I agree with Dale. I have found older distillations of several malts to be far superior to the bottlings of present day. My theory is that with so many distilleries switching to computerized processes to reduce headcount to improve the bottom line, the true crafting of whisky is becoming a dinosaur. We as consumers are paying higher prices with lower quality. Gone are the days that we will experience the one-off single cask with superior quality because the experienced and skillful stillman's touch has been taken out of the equation ( e. g., Glenburgie has a staff of one monitoring the process...note I stated MONITORING, not RUNNING the process ). Still Glenburgie is a good whisky ( I like it as a session dram ), but it is not what it used to be. My hat is off to Springbank as the only computer you will find in the manufacturing process of whisky is a "chalkboard." I do know, as Dale suggested, that the industry has gained immeasurable knowledge in "wood management." I am also grateful for independent bottlers as they have applied these lessons to the point that I think the distilleries have to follow. There is no doubt that OBs are excellent, but there is also no doubt that independent bottlings give OBs a run for their money; especially in the single cask bottlings.
As for impressing your Sunday afternoon gentlemen's gathering, I wouldn't be so concerned. I humbly submit not to get hung up on price and age of malts. I have had excellent 3-year-old malts and crap 20, 30, & 40-year-old malts as well as good and bad NO-AGE-STATEMENT malts. Always keep in mind that old age and high price is not a prerequisite for a "good malt," but old age DOES translate to a higher price but not necessarily a better whisky. I also suggest that one should not confuse the personality of given malts with harshness. All too often people are searching for just SMOOTH whiskies thinking that anything other than smooth is harsh. Many times what is being perceived as harsh is in reality the personality and / or complexity of a whisky. Continue to develop your nose and palate and you will eventually reach the "AH HA" moment where you can truly tell the difference between harshness vs. a malt's personality and / or complexity.
If you don't want to break the bank purchasing malts, try good malty drams as Glenburgie, Tamdhu, Glen Deveron ( MacDuff in independent bottlings ), Tomatin, Glencadam, An Cnoc, and as Dale noted, the young Kilchoman ( pronounced KILL-HOMAN, the "C" is silent ).
Good luck on your endeavors with malts.
Last edited by bkblankenship; 09-08-2012 at 04:37 PM.