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My favorite single malt scotch whiskeys

  • Aug 27, 2010
I have been a single malt drinker for over 20 years. I came to this much sought-after libation after drinking lots of blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, I warn you, one has to work their way up to this very bold often smoky taste. One of the reasons why single malts are my favorite is because I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch. I have found that stronger peat infused single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate. I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles. The "Six Classic Malts Of Scotland" begin in the Lowlands, just a few miles from Edinburgh, where the Glenkinchie™ distillery produces its light and floral Single Malt. From here we travel to Dalwhinnie™ in the Highlands, typified by its heather and honey flavours. From there we visit Speyside, and Cragganmore™ - a complex, fruity Single Malt - before heading as far West as we might go to the Isle of Skye. Here we find Talisker™, the only Single Malt Scotch Whisky from this rugged, windswept Island. Travelling south along the West Coast of Scotland, we take in Oban™, the oldest of our collection having been established in 1794 before ending our journey on the magical island of Islay. It's here, that we find the rich, peaty Lagavulin™.
1
Islay Scottish Whisky
Lagavulin™ is my favorite single malt scotch!!! I came to this much sought-after single malt through many years of drinking blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, I warn you, one has to work their way up to this very bold smoky taste. Among single malt scotch aficionados, Lagavulin™ is the "gold standard" of single malts with its massive peat-smoke flavor that's typical of southern Islay - but also offering a dryness that turns it into a truly interesting drink. It became my favorite because I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch. I have found that very few single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate; certainly none of the "Highland" scotches can stand up to a cigar! Lagavulin™ is most often described as "a dry peat smoke that fills the palate with a gentle but strong sweetness, followed by sea and salt with touches of wood." How does Lagavulin™ come by its unique flavor? According to their web site: "Miles and miles of peat bog in the west of the island provide the raw material whose influence so characterises the south eastern Islay malts, of which Lagavulin™ is perhaps best known. Lagavulin's™ richly peaty process water runs down the brown burn to the distillery from the Solan Lochs in the hills above the distillery. Though it shares a coastline with two neighbouring distilleries, former owner Peter Mackie took pains to ensure that Lagavulin shares its water with no-one. Rights over the water course and the surrounding land were hotly contested in his day; his persistence secured Lagavulin's legacy." "The barley used to distil Lagavulin™ is malted at nearby Port Ellen and has a strong peat aroma - it has perhaps twenty times as much exposure to peat smoke as a typical Speyside, Cragganmore. Fermentation of the barley is a slow process, too. Between 55 and 75 hours are taken for the full peat-rich flavour of the locally-malted barley to come through. The four stills at Lagavulin, two of them pear-shaped in the style inherited from Malt Mill, take this peaty wort and give it all the time and care it deserves. Following the original practice, Lagavulin™ receives the slowest distillation of any Islay malt - around five hours for the first distillation and more than nine hours for the second is the norm. This long distillation is often said to give Lagavulin™ the characteristic roundness and soft, mellow edges that devotees rightly prize." "There's nothing rushed about Islay, nor is there about Lagavulin™; before being bottled, the malt spends sixteen unhurried years breathing the sea-salt air of Islay, mainly in refill European oak casks kept in traditional white-painted warehouses by the sea shore. Long fermentation, long distillation and long maturation together ensure that Lagavulin develops all of its long, rich, peaty character. It's is a spirit that likes to take its time. The definitive Islay malt demands nothing less." I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles.
See the full review, "Certainly the best of Islay single malts".
2
Laphroaig
Laphroaig ™ is my 2nd favorite single malt scotch!!! I came to this much sought-after single malt through allot of years of drinking blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, one has to work their way up to this very bold smoky taste. Among many single malt scotch aficionados (including Prince Charles whose royal warrant is on every label), Laphroaig ™ is the "gold standard" of single malts with its massive peat-smoke flavor that's typical of southern Islay - but also offering a dryness that turns it into a truly interesting drink. By the way, I have had the 10, 15, and 30 year old bottlings and I must say they do get better with age!!! Laphroaig ™ became one of my favorites because I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch. I have found that very few single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate; certainly none of the "Highland" scotches can stand up to a cigar! Laphroaig ™ "is a full-bodied, smoky gem, with a residual sweetness and a hint of salt amidst the seaweedy, peaty characters before a long warming finish." Laphroaig™ - Gaelic for "the beautiful hollow by the broad bay" - boasts, as its name demands, an idyllic setting for a Distillery, with its own sea loch and peninsula. How does Laphroaig™ come by its unique flavor? According to their web site: "Laphroaig™ uses water from Kilbride Dam which has a soft and very peaty character. The reason that the water is so soft is that it flows over granite and therefore does not pick up any unwanted minerals. The kilns at Laphroaig™ are from 1840. The Barley used is called Optic. Laphroaig™ malts 30 percent of the barley themselves; the rest is bought from Port Ellen Maltings. The peat comes from Laphroaig's™ own bogs which lie east of Loch Indaal. Kelp and seaweed are often washed ashore when the sea is high and the wind blows inland. This gives Laphroaig's™ peat a different character and is one reason for the unique taste of Laphroaig™ whisky. A hint of sherry quickly gives way to the Islay intensity and distinctively oily body with a big peaty-smoky flavour. A round, dry and warming finish renders Laphroaig™ the perfect night-cap, but not one for the weak-kneed!!! I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles.
See the full review, "A hint of sherry quickly gives way to the Islay intensity and with a big peaty-smoky flavor".
3
Talisker
Talisker™ is one of my favorite single malt scotches!!! I came to this much sought-after single malt through allot of years of drinking blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, one has to work their way up to this smoky taste. Among single malt scotch aficionados, Talisker™ is known for its moderate peat-smoke flavor that's typical of Isle of Skye - but also offering a dryness that turns it into a truly interesting drink. It became one of my favorites because I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch. I have found that very few single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate; certainly none of the "Highland" scotches can stand up to a cigar! Talisker ™ is most often described as "The colour is gold with amber glint. The superb and fresh nose is rich, peaty, spicy and detects marine hints. The palate confirms the nose, with some salted hints. The finish is deceiving, and becomes rapidly dryish with smoke notes." Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous writer wrote in one of his poems "The king o' drinks, as I conceive it,Talisker, Islay or Glenlivet". How does Talisker™ come by its unique flavor? According to their web site: "On the shores of Loch Harport, the village of Carbost is home to Skye's only distillery producing a wonderful award-winning Island malt bottled at above average strength. Talisker's™ soft, peaty process water is drawn from twenty-one underground springs that rise from Hawk Hill (Cnoc nan Speirag) beside the distillery. These same springs have fed Talisker from the beginning." "Faithfully following the original design, it is believed that this double distillation ensures that all of Talisker's™ rich, deep character is captured first time. So there is, indeed, nothing withdrawn or reserved about Talisker™. Talisker™ embodies all the spirit of this rocky, storm-lashed island and its strong, steadfast people. Skye's only distillery this may be, but like the men of the island the malt has character enough for ten. "A rich dried-fruit sweetness with clouds of smoke and strong barley-malt flavours, warming and intense. At the back of the mouth is an explosion of pepper." I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles.
4
Oban
Oban™ is one of my favorite "Highland" single malt scotches!!! I came to this much sought-after single malt through allot of years of drinking blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, one has to work their way up to this smoky taste. Among single malt scotch aficionados, Oban ™ The color is deep yellow. The nose, light, refined and balances are marked by spices (pepper), citrus fruits and light woody and smoky hints. The palate is smooth and develops on peat with a smoky, malty finish with exotic fruit touches.Although I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch; I have found that very few single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate; certainly none of the "Highland" scotches can stand up to a cigar! Thus, Oban ™ is a sipping scotch for me in the summer. How does Oban ™ come by its unique flavor? According to their web site: "Oban is the frontier between the West Highlands and the Islands; the meeting place between land and sea. A perfect, sheltered harbour makes it the principal seaport for the Isles and the capital of the West Highlands. It has a mild, temperate climate, warmed by the Gulf Stream and washed (too often, some might say) by the soft rain that often falls hereabouts. This misty, briny character, with a background of heather and peat, is perfectly echoed in the malt whisky produced at Oban. Fine single malt whisky has been made here for over 200 years, in one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland." "Oban™ is made using only the finest barley, malted to the distillery's own particular specification. Partly germinated barley is gently dried in a kiln where a light peat smoke gives the malt a distinctive character and taste. The result is the smoky, malty dryness in the flavour and finish of Oban™. The stills used are among the smallest in Scotland; the cramped nature of the site is attested to by the odd position of the worm tubs, fed by unusually short lyne arms, and nestled in the ‘vee' between the roofs of the still house and an adjoining building." For me, Oban™ has a rich sweetness and fruits - oranges, lemons and pears, with a slight sea-salt and peaty smokiness. I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles.
See the full review, "A good malt, balanced and smooth,".
5
Craggenmore
Cragganmore™ is one of my favorite single malt scotches!!! I came to this much sought-after single malt through allot of years of drinking blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, one has to work their way up to this smoky taste. Among single malt scotch aficionados, Cragganmore™ is known for its strong malty taste with hints of sweet wood smoke and sandalwood. typical of Speyside. It became one of my favorites because I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch. I have found that very few single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate; certainly none of the "Highland" or "Speyside" scotches can stand up to a cigar! Thus, Cragganmore™ is a sipping scotch for me in the summer. Cragganmore™ is most often described as "The colour is gold with amber glint. The superb and fresh nose is rich, peaty, spicy and detects marine hints. The palate confirms the nose, with some salted hints. The finish is deceiving, and becomes rapidly dryish with smoke notes." How does Cragganmore™ come by its unique flavor? According to their web site: "Original Cragganmore™ owner, 'Big' John Smith choose the distillery's private location high on the Spey for a few great reasons. Barley is naturally a major crop in the area, the presence of Scotland's fastest flowing river - together with peat from the uplands to the south is what lured Smith to this ideal location along with access to Strathspey railway line. The perfect place for the perfect distillery. Successive managers of Cragganmore™ have strived to continue his vision to deliver the sweetest, most complex malt whiskies: fruity, honeyed notes are often found. And many a taster of has talked lyrically of fruitcake and toffee flavours." "Cragganmore™ is, for many, the home of the definitive Speyside malt. It is known as 'the most complex aroma of any malt - astonishingly fresh and delicate'." "A complex of sweet floral fragrances, riverside herbs and flowers with some honey and vanilla. The most complex nose of any malt whisk." I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles.
See the full review, "Strong malty taste with hints of sweet wood smoke and sandalwood".
6
Lowland Scottich Whisky
Cragganmore™ is one of my favorite single malt scotches!!! I came to this much sought-after single malt through allot of years of drinking blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, one has to work their way up to this smoky taste. Among single malt scotch aficionados, Cragganmore™ is known for its strong malty taste with hints of sweet wood smoke and sandalwood. typical of Speyside. It became one of my favorites because I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch. I have found that very few single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate; certainly none of the "Highland" or "Speyside" scotches can stand up to a cigar! Thus, Cragganmore™ is a sipping scotch for me in the summer. Cragganmore™ is most often described as "The colour is gold with amber glint. The superb and fresh nose is rich, peaty, spicy and detects marine hints. The palate confirms the nose, with some salted hints. The finish is deceiving, and becomes rapidly dryish with smoke notes." How does Cragganmore™ come by its unique flavor? According to their web site: "Original Cragganmore™ owner, 'Big' John Smith choose the distillery's private location high on the Spey for a few great reasons. Barley is naturally a major crop in the area, the presence of Scotland's fastest flowing river - together with peat from the uplands to the south is what lured Smith to this ideal location along with access to Strathspey railway line. The perfect place for the perfect distillery. Successive managers of Cragganmore™ have strived to continue his vision to deliver the sweetest, most complex malt whiskies: fruity, honeyed notes are often found. And many a taster of has talked lyrically of fruitcake and toffee flavours." "Cragganmore™ is, for many, the home of the definitive Speyside malt. It is known as 'the most complex aroma of any malt - astonishingly fresh and delicate'." "A complex of sweet floral fragrances, riverside herbs and flowers with some honey and vanilla. The most complex nose of any malt whisk." I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles.
See the full review, "A light, delicate whisky; sweet and creamy with a subtle floral fragrance".
7
Highland Scottish Whisky
Dalwhinnie ™ is one of my favorite single malt scotches!!! I came to this much sought-after single malt through allot of years of drinking blended scotch whiskeys like Johnnie Walker Black. However, one has to work their way up to this smoky taste. Among single malt scotch aficionados, Dalwhinnie™ is known for its Long, lingering, surprisingly intense finish that starts sweetly, then gives way to smoke, peat and malt, not typicalof a Highland scotch. It became one of my favorites because I usually smoke cigars when I am drinking scotch. I have found that very few single malts can be tasted through cigar smoke on the palate; certainly none of the "Highland" or "Speyside" scotches can stand up to a cigar! Thus, Dalwhinnie ™ is a sipping scotch for me in the summer. Dalwhinnie ™ is most often described as "Smooth, soft and lasting flavours of heather, honey sweetness and vanilla followed by deeper citrus-fruit flavours and hints of malted bread." How does Dalwhinnie ™ come by its unique flavor? According to their web site: "When the water you start with comes from the highest mountain source of any malt, you expect something rather fine. And Dalwhinnie™, for whisky writer Roger Voss a "surprisingly soft whisky...from Scotland's highest, most remote distillery", does not disappoint. The source, Lochan an Doire-Uaine, (Gaelic for "lake in the green grove"), lies at 2,000 feet in the Drumochter Hills. From it, all the pure spring water used in distilling Dalwhinnie™ flows over rich local peat through Allt an t'Sluic, the distillery burn. No other distillery may use the water from this source – therefore no other distillery is able to yield Dalwhinnie's™ uniquely clean, accessible, malty-sweet taste, giving way to a smooth and smoky Highland mouthfeel. The style is that of the Highlands; a resilient marriage of gentleness and spirit. As befits a malt from such a place, Dalwhinnie™ defies simple description. Too gratifying for an aperitif alone, yet too gentle and delicate to be thought rugged or unapproachable; this combination of delicacy and depth sets it apart." "The Highland peatiness is very restrained at first, balanced by heathery sweetness, but intensifies toward the finish. Clear flavours against a very clean background. A good aperitif." Dalwhinnie ™ has a "A big, crisp, dry and very aromatic nose with hints of heather and peat." I suggest that if you are serious about trying single malt scotches, you do it by tasting "THE SIX CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND" of United Distillers. They are particularly selected to best represent each of the malt whiskey producing regions of Scotland. They embrace the full diversity of regional tastes and styles.
See the full review, "A big, crisp, dry and very aromatic nose with hints of heather and peat".

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September 08, 2010
I've tried Lagavulin and Laphroaig and I agree they are both excellent but the rest is still untried by me so at least I have something to look forward too.
September 08, 2010
Thamk you for the comment. My advice to you is to "start drinking heavily."
 
August 31, 2010
Before I even saw @jrjohnson's comment, I thought, "I'm getting kinda tipsy reading this" :P Great list, Michael! By the way, did you mean to put spaces in between the paragraphs on your list? You can do that by clicking on "Show Text Editor" when you edit your list. Makes it easier on the eyes :)
August 31, 2010
Devora, thanks for the compliment. Also, thank you for the edit tip, I couldn't figure that out.
 
August 30, 2010
oh, my....bartender....bartender....round of drinks for the site please...on JR and Michael LOL!
August 30, 2010
William, thanks for the compliment, anytime you are in my neighborhood the scotch is "on me"!! By the way, I put up a review of the silent screen star John Gilbert, tell me what you think? http://www.lunch.com/Reviews/actor/John_Gilb...1&gat=review#rid:143177
 
August 30, 2010
wow. great list Michael! i'm afraid i might have a hangover just from reading it.
August 30, 2010
JR, thank you for thecompliment. Wondering if you have had any of these, if not, what is your favorite libation.?
August 30, 2010
not a huge scotch drinker. the only on your list that i've had is the oban and that's because a scotch guy i was with wanted it. I thought it was good... tasted like scotch ;)
 
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About the list creator
Michael Neulander ()
Ranked #2
Recently graduated with a Masters in Humanities degree from Old Dominion University reading in philosophy and history. I graduated from the Univ. of Miami in 1980 with a B.A. in Political Science; specializing … more
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