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Stevep84
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 7:31 pm    Post subject: Some help please! Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm new to the forum and I'm very much a newbie where whisky is concerned! I have mainly been drinking blended whiskies like Jack Daniels etc. However I would like to start expanding my tastes a little.

So I was looking for some help from anyone kind enough to spare me some time! Should I continue with the blended whiskies but go a little more up market like Johnny Walker or Chivas Regal? Or if I am to venture into the world of single malts, I've done a bit of research and I've read that good starter single malts would be bottles like glenfiddich 12yr, dalwinnie 15yr or an Auchentoshan?

From what I've read, sometimes blended whiskies are looked down upon as being sort of league 1, whereas the single malt is more premier league? Anyway, any advice would be be very welcome and I hope I haven't embarrassed myself with my lack of knowledge 😂

Thanks in advance

Steve
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opelfruit
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum.

Firstly, JD is a Bourbon, which whilst it could be classified as a "blended" whisky, it actually adheres to much stricter production and labeling guidelines than a blended Scotch....and the the flavour profile is very, very different to your blended Scotches.


That aside;

You need to understand what a single malt is and what a blended whisky is.

A single malt scotch is a whisky produced solely from malted barley, at 1 distillery, in a copper pot still, matured in oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of 3 years and 1 day and cannot have any additives other than water and e150a (colouring).

A blended scotch is a blend of whiskies from different distilleries, can be malted barley blended with grain whisky (often distilled from corn in column stills - basically a vodka!), matured in oak casks in Scotland for 3 years and a day. Blends can contain dozens of different whiskies and often have a core malt and filled out with grain - which is industrial, cheap and pretty rough.

Any age statement on any bottle of Scotch must be the age of the youngest whisky in the blend, so it says "12" and may be 30% 12 year old and 70% 20 year old (unlikely but possible)


The boundaries of "quality" have muddied somewhat over the last few years, with some fantastic blends being produced (mainly by Independant bottling companies) and some very below average single malts (mainly by Official distilleries).


Basically, age statements are being removed from a lot of single malts, which means that young (no younger than 3 years though) malt whisky is being put into bottles. It's rough, it lacks character and it's basically tosh.

On the flip side, age statements are being added to blends, meaning you get a minimum of said age in the bottle, often older whisky included. Better cask selection and smaller batch production and a blend where the components compliment each other and produce a whole better than its parts.


You can do a lot worse than getting premium blends. However, due to the price of these it may be better to get some entry level single malts, such as the ones you have mentioned, as they will be a similar price.

I'd suggest maybe going online and getting a sample pack from MasterOfmalt - if you spend £30-£40 on samples from various blends and malts then you'll get a good idea of what you like. The same price would buy you 1 bottle of malt, and if you dont like it then its a waste.
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Stevep84
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you so much for your advice, excuse my ignorance regarding JD, now you know why I need some help! Knowing more about how they're made is very useful!

I shall take it all on board and get trying some different options 👍🏻
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Quaich1
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I applaud Opelfruit's explanation regarding the various whiskies from Scotland. Clear and well-done!
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opelfruit
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

another thing worth adding, is that most punters believe that a bottle of single malt, at say 12 years old, is whisky that has sat in the cask for 12 years and then been bottled. That's not the case.

Single malts are actually blended single malts. So 1 distillery take a load of cask, lets say 200 cask in a batch or arguments sake, and vats them all together to produce X number of bottles. Of those casks, there will be various different ages and qualities of spirit, the idea is that they blend out any duff casks and not so great whisky based on the law of averages, to get an overall taste profile in the end product that they then bottle. Doing this allows distilleries to keep a consistent flavour profile for a particular expression they produce, batch at a time.

A bottle of run-of-the-mill single malt is not going to be the produce of a single cask of whisky Smile


You can buy single casks. They are a great place to go to when you've got more experience and know what you like, as they can be very polarizing (they have nowhere to hide).


Whisky is really complicated! You'll no doubt discover this over time. Each distillery has their own style and within that house style they put out many different bottles, which match a certain flavour profile. Flavour of a whisky comes from;

*the type of cask used
*the size of cask used
*the level of charring/toasting on the casks
*how many times the casks have been used
*the location in the warehouse that it's matured
*the length of maturation
*any cask swapping (moving whisky from 1 type of cask to another, sherry and bourbon etc)
*the way the whisky is distilled - length of fermentation, type of barley used, points of the cut of the distillate (most of the distillate is not usable for making whisky), shape of the stills, the abv it's distilled to, the abv the casks are filled at, the way the stills are heated, the way the distillate is condensed......and the list goes on.

.....loads more I can't think about.


No 2 whiskies taste the same Smile


Happy exploring!
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Stevep84
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right it is complicated haha! But I guess the fun is trying lots and discovering which ones I like? On my way home tonight I've picked up a Auchentoshan so going to give that a test drive tonight and see how I go from there!!

Thanks so much again for the in depth explanation, I tried another forum with the same question and got a very terse response being accused of being on a windup! (They obviously don't like newbies!) So your time and knowledge is greatly appreciated
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opelfruit
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No problem, happy to help. I think I know the forum you mean. This bunch are a good bunch and friendly, any questions just ask as it can be a bit of a minefield.

The Auchentoshen is triple distilled so is a lighter bodied spirit. You may find it a bit wishy washy (unless it's the three wood, which is very robust due to the casks). See how you go with it, if it's not your cup of tea then you can go for something like a Balvenie 12yo doublewood or an Aberlour 12yo which are both sherry matured and fruity Speyside whiskies. The Dalwhinnie 15yo is a real gem is you find it.
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Last edited by opelfruit on Thu Jun 01, 2017 6:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Darwin
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Opalfruit! Wink
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Xosder
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

opelfruit wrote:
Firstly, JD is a Bourbon


Making this statement might get you shot in Memphis...

While technically accurate, theyve enacted laws to define and protect the designation of "Tennessee Whiskey" vs ordinary boubon.
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opelfruit
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xosder wrote:
opelfruit wrote:
Firstly, JD is a Bourbon


Making this statement might get you shot in Memphis...

While technically accurate, theyve enacted laws to define and protect the designation of "Tennessee Whiskey" vs ordinary boubon.




Still a Bourbon though Wink
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Alexppp
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Opelfruit is making things unnecessarily complicated Razz Just get a Balvenie 12 Doublewood, Glenfiddich 15 Solera, Dalwhinnie 15, Glengoyne 12 or Glenmorangie 10 and enjoy!

Also, there's no reason why you should stick to the more delicately flavoured whiskies - for a more robust profile, you can try Highland Park 12, Springbank 10, Talisker 10 or Laphroaig 10 and see how that goes.
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Bookie
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Alexppp advice, get a hold of a few bottles. Drinking malt whisky is all about pleasure and enjoyment, find the style you enjoy and move on from there and as Alexppp says there is no need to avoid the more robust profile whiskies.

Also look out for any tasting events in your area. You can usually sample whiskies before you buy in specialist whisky shops. You may also find that local bars sell a selection of single malts enabling you to sample a few before forking out on full size bottles.
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Stevep84
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again all valuable advice, thanks very much folks! I've tried the auchentoshan and it was nice....might need a few more tries to be doubly sure 😉. I've mainly been drinking bourbons until now so it was quite a change but certainly pleasant! I just don't want to get too many in and confuse myself with which ones I like best! But Father's Day is coming up so I'll casually mention some of the aforementioned options to he wife 😂

Tastings sounds a great idea, definitely going to give that a go!

I was chatting to a guy at work today and he recommended monkeys shoulder (a blended malt I believe?) again for beginners? I appreciate that you guys are obviously are past this point but has anyone tried it?
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bluepeter
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stevep84 wrote:
I was chatting to a guy at work today and he recommended monkeys shoulder (a blended malt I believe?) again for beginners? I appreciate that you guys are obviously are past this point but has anyone tried it?


Actually, it's Monkey Shoulder (singular). Yes, it is a blended malt. As it happens, I opened a bottle last week. Good stuff - smooth, quite rich.

Opelfruit suggested that you get a sample pack from MasterOfMalt. That sounds like a good idea. My own version of that was to get miniatures of a range of single malts from The Whisky Exchange. They stock quite a range, allowing you to compare one distillery's product with another's, or several expressions from single distilleries. You might get half a dozen or so, and then go back for some more when you've finished the first batch. It's not cheap, but it's a lot cheaper than buying a whole bottle just to taste it.

You might also think about participating in the Whisky Sample Exchange. Look for that title a bit further down the Forum Index. A few of us have posted lists of the bottles that we have, and swap samples with one another. We'd welcome another participant.

Stevep84 wrote:
I just don't want to get too many in and confuse myself with which ones I like best!


You might think about keeping some sort of a record of what you've tried and what you thought of it. This might be anything from detailed tasting notes to a spreadsheet with just a few words for each entry.
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arqueturus
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stevep84 wrote:
Again all valuable advice, thanks very much folks! I've tried the auchentoshan and it was nice....might need a few more tries to be doubly sure 😉. I've mainly been drinking bourbons until now so it was quite a change but certainly pleasant! I just don't want to get too many in and confuse myself with which ones I like best! But Father's Day is coming up so I'll casually mention some of the aforementioned options to he wife 😂

Tastings sounds a great idea, definitely going to give that a go!

I was chatting to a guy at work today and he recommended monkeys shoulder (a blended malt I believe?) again for beginners? I appreciate that you guys are obviously are past this point but has anyone tried it?


Monkey Shoulder was my gateway Whisky and is lovely. Its a vatted Malt which means it's a blend of Single Malts with no grain Whisky at all. Iirc they're all from Glenfiddich/Balvenie distilleries as these are under the same ownership and next to each other.
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