Hi all, first post.
A quick bit about me (figured it was almost mandatory, as so many responses to questions begin with "If you'd tell us what you've enjoyed so far...").
Have enjoyed Single malts and blends sparingly for a couple of decades but seldom more than in small spurts here and there, as time and $$ rather prohibited it. I'm not much of a daily drinker, usually enjoying a dram or two a week, and will nurse a small glass of single malt for upwards of two hours. My usual choice (going back 2 decades, lazyness here) was to just grab a bottle of Glenlivet or Glenfiddich because it was readily available and reasonably priced. There would be the odd splurge in there, a bottle of Laphroaig or some Speyside I'd buy on a whim. I'd tried to convince myself that I liked the Speysides but truth is I usually tired of them before I'd finish out the bottle, which may have had a lot to do with my not returning to single malt again for some months. The softer mellower notes that I liked the first few drams simply began to bore me before too long.
The Laphroaig, however, was the complete opposite. It is huge, immense, and by the time I'd come near the end of the bottle I'd need a break because it was such a demanding drink!
Coming forward to present, after a couple of years of not drinking at all my wife gave me a bottle of Speyburn (Gee, thanks- forced smile). It wasn't terribly good of course but there again was that recognition of finding the thing interesting for only a few drams. So, I went out and bought a bottle of Laphroaig 10 year and a bottle of Ardbeg 10 year (!!!). I've been thrilled with these! Yes, they are big and bold and demanding, which brings me (finally) to my question. What next?
I'm hoping to find something that splits the difference. I love the character of the big Islays but would like something that is toned down a wee bit without being too soft, yet has some of the softer characteristics that a Speyside offers. And yes, I know that my opinion of Speysides may simply be my limited experience with them. I'm focusing on 10 and 12 year old whiskeys in the $35-$50 range. I'm considering the following, and solicit your opinions of these and/or your reccomendations.
Aberlour 12 year
Bruichladdich - The Laddie 10 (if I can find it)
Glenflarclas 10 year
Glenmorangie The Original
Highland Park 12 year
Springbank 10 year
Thanks for any help.
The Highland Park is a nice mix of smoke and sweet without peat. You would probably like it. Look for the cask strength Springbank. You will almost certainly like it. Sweet, briney, smoke, peat, minerals, yum! It's all there for well under $100.:o The 10 is no slouch and is a great value and very complex for a 10 yr old.
There is also a Liang Double Barrel with Highland Park and Laphroaig. It's good. :)
Well, I was out and about this afternoon and figured what the heck, and drove over to Bevmo to have a look. Found a good selection and it was a tough choice, but came home with Springbank 10 year and Aberlour 12 year. I definitely knew I wanted the Springbank but the second bottle was a tough choice, as there were so many to choose from. The one other bottle I really wanted was the Laddie 10 but they don't have it, seems nobody in town does, so I figured I'd give the Speysides another fair shake. As I said before, I keep going back to the same couple of Speysiders, not a fair representation, and figured a couple more higher quality offerings and I'd be able to have a good grip on the genre. It was a toss up between the Aberlour and Macallan. The Aberlour 12 is extremely smooth, fruity, soft but giving a bitmof heat on the finish. It's good but I like the Springbank a lot more. Funny, but I thought maybe I didn't have a good grip on Speyside whisky having spent most of my time with Glenlivet, but from the first sip I knew Aberlour was a Speyside. Guess I knew all along. It's good, and I'll definitely slowly enjoy the bottle before making any assumptions.
This Springbank is a completely different animal! I'll wait to enjoy a few more glases before making any proclamations but I may have hit the nail on the head as far as a whiskey with characteristics of both Islay and Speyside. This is pretty unique stuff.
Hi Jim, and welcome. The outlier on your list is the Glenmorangie; this is a distinctly light whisky among some broader-shouldered brethren. That said, it is a good list. You might also find it worthwhile to explore Glenrothes, Dalwhinnie, and Talisker.
And my two cents... Springbank and Highland Park are absolute musts. Likewise, there are many slightly peated to more heavily peated whiskies that aren't as big in medicinal/iodine notes but are on the smoky side, some less so, but I'd think they would be quite appealing due to their complexities and, hence, keep you engaged. A couple that come to mind are the Benromach 10, Benriach Curiositas Peat, Talisker Distiller's Edition bottlings, Glenturret, Edradour's Ballechin bottlings and Glenmorangie's La Santa bottling. Of these, I'm particularly fond of Benromach and Glenturret.
Another beefy whisky, but not peated, is Mortlach; it's surely a strangely produced bu complex Speyside dram. Along these lines, Glenfarclas and Longmorn always hold my attention. Single cask Longmorns from a couple independent bottlers are currently, and albeit quickly, disappearing from my current selections.
Of course, one thing you might consider is having more than one whisky open at a time. It allows you to pick from a range of whatever you happen to be in the mood for - something that may keep you more engaged and not tiring of one thing or another.
Thanks for the replies so far guys. I presently do have 5 bottles open, going back and forth, but not mixing them in one evening (one per night). Presently opened are the Ardbeg and Laphroaig 10 year versions, the Springbank 10, Aberlour 12 and Glenmorangie Original.
Finding that I really like the Aberlour the more I drink it. Sweet, flavorful, complex, even the finish is amazing. Better than any other Speyside I've had yet, and not at all boring. The Glenmorangie is similar (to me) in that it's fruity and sweet, wonderfully aromatic on the nose, but is softer than the Aberlour. Still an excellent dram for the dollar! I plan on putting a few bottles of this away as it's very affordable ($30 US).
The Springbank is turning out to be quite interesting. Nothing like the previous two of course, but bolder and aromatic in an herbal, almost medicinal smoky way rather than the soft fruits and spices of the Aberlour and Glenmorangie. It's a great whisky and I'm enjoying makng my way through the bottle, learning about my nose and palate as I go (this one is a real education compared to the softer fruitier malts).
The Laphroaig and Ardbeg speak for themselves! They are monsters, and I love them. A bottle of Lagavuin 16 is on my short list now, seems my Islay representation is missing the Big Dog (!). Also thinking about springing for a bottle of Aberlour A'bunadh, and Highland Park will be grabbed up on my next trip to the bottle store.
Onward and upward!
Oh how fun! I love trying new things! Let's see, Highland Park and Talisker come immediately to mind, as does Bunnahabain. These are the "mid-range" whiskies, combining the excitement of the Islays with the smoothness of the Speysiders.
Glenmorangie is completely dull for me until you get up into the higher dollar offerings. Same for Glenfarclas. I absolutely LOVE the 15yr, but the younger offerings are just dull. Too soft, and too...boring. Like Glenlivet 12yr and Glennfiddich 12yr.
I just picked up a bottle of Glenfarclas 17yr (as I have been told it is similar to the 15yr, but available in the US). I am sipping a dram now. While I agree with the assessment, I think I will need to do a blind taste test to see if I can ACTUALLY pick out the winner. I THINK I can (the 15yr), but I want to be sure...
I am a BIG Aberlour fan. The 12yr is one of the best values out there. However, the 16yr is where Aberlour really shines (layers of spice on top of the sherry). It is still a good value for what you are getting.
I gave away a bottle of Bowmore Legend, it was so bad... It was still 3/4ths full.
I think you need to try Bunnahabhain. It is a great value and the perfect profile for what you are describing.
Oh, and Ardbeg Uigedeal is incredible. It has all the power of Lagavulin, but with a mild sweetness. Fantastic stuff.
Of course, Highland Park 18yr and up is the stuff of legends. The 12yr leaves a lot to be desired after you have tasted the 18yr.
Another to definitely try is the Yamazaki 12, which is now available here, for less than it is in Japan.
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