How to begin drinking scotch?

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by kjamesuvic, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Warren G.

    Warren G. Senior member

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    Does anyone truly enjoy scotch the first time they have it straight? I always though it was a learn to love it kind of thing. Maybe that's just me. Some good advice here.
    yup...at least for me. My first single malt was HP12. But my very first scotch was the Black Label. I was telling myself since I got a bottle, I gotta finish it at least. So every Friday and Sunday evening, I would pour myself a dram. Eventually, I was looking forward to that Thursday and Sunday evening. After I finally finish my bottle of BL, I got myself a bottle of HP 12. Then I discover one of my cousin is a huge single malt guy. So I was fortunate enough to drink some great single malt from his stash. I basically got the chance to try everything under the sun from him. I'm hook and glad I bought some Glencairn glass also. My cousin recently gift me HP 18. I got finals coming up, so I'm looking forward to crack it open.
     


  2. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    The first bottle of scotch I ever purchased was Glenlivet 12, at a Duty Free shop when I was 18. I was gonna give it to somebody as a gift but ended up drinking it myself. I understood the terms 'single malt' and 'blended' but it didn't really kick in for until much later, I drank beer most of the time in college and after, and have taken up drinking scotch again when I was buying my dad some bottles for his birthday and was at bars checking out the different brands I wanted to buy for him, and got really into it. I like wine as well, but I find scotch tasting to be a lot easier for my palate to pick apart and figure out what I'm tasting as opposed to wine.
     


  3. PeterMetro

    PeterMetro Senior member

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    You guys are fancy lads. First scotch black label? Well la-di-da.

    First scotch I ever had was Cluny, but I quickly moved up to J&B. For years I drank J&B and water. It's cheap, it drinks real easy, and it's what Studs Terkel drank.

    In my opinion, the only way to truly appreciate good booze is to know what the swill tastes like.

    And don't limit yourself to scotch. There are some very fine small batch bourbons and ryes out there for half the price of most single malts. And that's without mentioning the nice tequilas, mexcals, rums and gins that are great with a couple ice cubes, and will give you that sense of "manhood" you seek.

    Avoid vodka at all costs.
     


  4. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    You guys are fancy lads. First scotch black label? Well la-di-da.
    I bummed it off guy I know here at school who's a trust fund baby, if that counts for anything. He's a bit of a dick, but he's been known to have nice liquor around. I don't really go for scotch much on my own dime, it's too pricey for my budget right now. Perhaps I'll just go without books next semester to afford nicer liquors...
     


  5. changy

    changy Senior member

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    People drink scotch different ways, neat, with water, on rocks. Although on rocks is frowned upon by traditionalist.

    Drink it in a tapered sniffer (just dont stick your whole nose in it like wine, scotland smells different from southern france)

    i say the glenlivet is an easy scotch to start with. or you can be a man and go with a laphroig quarter cask. (I kid, dont get the quater cask)
     


  6. HORNS

    HORNS Senior member

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    I always drink Scotch, and bourbon as well, cut with 1/4 water. Not sparkling, but just plain bottled water. To me, the best way I can describe my choice in doing this is that the water "separates out the flavors".
     


  7. TourbillonTurk.

    TourbillonTurk. Senior member

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    I am also 21 and started drinking scotch mainly after the age of 19. Start at home with cheaper brands like red label,teachers,chivas regal. Drink casually and adapt your taste buds to scotch. I suggest you keep a small glass of water whilst drinking to pick up taste buds, also the cliche of spinning is true try to catch the unique aroma/scent of each bottle [​IMG]. Slowly move on to single blends like Talisker 18y.o (my fav) Glenlivet, Glenmorange. And btw stay away from chocolate or any form of sweet stuff whilst drinking scotch, your sugar levels hit max and it really isn´t good. Finally as my father would say to me ,drinking scotch is easy done the most important thing is to show your maturity like the drink in your hand. ; ) enjoy !
     


  8. RedLantern

    RedLantern Senior member

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    I'm lucky enough to live in a family where everyone drinks scotch. Probably started getting sips of my mom's scotch and waters at 4-5 years old, so I never remember not enjoying it. Unfortunately scotch is expensive, so I usually just drink beer or bourbon. Sometimes when I'm not seriously boozing I'll drink dewars and water (it's sort of my winter substitution for gin&tonic).
     


  9. I<3Bacon

    I<3Bacon Senior member

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    kjamesuvic: Save your money until you have $200 and then buy yourself a bottle of Octomore. [​IMG]

    Sorry, bad joke... but in all seriousness, there is some good and some questionable advice here. My two cents, but you shouldn't feel the need to "work your way up" to quality Single Malt Scotch by drinking cheap blended whisky. Also, you most certainly don't want to "kill your taste buds". One of the most pleasurable aspects of drinking fine whisky is honing your sense of taste and smell.

    I was going to reference this post I made in a similar topic, but your budget and chances of finding like-minded individuals your age willing to pony up some cash will make it challenging (read: impossible).

    As some people here suggested, start off with one solid Single Malt within your budget. Most of the time, that means Glenlivet 12yr or Glenfiddich 12yr. They're cheap, readily available, and have an accessible flavor profile (mild mannered, light, a little fruity, a little grassy). They're also a little boring. Huntsman made two excellent suggestions (Cragganmore or HP12) that are in alignment with your budget and offer a little more character than the previously mentioned whiskies while still maintaining an accessible profile. Oban does get recommended pretty frequently, but I tend to steer people toward Cragganmore since Oban does have a detectable bitter/metallic finish. In the end, Diageo's still going to get your money. The Glenrothes, Old Pultney, or Dalwhinnie will also get the job done.

    When you do acquire your first bottle, find a quiet time to enjoy it where you won't have many distractions (particularly strong aromas in the air). Call over a couple friends who you trust won't just try to shoot it...

    Sorry, getting side tracked here, but once, I was at a business function and the guy hosting asked me to pick a Scotch off the restaurant's menu with little or no concern about the price. I saw that HP18 was fairly priced and he ordered a round for everyone at the table. To my horror, half the people present shot their whisky and then made sour faces. I wanted to cry.

    Anyway, when serving your whisky, try to use something tapered like changy suggested. A wine glass would be better than a tumbler to help focus the aromas. A cheap brandy snifter would be even better (probably not going to be able to afford Glencairn glasses on your budget at this time... spend your money on whisky instead). Only pour 1-2oz at a time. Give it a few minutes to breathe. Smell your whisky (but not too deeply). Try to pay attention to what you're smelling. Take a tiny sip neat. The alcohol will burn your mouth and palate at first. Take another tiny sip. This time, you should be able to taste a little more of what's going on. As you're slowly enjoying your whisky, add a few drops of room temperature filtered or bottled water at a time and see how the smell and taste evolves. Have some discussion with your companions about what they're experiencing (sherry, peat, grass, malted barley, salt, brine, sea aromas, berries, nuts, etc. etc. etc.). Have fond thoughts of your grandfather and when he used to enjoy a little Scotch.

    Or not. I'd imagine a lot of 21yr old kids would think this is all rather douchey and pretentious. If that's the case, spend your $50 on 90 cans of Simpler Times at Trader Joe's instead and let the good times roll.

    The topic of when one should drink whisky is also heavily debated. There are many who enjoy a nice whisky after a heavy meal as a digestif. There are others who try to put as much time between their last meal and their whisky as possible since their palate will be at its freshest. But you should already know the pitfalls associated with drinking on an empty stomach. You also can't argue with having a dram of Scotch with a juicy steak. I think the answer is that there is no bad time to have some Scotch.

    After that first bottle is gone and your interest is still there, try something a little different. Perhaps something a little bolder and a little peatier. Until you're a little more familiar with the different styles of Scotch, I'd recommend holding off on any of the whiskies from Islay (like Ardbeg or Laphroaig). Now that is something you may need to work your way up to.
     


  10. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Senior member

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    definitely not Lag/Laph or Bowmore yet.

    Ah, the lava of the Cuillens.
     


  11. sonick

    sonick Senior member

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    I find Wisers Deluxe and Jamesons to be quite mild, smooth and palatable to the novice.
     


  12. BrianVarick

    BrianVarick Senior member

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    When you guys started drinking at a young age, did you enjoy the taste, or is it more of a battle, to keep drinking and getting used to it?
     


  13. musicguy

    musicguy Senior member

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    ...
    Great guide! I tend to add one small ice cube to my scotch. I don't know if that's sacrilegious, but it seems to open the flavors just enough for me and I enjoy drinking it slightly cold too. The first time I tried a good single malt I loved it because I read about how to drink it and really tried to taste the flavors. I have a very sensitive palate and felt that helped a lot.
     


  14. ysc

    ysc Senior member

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    SFields' and huntsman's advice is solid. If you want to try a blend maybe look into The Black Grouse, it has a fair bit of Islay Whiskey in it, but not enough to give it a really fierce flavour, and is excellent value for money in my opinion. For single malts, as SFields and Huntsman said, the speyside whiskeys are probably the place to start, some of the higland malts would also be good.
     


  15. JohnnyLaw

    JohnnyLaw Senior member

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    I find Wisers Deluxe and Jamesons to be quite mild, smooth and palatable to the novice.

    Wisers? I know that some others here (Piobaire, at least) seem to love the stuff but I bought a bottle a few weeks ago and thought it was one of the worst whiskeys I'd ever tasted. Harsh alcohol bite, no character and left me with a headache. When I want something cheap, I find Jim Beam is much, much better.
     


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