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Any One for a Scotch?

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by French Cuff Consignment, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It's a blended whiskey, versus single malt, which is what most of us have been discussing.

    Blended whiskeys are mixes of whiskeys from different distilleries. The advantage of a blend is that you can more easily balance out more extreme characteristics of each individual whiskey. Also, it can be done with exceptional consistency. That's why Johnny Walker Black or Platinum or Blue or whatever always tastes the same.

    A single malt is composed of whiskey from just one distillery. It is harder to balance out extreme characteristics, but enthusiasts would say that this allows for more interesting and expressive whiskey. Still, single malts are "blended" in their own way: the distillery selects different whiskeys from different barrels of different ages to get the desired result.

    Beyond single malt, there is single barrel or single cask. A single cask whiskey is whiskey from exactly one barrel/cask. They tend to be even more hit or miss, as you might imagine.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  2. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Interesting, seems like single malt, or single cask is akin to a wine vintage. How is Johnnie Walker objectively?
     
  3. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Not sure there is an objective answer. Johnnie Walker Blue is excellent quality whiskey. It's just not very interesting to me.
     
  4. cchen

    cchen Senior member

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    Tonight's dram

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    Assuming you're talking about any of the serious Johnnie Walker labels (Blue, Gold, Black) and not the cheap stuff, they're objectively well done for what they are. They're just not all that interesting, certainly for the money. They're one of those whiskies that you drink and says "It's good," and then can't really describe what you liked about it.
     
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  6. brp2

    brp2 Senior member

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    Thought the exact same thing when I had a new bottle of the A'Bunadh recently, so I totally disagree with the 'if you don't like A'Bunadh then maybe whisky isn't for you' sentiment.

    As for the Mac 18, there have been certain years that I've really liked, and others that have just been good. That said -- and much like everyone else here -- there are a bunch of other sherried single malts that are much less expensive that I probably enjoy more than any Mac 18.
     
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  7. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    IMO, JW is aiming for smoothness and consistency. Neither of which are something that I really care about. They're quite similar to cognac bottlers in that they're aiming to repeat the same taste because the taste is their signature.

    That being said, I think JW Gold is a pretty good scotch and more interesting than Blue, neither or which are something I reach for over most single malts.

    I'm not on the Glendronich wagon, too heavy on the sherry for my taste.

    Aberlour is damned good, but not in my regular rotation. I've been reaching for sherried Islays generally.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  8. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    Not sure if anyone has tried JW Green label, but it's a good single malt blend. A nice Islay take on JW...
     
  9. indesertum

    indesertum Senior member

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    i taste more of the grain whisky than islay in green. im not a fan of my bottle. an odd diesel taste to it and not enough caol ila for me.

    i like blends. i think it takes a lot of skill to balance all the distilleries. with SMS you typically a few dominant flavors. with blends you get a little bit of everything. like you buy glendronach and you expect a sherry bomb. you buy laphroaig and you expect a iodiney smoke bomb. you buy JW or chivas and you expect a little bit of smoke, a little sherry, a little honey, a little bit of floral spices, a little brininess

    with blends you're trusting more the palate of the master blender, whereas with SMS you're trusting more the terroir and tradition

    i think it boils down to an aesthetic preference

    JW used to be a fantastic deal. you couldn't buy 18 year old SMS for less than $110 and JW gold was like $70 with a ton of that lovely clynelish character. now prices are pretty much in line.

    imo all distilleries (scotch or not, blended or not) aim for consistency and generally aim for smoothness. you dont see huge vintage variations in either blends or SMS. also cask strength is relatively uncommon

    i dont quite understand why the default response to blended scotches is that they're boring or uninteresting. interesting beverages to me signifies that they have depths of flavor where you keep tasting new and different things every time you sip it. a lot of the younger SMS especially from expressive regions like islay are very one dimensional. you have a sip and you pretty much know what the next sip will taste like. what makes the older SMS (especially ones that have been in multiple barrels) interesting is that they continually engage your mind and remind you of different things. and i feel like blends emulate that complexity using different distilleries instead of relying on age. some are good and some are bad, but that's the same with SMS.

    kind of like the pepsi challenge where people preferred pepsi if they only had a sip of it, but it turns out people prefer a can of coke over a can of pepsi. like the NAS stuff is really interesting on first sip, but i get tired of them after a dram or two whereas good blends make me want to drink the whole bottle in one sitting.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  10. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    I should clarify my point. Blended whiskies aim at reproducing their same flavour exactly where single malts will vary more over time. This is practically speaking, theortically they're both trying to maintain the same flavour from batch to batch. I suppose blends hit their mark more often because they have much more variety to work with.
     
  11. indesertum

    indesertum Senior member

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    I'm not an expert or anything but seems to me the big distilleries also try to make their regular lineup taste exactly the same every year. IMO the variation comes in with additions to the new lineup and discontinuing of products and also with IB bottlings. Like I don't recall much vintage variation with regular products like Laga 16 or Mac 18 but I do feel like there is variation with the NASes
     
  12. cchen

    cchen Senior member

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    Yep their business is consistency @ scale
     
  13. brp2

    brp2 Senior member

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    This one must be the polar opposite of consistency. Seawater, rum casks, 65% and stuff falling out of suspension in the bottle (nope, those aren't streaks on the glass that you're seeing in the photo below). It needs some air and a bit of water. I'm not sure what I think of this yet.
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Yamazaki 18 is the shitness.

    Well, there are a bunch of JW's. My first scotch was a JW Black, which I always stock. It's a great whisky, with a real meaty backbone, a little sherry and a little smoke. In blind tastings, I think it would perform very well. I also think Gold is fabulous for that (as indesertum alluded above) Clinelish character. It's been a while since I had Blue (I have a bottle, but unopened) at a restaurant where it was $18 for an ounce and a half which is a great deal. I think its great, and really provides insight into what mature whisky tasts like. It is a real prestige brand, though, and thus the price is too high.

    If you were to compare JW to single malts, it is more that the JW is a meritage, Chianti, or Cotes du Rhone, than a vintage -- it is a blend of different whiskies from different distilleries (as those wines are blends of different grapes). Whereas a single malt is a single distillery's output. Scotch people geek out about the single malts because of terroir, the 'taste of place' as the French put it when referring to wine. Oban is located by the sea, the barrels age by the sea and breathe in the sea air, so it has a real seaside character. That is its taste of place. Further, with single malts, the skill of the distiller is on full display -- they cannot 'cover up' defects in the shiky as easily as JW can by blending in a different whisky to cure that deficiency. Though, most singles will be blends (to some extent) of that distillery's product and certainly of different casks from that distillery.

    To get a single malt that is akin to a vintage, you have to buy a single-cask whisky that all came from one year, was aged in one cask, and bottled without blending in other casks.

    ~ H
     
  15. gopherblue

    gopherblue Senior member

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    How does one score an invite to an NYC SF get-together? I'd certainly not come empty-handed...I've got heaps of bottles in need of sampling.
     
  16. gopherblue

    gopherblue Senior member

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    Foo is right--different horses for different courses, and even then, it's pretty subjective to the drinker. I'm a single malt drinker, but there is a place for good blends. The JW Blue is an excellent blended whisky and very drinkable. But unless you get it at a great duty-free price, isn't usually worth it as there are far more interesting whiskies on which you could spend that money. That said, I happily accept bottles that are usually gifted to me around the holidays. JW Gold is also a great blended whisky, at a much more reasonable pricepoint. Always good to have on hand if you're looking for something easily drinkable, or for those folks who don't care for the distinct flavor profiles of various SMs.

    Berry Brothers makes a JW Blue competitor called Blue Hanger, which is pretty good for a blend and well-priced.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
  17. gopherblue

    gopherblue Senior member

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    I have an Aberlour 18 I love, but I haven't been a fan of the few A'bunadh's I've tried. Not sure why to be honest, other than I am not a sherry-bomb fan and the ones I tried were heavy on the sherry.

    My goto bottles are Longrow CV (discontinued and coveted), Longrow 18, various Laga 12's, Talisker 18 and Oban 14/18, among a raft of other open bottles. I'm obviously a smoky/peaty fan.
     
  18. agoldf

    agoldf Senior member

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    Green is a blended malt no grain whisky in there so I do not know why you'd be tasting it.


    Like JW green, Blue hanger is a blended malt, not a blended whisky (there is no grain whisky) so it is not quite a direct comparison to JW generally.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  19. agoldf

    agoldf Senior member

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    the opening and closing of glendronach does not affect the 21 there maybe older whisky in there but that has nothing to do with the closure it would be a matter of choice.
    Which Balvenie SC15?

    abundah has gone through the same evolution as uigeadail, losing its older components but the uigeadail, given its flavor profile is less effected. Although the 03-04-05 batches are very different from todays. Both, of course represent a broader trend: in any age statement bottle there used to be a significant percentage of older/much older stock to improve the whisky. Given the extreme value of older stock that almost does not happen anymore.
    JW makes excellent whisky, the Black is quite likely better than many SMS so long as you want a bit of smoke.
    The Oban 18 and the DE are very different. While both are s step up price wise they go in different directions. I love the 18 the DE not so much.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  20. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    I have a chance to pick up a vintage bottling of MAC 18 from 1991, for a good price. Anyone have experience on that year bottling, is it worth picking up?
     

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