Originally Posted by Kent Wang
How important is age? Are there are any 10 years worth drinking? I've been drinking some Speyburn 10 year but it is much less mature than the JW Black that has been my benchmark. I am only beginning my foray into the world of scotch. It's such an expensive hobby that I'm afraid to but dip my toes in the waters.
Honestly, in my book age is merely a characteristic, another variable in taste, and in no way a direct determinate of quality. However, I will note in answer to your question, that I have not met a 10yo whisky that I really like - not Speyburn, not Tormore, nor that other one (brain drain). Age does increase the amount of congeners as well as the effects of the type of barrel upon the taste (i.e. bourbon, sherry, port, and rarely, rum). And though I have no empirical evidence, one has to think that the angels' share is larger due to concentration upon evaporation. I find Macallan 12 is a complex, wonderful Speyside whisky, and Macallan 18 is even better. Caol Ila 12 is excellent, and the older experessions just don't do it for me. Same, generally, with Balvenie -- they get dull or too husky on me if they get too old. May have something to do with the conditions where the whisky aged. If JW Black is your benchmark (kudos, I might add, it is my standard as well) you might want to try a shot of JW Blue -- I think it is in the ~30yr vicinity. It ranges from $18 - $50 a shot, mind you. BTW, if you like JWB, it is nice to know that it has mainly Speysides and Islays in the blend, so you might want to make your early forays into those regions. Islays are bigger on the smokey peaty notes (Laphroig must be the apotheosis of peat), while Spesides are lighter, and have more of the caramely things going on that aren't obscured by the peat. Some suggestions: Speyside: Cragganmore, Macallan. Islay: Bowmore 12, and especially Lagavulin 16. I know there is a good deal of Caol Ila and Cardhu in JWB, BTW. ~ Huntsman Edit: My words I must eat -- Talisker is a 10yo. But it is an anomaly.