila, whatever), buy yourself a bottle in a higher price point than you normally indulge in. And if you really want to be sentimental about the whole thing, have just a sip now, and save the bottle for the very special moments in your child's life, having a sip here or there as the moment dictates. Fine spirits will keep just fine.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cork

                  While Cork has an excellent point, I would just like to second itaunas' recommendation for Atlas liquors. The staff and owners are very well informed about whiskey in general and they have a great single malt selection. But you really should select something that you are comfortable with. Maybe something new so that your celebration will be memorable, but not necessarily something so over the top that you remember this truly wonderful event as "The day I drank _________ and will never drink it again."

                  1. re: Cork

                    I LOVE Lagavulin. That being said, if it was my first sip of Scotch whiskey(whiskey made in Scotland, Islay to be precise. Adhered to stamdards) I may not like Scotch as much as I do.
                    Try to find the 4 pack with Oban, Lagavulin, and a couple others and try vertically.

                  2. I am overwhelmed by suggestions! I think I will try Atlas because I live just a few blocks from Hyde Park Ave and I know there is an Atlas there. As for scotch v. whiskey and which is "better," I realize that most of food and drink is taste driven. I have spent hours of my life debating coffee...its all subjective, I get that. But what is the difference between the two? I drink primarily wine, I don't drink too much hard liquor but have had a sip or two of single malt. Didn't mind it. Given that this is our first child I thought it would be a fitting to try a first of something else.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: apm

                      If you don't mind the short travel Dorr's liquors in Brighton Center has a great selection and the best prices around. Ask for skip. Good luck and Congrats!

                      1. re: Northstar22

                        There is no way that Dorr's compete's with Atlas or any of the following on selection and I would suspect not on price...:

                        - Any Marty's location (though in Newton they are snobs)
                        - Any Kappy's location
                        - Any Blanchards location
                        - Any Martignetti's location
                        - The wine place next to Whole Foods at Fresh Pond
                        - Gordon's in Waltham

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          "The wine place next to Whole Foods at Fresh Pond" a.k.a. Mall Discount Liquors a.k.a. Cambridge Wine & Spirits. I like this place.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            striperguy i take it that you have never shopped at dorr's? not only do they compete with the list you provided , they beat them consistently in price, service and knowledge.

                            1. re: Northstar22

                              If it is the place I am thinking of, it is very nice new (polished wood etc) looking place, but just not that big... Heading out towards Oak Square on the right hand side on Washington Street.

                              I remember going in and going. "Huh, pretty wine store, decent selection, happy to have this in my neighborhood." But also thinking "Not huge, not one of the major wine/liquor stores." If there is another wine store on that block or so of Washington smack in the center, then I got it wrong, otherwise I stand by my comments. Nice wine store, but just plain not THAT big.

                              Heck I'll stop in again next time I am there...

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              Re Marty's of Newton. The only snobbery I've ever encountered there was from the clientele, not the staff. In fact I've found the staff at martignetti's of Brighton to be more snobbish. They're both good stores though.

                              Gordon's also has opened an additional location in Watertown near the Newton line, just off Galen street near the river.

                          2. re: apm

                            You also should consider Irish Whiskey. Jameson's not Bushmill's IMHO. Plus you can use it to make Irish coffee for those friends who find any type of whiskey a bit stronger than they like.

                            1. re: ginnyhw

                              I'm with you, ginny. And to make it extra special try the sublime Jameson 12-Year Irish Whiskey.

                              Congrats apm!

                            2. re: apm

                              apm- please head over to our "Spirits" board at http://www.chowhound.com/boards/36 to ask about the difference and ask for specific brand recommendations. Such discussions are off topic here- we try to keep this board narrowly focused on where to find chow/food products in the Boston area. We have a really knowledgeable group of hounds on the Spirits board and the recommendations shared on that board will help lots more people than they will here.

                              Hounds, thanks for your generosity in making brand recommendations here, but please head to the Spirits board for any further discussion of that topic. We hope you'll continue to offer recommendations for local liquor stores here on this thread. Thanks!

                            3. Congratulations! How about a Balvenie 3 pack of aged Scotches (12yr, 15yr, 21yr) that you drink in reverse order? It's much cheaper than buying a whole bottle of Balvenie. I've bought them at Davis Square Liquors and Marty's.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: gini

                                Just to bring this back to our chow topic, I would put myself in the hands of an uber-capable bartender at an upscale restaurant --like Jackson at Eastern Standard-- and explain the problem. Ask him for a "flight" of scotches (little sips) so you can pick a favorite with your eyes open instead of closed. Someday your child will love the story of how you picked that old bottle of scotch on the very top shelf of your kitchen, all covered with dust. Best of luck!

                                1. re: SSqwerty

                                  Excellent idea SSqwerty!! and while Jackson is incredible, all the bartenders (under his tutelage of course) are excellent at ES.

                                  I have been drinking scotch for so long I forget about the flights that some bars now offer.

                                  Let us know about your decision and what flavor kid you guys are getting!