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Mar 28, 2008 11:53 AM

Interesting Scotch Recommendations

I do not like scotch, but am working on building up my husband's scotch collection, and his birthday is coming up.

So far I've bought:

Bruichladdich 15 y/o (thus far, his favorite)
Longmorn 15 y/o
Compass Box Hedonism
The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 y/o or Double Wood (it went away so fast I can't remember which one it was)

I've heard him say that he doesn't like Laphroaig (something about tasting of band-aids, it's probably the peat?)

He has mentioned that he wants a bottle of The Balvenie Portwood, but I'm debating on buying him some he's never tried before.

Doesn't anyone have any recommendations on intereresting scotches that might complement his existing collection? Is there anything new and interesting?

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    1. re: ed1066

      I'll have to give an amen to that proposal. I like Glengoyne 17, which is relatively inexpensive for its quality. As to the woode scotches, Glemorangie has quite a wide array of flavors, of which the Madeira is my favorite. Another staple of my cabinet is Springbank, a Campbelltown smoothie. As a represetative of the pure Highlands, dalwhinnie is a floral heathery pleasure. Get them all and watch his face light up.

    2. How much are you willing to spend.

      You could look for a bottle of Highland Park Bicentenary.

      On the lower price range the 12 yo Highland Park is quite good.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Scott M

        I don't know...probably under $200. If I find two interesting bottles that can both share space in that price range, I'll buy both.

        Have you had the Highland Park Bicentenary? What's it like?

        Just so you all know, I didn't buy ALL of them for this particular birthday, they get spread out over the gift-giving holidays....

        1. re: jazzy77

          Yes, I have had it several times. When it was first released it was around $100 a bottle but that was probably 10 years ago. Not sure what it goes for now. It has a very long lingering finish. Flavors of orange zest, chocolate, honey, with a creamy mouth feel. There is a smoky peatiness component but nothing like the Laphroaig. The Laphroaig tends to be a very medicinal tasting scotch.

          1. re: Scott M

            Ooh, I have got to try that Scott. I love the Highland Park 12, but don't care too much for the 15 and 18. How does it compare?

            On topic, I would second recommendations and suggest:
            Highland Park 12
            Glenrothes 1991
            Bruichladdich 12 and Bunnahabhain 12 (two non - peaty Islay scotches)
            Bruichladdich Yellow Submarine (very different from the 12 - still not overly peaty
            Caol Ila 12 (smoky but not overly peaty)

            CA Scotch Chick

            1. re: CA Scotch Chick

              If he likes the Bruichladdich then definitely go with the Bunnahabhain. I also recommend Highland Park 12 and as an introduction to some peat the Caol Ila.

              Not a scotch but definitley worthy of drinking is Woodford Reserve. It's bourbon but it's beautiful bourbon.

      2. Based on the samples you give, I'd suggest something from one of these distilleries:

        Old Pulteney

        38 Replies
        1. re: sku

          Ditto on the Glenrothes. I was a Bruichladdach girl, then my boss (at a former job, alas) gave me a bottle of Glenrothes as a present. I love love love the stuff. Sadly, I no longer work for this boss, but we're life-long friends (of course).

          Sku's other recommendations sounds good, too - I gotta try them.

          What a nice wife you are to buy good Scotch for your husband! My husband isn't a drinker - I do the drinking in the family - but he's never bought me any scotch. Luckily, he has other good characteristics (like the tendency to give me Charbay Grapefruit Vodka as a present).


            1. re: AnneInMpls

              I third or fourth the 'rothes! Yum!

              Additionally, I like the McCallan-15 if you can find it - better than 12, less expensive than the 18....

              And for an everyday drink, the Dalmore Cigar Malt is surprisingly good for its price.....

              Laphroaig was introduced to me with the description as having the taste of "wet band-aids". :-)

              I like Talisker, but did not like Lagavulin.

              Also like the Balvenie Double Wood.

              1. re: smalt

                Have you Glenrothes fans tried Highland Park 12? I always think Glenrothes is my favorite until I get to have Highland Park 12 again. It is has all the smoothness of Glenrothes with a buttery/butterscotch palate.

                CA Scotch Chick

                1. re: CA Scotch Chick

                  Thanks for the tip, CA SC! Will snag a bottle next trip out to stock the supply....

                  1. re: CA Scotch Chick

                    Interesting; I just bought a bottle of the Highland Park 12, and am drinking some now. It strikes me as lighter than the Glenrothes, a very good Scotch in its way, but I think I prefer the density and mouth-filling quality of the Glenrothes. Just personal preference. Some folks have told me the HP to try is the 18 y.o., but I haven't had the nerve to pony up the cash for it.

                    1. re: comestible

                      I'm going to have to try these two side by side sometime. CA Scotch Chick and I will be cracking open three different Glen Rothes over the 4th of July weekend. I think I'll pick up a HP now too.

                      Comestible---is there anywhere you can order just a finger or two of HP 15 or 18? CA Scotch Chick has had both and actually prefers the 12. Just thought I would suggest that before you shell out the $.

                      DC Scotch Chick

                      1. re: dcscotchchick

                        scotchchicks: which 3 years of 'rothes will you have, if i may ask? i have an '89 open and a '93 waiting...and a collector bottling of unremembered vintage around here somewhere....

                        1. re: smalt

                          Ooh. Sounds yummy. Our three way will be the 1991, the 1994 Signatory Unchillfiltered, and the Select Reserve.

                          CA Scotch Chick

                          1. re: CA Scotch Chick

                            I bought a bottle of the Glenrothes Select Reserve, my familiar fave, and tasted it tonight against the Highland Park 12. They are both fine scotches, I think. The Highland Park hits the soprano and alto notes, the Glenrothes is more alto and baritone (does that make any sense?) <grin> Both are fruity/vanilla and complex to my mind. It was a pretty unsophisticated tasting though; no water added and no palate cleansers. My shop had the 1991 GR, but it was almost twice the price of the SR.

                            DC -- I don't know where to order a finger or two of the HP 15 or 18. Purportedly, there are bars here in NYC where you can do that...but I haven't kept up with these esoteric scotch-friendly establishments.

                            We have sources here for good scotch at good prices (sometimes). Warehouse Wine & Spirits in NYC has Glenrothes SR at $29.95 and HP 12 at $34.95. Bayway Liquors in Elizabeth, NJ had a heady, peaty Ardbeg 10 for only around $30 - 35. Splendid.

                            1. re: comestible

                              Keens near Herald Square has Highland Park 15 ($15) and 18 ($16). Keens is at 72 W. 36th Street. Their site has a map.

                              I just had the privilege of sampling all their scotch flights. Working on getting their full scotch menu up on our site but the picture is so large, I'm having trouble getting it to load. If you opt for a flight and can't afford to splurge on the Rockefeller, go for the Great Scotts. For just 8 dollars more than the next flight down, you get some really fine scotches.

                              I only made it to Keens, but when I was researching the trip I discovered that the other excellent scotch sampling places in NYC were the Brandy Library, St. Andrews, Club Macanudo (cigars too - no sneakers), Lexington Bar and Books (full blown dress code), Hudson Bar and Books, and D.B.A.

                              Thanks for sharing your awesome tasting notes, and yes, the alto v baritone makes perfect sense.

                              Also thanks for the Warehouse Wine and Spirits tip. Is it a big bin store? We are doing a piece on them, and we're lookin' for tips in all the cities.

                              One more thing, if you like Arbeg 10, have your tried Caol Ila?

                              CA Scotch Chick

                              1. re: CA Scotch Chick

                                I loved your analogy comstible! Let us know if you make it to any of the places CA Scotch Chick mentioned. I may be making a trip up that way soon and would love any recommendations.

                                1. re: dcscotchchick

                                  Thanks, DC and LA scotchchicks! I'm not at my home computer just now, but no, I haven't been to the NYC tasting places, but I appreciate the recommendations! I'll check them out.

                                  Warehouse is a large liquor store on Broadway near 8th Street. Some writers on Chowhound have found some of the wine offerings substandard, but the liquors good. Certainly good prices, I think.

                                  No, I've not tried Caol Ila, I'll look for it if you recommend it!

                                  Keens sounds like a steakhouse (If I've googled the right place) with, I assume, a nice scotch-friendly bar. I have heard of D.B.A. -- since they're way downtown they're probably a little less costly.

                                  Cheers all!

                                  1. re: comestible

                                    Thanks for the Warehouse liquor lead. It is now on my list.

                                    Keens doesn't list their extensive scotch list on their website - a silly oversight. It is huge - over 250 whiskys.

                                    CA Scotch Chick

                            2. re: CA Scotch Chick

                              Alert, alert alert! Found a Glenrothes sampler in a nearby WA liquor store today - '85, '91, and select reserve in miniature versions of the 'rothes round number of this packaging, no doubt....Glad I spotted it, there weren't many left!

                              1. re: smalt

                                I would love to have gotten one of those for tasting purposes!

                                I'm in the DC area.

                                1. re: nissenpa

                                  I haven't cracked mine open, still admiring 'em... :-) i did find that my open bottle of 'rothes is an '85, i'm somewhat surprised to see i still have an '85, to be honest. but oh is it so smooth and better than i remembered! i have not yet had the select reserve, but have had the other two before.

                                  check around, nissenpa, mine were found in the "other" washington on the west coast..... good luck!

                                  1. re: smalt

                                    The '85 is delightful but the larger bottle is kinda spendy if you can find it.
                                    The '91 is a staple around our house, butterscotchy goodness.
                                    My husband says the Select Reserve would make a nice cooking Scotch.

                                    1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                      A drop of water improved the Select Reserve immensely...

                                  2. re: nissenpa

                                    If you haven't been to the Round Robin bar at the Willard, I highly recommend it. Great Scotch collection.

                                  3. re: smalt

                                    wow.. mini glenrothes bottles? as much as i love the whisky itslef i would love to have a few of the minis.

                                    i would agree with some other posters here that are suggesting other islays (even though he doesn't like laphroaig) and suggest bowmore darkest if you can find it. a sherry cask aged islay that tends to soften those hard, peaty edges. and for a real splurge, bowmore black. but it is a real splurge.
                                    ardbeg (my all time favorite) makes a sherry cask aged whiskey called Uigeadail which is not so common either but excellent. quite different form it's usual leaner style as a result of more sherry cask aging. as well, if you can find any '74 or '75 Provenance, it's a true collectors item. i actually held onto a bottle for 5-6 years before we had an all elk dinner. mmmm, elk skewers and ardbeg...

                                    1. re: cockscomb

                                      That uigeadail is knock your sox off smokey. Generally if i'm looking for a campfire in my scotch, I reach for any Ardbeg. It's good stuff but not for those weary of peat. Bowmore Darkest is a great rec.

                                      1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                                        you're right.. i always have to throw ardbeg in for reccomendations. it's a fault of mine.

                                        1. re: cockscomb

                                          Although the OP says the aversion is to the medicinal taste of Laphroaig, not the peaty taste. I think these are two very different things. Lagavulin has a nice balance with a good dose of smoke that's not cloying. I think of it as a beefed up Cragganmore- even though it's not from the same region i find this to be another well balanced Malt. And given that the OP's favorite is the Bruchladdich (mild, thin, with a touch of smoke), i think Cragganmore would be a nice compliment to the collection.

                                          1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                                            I've seen a bunch of (naturally) "yeah, Laphroaig sucks" or "yeah, Glenrothes dot dot dot" posts, and some recommendations that include The Macallan.. I've tried only 10 or so Scotches, including a bottle that was a gift to my father-in-law that cost (internet pricing) $500. That one was good, no doubt (can't remember the label). But, contrary to most posters here, I thought The Macallan was so-so, and my favorite thusfar has been a Laphroaig 15! Any recommendations for someone apparently on another plane from the OP's husband, to expand my horizons beyond my current fave, the Laphroaig 15? (note, I came here via google -> -> back, because doesn't allow comments (a non-corporate blog that denies comments? how 2005!). I had wanted to comment on their rum vs. scotch post...)

                                            1. re: yumbrad

                                              The single-malts from the isle of Islay are likely the most distinctive whiskies produced in Scotland. Other brands of single-malts from Islay you might want to try include Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Arberg & Bowmore (which is the least peaty of those four).

                                              Trader Joe's sells a whisky called Finlaggan that is relatively inexpensive ($17 a bottle) and comes from Islay as well. At that price, it is obviously not in the same league as the others.

                                              1. re: DavidT

                                                if you like laphroaig, ardbeg is definitely the way to go. while i love the others mentioned by davidt, lagavulin, caol ila and bowmore have a sweeter component than the other two. if you can find independents of port ellen, try that as well. port ellen continues to do the maltings for a few of the other islays but will be really hard to find any distillery bottlings as they stopped production years ago. i would also suggest going to campbeltown and try springbank or longrow (one of the other wharehouses that springbank intermittently operates)

                                                as much as i am a fan of all the islays, i have found caol ila, lagavulin, and bowmore to be less appreciated by other islay followers who love laphroaig
                                                i think it really is a geographical and a style thing. the southern distilleries in islay are even more distinctive for their medicinal qualities compared to the northerners or those who impart more of the sherry barrel aging on their whiskies.
                                                i do often drink jw black for it's high percentage of caol ila for a less expensive sipper as well

                                                ardbeg 10 is great. the uigedail as i mentioned above is the one ardbeg whisky that is done in sherry so it too has a little richer body than the others.
                                                i have to say that my all time favorite is the provenance from ardbeg bottled at cask strength. unfortunately it is one of those collectors items that will cost a few hundo but ultimatley worth it.. the last time i was at the bar at the peninsula in chicago they offered it (not sure where you are though)

                                            2. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                                              Having drank Leapfrog and Ardbeg I much prefer the Lagavulin 16. Just marvelous. I also cheat by adding a dollop of it to cheap Do-hers and it ends up being better than Johnny Walker Black!

                              2. re: comestible

                                Hey Comestible--I am tasting HP side by side with some GR right now and am now realizing how different they are. CASC and I are finding the HP to be more complex and full than any of the 3 GR we have.

                                Whenever you can try them side by side let us know what you think. You may still disagree but it makes for a fun day!

                                1. re: dcscotchchick

                                  Interesting! I assume your HP is the 12. Well, just tasting the Glenrothes SR against the HP 12, as I described earlier, I thought the Glenrothes was "chewier,", denser mouthfeel, hence my "baritone" description. But I really liked them both and found complexity in both. I certainly am curious about the specific-year Glenrothes and the HP 18 though. I have an unopened SR so I need to find another HP, or even another brand, to taste against it.

                                  1. re: comestible

                                    Correct--our HP was 12.

                                    We just posted our reviews this morning if you'd like to check it out.


                                    1. re: dcscotchchick

                                      Four months later.....

                                      I found a bottle of HP12 and tried it last week....First cut was that I still prefer Glenrothes over HP, my HP felt a little rougher than 'rothes....However...I'm no quitter....I'll set 'em up for a side-by-side one of these nights....perhaps it was my frame of mind....(I haven't yet convinced any of my co-layoffees to open a single malt specialty bar in my neck of the woods!).

                          2. re: AnneInMpls

                            Have you had the Charbay whiskey? It's about $300 a bottle, but what I've read of it is AMAZING...Someday my lotto numbers will come in.

                            1. re: Dave and Stuff

                              I just noticed your question/post. I bought a bottle of the Charbay whiskey last fall, and while it is excellent,I'm not real bullish on it at the pricepoint they have selected. It is a much more complex flavored whiskey than I expected, but lacks a distinctive character that I would expect from a super premium liquor. If you can find someone with a bottle, by all means have a drink and savor it. But I wouldn't recommend springing the 3 billsplus change that they charge. If you are going to spend that kind of money(or actually some less) I'd recommend a bottle of Scott's Selection Single Grain Whisky. It is a Scotch distilled in 1964 and bottled in 2007. Smooth doesn't do it justice and the nose is an incredible blend of toffee, heather, chocolate, peat(soft) honey and a myriad of spices. at $260 it can't really be called a bargain, but it's wonderful and worth it if you can spare the price.

                          3. re: sku

                            Also, thinking more about it, Dalwhinnie and Glenfarclas.

                            1. re: sku

                              I second the Scapa rec above, and also add Tomintoul 16.

                              1. re: tdg

                                I third the Scapa and second the Glenrothes.

                                A nice peaty number (but not medicinal like Laphroaig) is Caol Ila.

                              2. re: sku

                                I second the Glenfarclas 25. No need for ice or water. Nice and neat.

                            2. The Macallan,12 year (but 18 is better). I agree, Laphroaig sucks. But my friend loves it, so it's a matter of taste. Definitely give him The Macallan.

                              24 Replies
                              1. re: slofood

                                Macallan is a good one to have on hand. I also like the Highland Park 12. My husband and our two friends are solely Scotch drinkers and for some reason or other our many Scotch tastings always include a bottle of Woodford Reserve which is a bourbon. We have not had a get together without it in three years.

                                1. re: slofood

                                  laphroaig sucks??? wouldn't it sound a little better if you were to say "i don't like laphroaig"??

                                  1. re: cockscomb

                                    Sucks, rocks, is cool! Very informative and educational. Information I can work with. Not

                                    1. re: cockscomb

                                      Now don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good Islay malt, and Laphroaig definitely makes some tasty ones. But as noted below, some of their bottlings have a particularly distinctive iodine element. Good for those who believe that "if a little's good a lot must be better." But they push the boundaries of palatability, and the uninitiated might might conclude that Laphroaig sucks.

                                      Talisker, on the other hand - if you don't like that, you're just a pussy.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        If you can't drink Ardbeg 10 you're a pussy or wimp. Take you're choice.
                                        Generic Leapfrog 10 is pushing it for many people and I often cut it with something else.
                                        I'm lovin' my Lagavulin 16, as we speak.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          Ardbeg - bring it on. But there was a Lagavulin I tasted about 20 years ago that was reminiscent of a tasty Islay malt that had been infused with Band-Aids and plastic pool toys. Comes a point where each of us decides that discretion is the better part of valor.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            There are a number of edible/drinkable items that turn me off because of my background working with plastics and chemicals, including phenol formaldehyde resins, and anything that smells like burning plastic or taste reminds me of them (think Durian)!
                                            I don't think I would like something like Laphroaig Lp1.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Mistyped - meant Laphroaig, not Lagavulin.

                                            2. re: Scargod

                                              had to laugh at "leapfrog" the nickname, didn't much care for the taste, but that was when i was first starting out that it wasn't handed to me. was given a bottle of lagavulin as a gift and have to admit i did better with the lagavulin than the "leapfrog".

                                              was out with coworkers and friends just the other night...the single maltin' guys at the table did the "i'll have what she's having" a few times was a talisker night....

                                              1. re: smalt

                                                Talisker cannot hold a candle to Lagavulin. It is more like a McCallan than Lagavulin. More Speyside-like to me.

                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                  apologies, did not mean to infer talisker & lagavulin were alike. reference to talisker was purely anecdotal.....

                                                  1. re: smalt

                                                    No prob... I was just commenting... anecdotally. :)

                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                      i was just thinkin'....maybe i was drinkin' when i typed that....a talisker no doubt. although i do have an open bottle of macallan-15 sitting next to the talisker....

                                                      1. re: smalt

                                                        Smart guy. I, too, have another within reach for emergency backup purposes.

                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                          scargod: one of the usually open bottles in my stash is a dalmore cigar malt, but haven't seen any in the state of washington since before christmas. maybe because i turned a lot of my friends on to it. darn! thought they bought them up to make me a christmas gift of them!

                                                          1. re: smalt

                                                            I stopped smoking cigars over eight years ago, though there is the very rare 420 experience. I'll have to try and find some of this. Sounds fascinating and tasty.

                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              as a lagavulin fan, you'll likely be disappointed with the's kind of chocolatey....the beauty of it is that it's one of the less expensive bottles with a satisfying taste that works out great for an "every day" versus an expensive "celebratory" type SM....

                                                              1. re: smalt

                                                                Perhaps, but I did a blind taste test many years ago and I liked Johnny Walker Black over everything else and many were pricey single malts. My tastes have evolved, but JWB is my everyday scotch. I consider it "sweet".

                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                  What's your take on JW Red? (That's my FIL's everyday scotch.) BTW: I don't know why, but I also find JWB "sweet," too; it's absolutely off-putting and I like sherry-casked SMS, like Balvenie's 12 yo.

                                                                  1. re: The Ranger

                                                                    Last year, I did a blind tasting of the very basic blends (JW Red, Chivas, Dewar's, Cutty Sark, J&B) and JW Red came in first by a long way. It's certainly not my favorite, but it easily beat the other competitiors in its price and availability range.


                                                                      1. re: The Ranger

                                                                        i started out on j&b, then moved to chivas.....can't say i've had a jw red....i have had a jw blue, but don't remember it.....

                                                                        1. re: smalt

                                                                          One of my FIL's very best friends is a JW officiando; she loves all their flavors but prefers blue. She's shared JW Blue and JW Gold with us (over "I don't drink alone") and both were enjoyable but nothing I would ever spend money on. Give me a Balvenie, Cardhu, or Auchentoshan.

                                                                          1. re: The Ranger

                                                                            You are comparing Speysides with a more Islay style of scotch in JW. From my experience, very different.
                                                                            I like JWB's style, yet I sometimes add a dab of Laphroag to it.

                                      2. If you want something very unusual, and really good, Linlithgow. Find it in a cask strength version. It is a closed Lowland distillery, most of the cask strengths I've seen come in with elss than 120 proof and are very drinkable neat at that potency. It would take about 3/4 of your budget.

                                        Perhaps I'd also go with a Ben Nevis.

                                        I am not fan of Scapa. It's one fo the last malts I'd buy. For me it left a metallic taste in the back-middle of my tongue, and I did not like it.

                                        If you want some good reviews, look at