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Can some Whiskey experts help a newbie out?


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Hi there, I have never been a fan of hard liquor (previously I had only been exposed to my friend's bottles of mccormick and the like), but recently I was able to try a $200 bottle of scotch at a wedding (it was on the open bar!). It was amazing (unfortunately I can't remember the name) and I have been attempting to educate myself on quality whiskeys ever since.

Now, I am a poor college student and can't imagine ever spending over $40 on a bottle of liquor (at least not in the near future)... what kind of advice can you give me for what to buy? I picked up a bottle of Maker's Mark and it is pretty good, though I think I might like Scotch better. Other Whiskey's I have tried are Canadian Mist (did *not* like), and Jameson (pretty good, though I think I liked the Maker's Mark better). What is the best whiskey for the money that is under $40 (preferably under $30)? Are there any internet sites that I can order it from cheaper? Looking at all the bottles on the shelf is a little daunting, can some of you whiskey snobs give me some guidance? Thanks!

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There's 4 main types of whiskey's,

1.) Canadian Whisky is called Rye

2.) American Whiskey is called Sour Mash, or Bourbon if its made in that area

3.) Scottish Whisky is called Scotch (duh)

4.) Irish Whiskey, is called, ... Irish Whiskey

There's also the variance of single, double and blended malts, as you can guess the taste varies from country to country.

Generally you want to get something that has been aged awhile, try and swing a 12 year bottle of scotch, the people I know who drink scotch like Johnny Walker Black or Glenfiddich 12 year.

Personally I hate whiskey's ...

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There's also the variance of single, double and blended malts, as you can guess the taste varies from country to country.

What is a Double (apart from what you order at the bar)?

It is either single or blended. If you mean that there are 2 single malts in the bottle then this is a blended whisky. By law you would not be allowed to call a bottle a double malt or even name which malts were in the bottle. If it is two different vintages from the same distillery it is also against law to state which vintages they are.

Sorry to be a pedant.

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Hello thrasymachus, welcome. :smile:

Don't know what a "double malt" is, but I would be amazed to try one... No ctgm, if you put together two or more Single Malts you can call it Pure Malt or Vatted Malt, but not Blended.

Anyways, these are the whisky types with some tips under $40.

-Straight Bourbon Whiskey: mainly produced in Kentucky from a recipe of three grains: corn (+/- 70%), malt and rye OR wheat. Maker's Mark is "wheated", most other brands use rye which makes it taste spicier. A variant made in Tennessee (f.e. Jack Daniels) is charcoal-filtered. The majority of Bourbon and Tennessee Whisky retails for less than $40 or even $30.

-Straight Rye Whiskey: substantially, just switch the percentages of corn and rye in the composition. Distilled almost entirely inside Kentucky Bourbon distilleries. Spicier than Bourbon and a little sour, maybe not a drink for everyone if you don't want to mix it. I think for that cash you can get Van Winkle ryes, great stuff.

-Canadian Whisky: commonly a blend of many different whiskies, separately distilled from barley, corn and rye. Usually unexpensive, if compared to Scotch. Try Crown Royal or Canadian Club 12.

-Irish Whisky: made in Ireland. You can find it as malt whisky (made entirely from malted barley), pot-still whisky (from malted AND unmalted barley distilled together) and blended (with column-distilled grain whisky). Malts: Tyrconnell, Bushmills 10. Blends: Jameson 12, Black Bush. Pot-still: Redbreast 12, if you can find it.

-Scotch Whisky: made in Scotland. Single Malts are malt whiskies produced in discontinuous stills (pot-stills), coming from a single distillery. I could well extend a "under $40 list" to a dozen, so drastically reducing it according to sub-zones: Longmorn 15 (Speyside), Ardbeg 10 (Islay), Auchentoshan 10 (Lowland). Blended whiskies cover the vast majority of the market; they're a composition of various Single Malts (up to 40+) with some grain whiskies. Try Ballantines 12 or Whyte & Mackay 12, but there are myriads. Whiskies made in Japan follow Scotch style closely, they even often include a percentage of Single Malts Scotches (and they're quite pricey! :huh: ).

In US, try www.samswine.com or ww.thewhiskyshop.com, but my suggestion is to scour the shelves.

Hope that this will help, cheers,

Alberto

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There's 4 main types of whiskey's,

1.) Canadian Whisky is called Rye...

No, Canadian Whisky is not "Rye", even though lots of folks mistakenly refer to it as such.

Rye Whiskey is American. And prior to prohibition, it was the most popular of the American Whiskey's. During prohibition, since the American distillers had to be shut down, no "real" Rye was being made... but folks continued to ask for rye, and so the Canadian Whisky folks were there and ready to push their product into that slot... after all, it did contain "some" rye in its blend didn't it?

Real Rye Whiskey is made from a recipe (aka. Mash Bill) that contains at least 51% Rye, the remainder can be taken up with corn, wheat, or barley. It is aged in -new- oak barrels, and is not "blended" with anything except for other barrels of rye (and water, to bring it's barrel strength down to the 80-100 proof required).

Canadian whisky on the other hand can be made from any mash bill they choose. Can be stored (aging is not a requirement) in old or new barrels, and can be (and almost always is) blended with other products (usually grain distillate).

For American Whiskey, Maker's Mark is a very good "all purpose" Bourbon, perhaps a tad on the expensive side, but it works really well for almost all cocktails.

Unfortunately, ever since prohibition, the manufacture of rye has never returned to it's pre-prohibition levels, and so while there are several dozen different Bourbon's available, there are only a handful of Rye's. "Old Overholt" is a Rye that is not only pretty inexpensive, but it also is a pretty good (although not great) rye.

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

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There's also the variance of single, double and blended malts, as you can guess the taste varies from country to country.

There "officially" isn't really any such thing as a "Double Malt", although there are a couple of distilleries that market their product as such. The reason for this requires a little explaination of what a "Single Malt" is.

Many people think that a "Single Malt" might be a reference to it's being made from a single grain, or perhaps from a single "run"... in which case a "Double Malt" might mean that the recipe used two different grains, or perhaps it might mean that the distiller blended two different batches, or some other gymnastic to arrive at Double Malt.

In actuallity, the term "Single Malt", means that the product is sourced from a single distillery. So if "Laphroig" makes a "Single Malt", that means that all of the distilling of the product came from Laphroig. That's it. And a "Blended" scotch, means that the resultant product is a blend of not only several different scotches, perhaps from several different distilleries, but also it can have neutral grain spirit added to it as well as other products in order to arrive at the product the manufacturer had in mind.

The only thing that could truthfully be called a "Double Malt", would be for a manufacturer to take two different single malts (ie. two different scothes from two different distillers) and blend them together... although this should officially be called a "blend", since there is no recognition of the term "double malt" as a label designation.

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

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There are some misconceptions here about malts, blends, etc...

I've never seen the denomination "double malt" on a label; actually "single malt" is a term used substantially only in Irish and Scotch, stating that all the stuff inside the bottle comes from a single distillery (or better a single production line, since there are some distilleries in Scotland that produce more than one single malt). The term "blended" for Scotch and Irish says that almost one grain whisky (hey, not neutral spirit!), which is produced in continuous column stills and has a lighter profile than malt whisky, is included. Mixtures of only different single malts without grain whiskies are called "vatted malts" or "pure malts". For example Cardhu Single Malt, very popular in Europe, has been recently re-marketed by owner Diageo PLC as Cardhu Pure Malt, because they now use other malts form Speyside region (f.e. Dufftown, Glendullan) after a lowering in mature stocks.

Of course, when we are talking about malt without other specification, we refer to barley malt. Some distilleries use to malt another type of grain for distillation, though: Anchor Brewery produces Old Potrero from 100% malted rye, and Distillerie der Menhirs in Brittany makes Eddu whisky wholly form buckwheat malt.

My 2 cents.

Saluti,

Alberto

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A few comments:

-Canadian Whisky: commonly a blend of many different whiskies, separately distilled from barley, corn and rye. Usually unexpensive, if compared to Scotch. Try Crown Royal or Canadian Club 12.

Canadian Whisky is nothing more than blended whisky from Canada. In other words, it is a blend of several malt whiskies that is also blended with a fair amount of neutral spirits. It's all crap to me, but some people seem to enjoy it.

-Scotch Whisky ... Blended whiskies cover the vast majority of the market; they're a composition of various Single Malts (up to 40+) with some grain whiskies.

Again, when you say "grain whiskies" you mean "neutral spirits." (I know you know that, but not everyone does.) As for recommendations, when I was in Scotland as a child with my grandfather McDowell (we're of Scottish extraction and he was a great admirer of quality spirits) he asked the locals in every single pub or bar we entered what they thought was the best blended Scotch. Interestingly, literally 100% of them said "Famous Grouse," and that continues to be the Kinsey family blended of choice to this day. That said, I tend to be a mostly a single malt drinker, with a fondness for Highland Park and Lagavullin.

--

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Regarding double malt's,

http://www.tasmanianwhisky.com.au/speed_te...nest.html#antip

Double malts refer to when the two distillery single malts are combined, not common -- but they exist. I could have sworn I've seen a Glenfiddich bottle as blended malt -- the laws may be different here in Canada regarding naming conventions ?

Drinkboy: I've understood that Canadian whisky has a majority of Rye in it, while American whiskey is made with a majority of corn in its blends. Hence why American whiskey's have a mour sour taste ...

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Drinkboy talks about using single grain in a single malt. This is a little confusing. Below refers to Scotch and hope that it clears things up.

Single Malts are products of individual malt whisky distilleries. They can be from different vintages (although this will be reflected on the label by the age statement)

Vatted Malts are whiskies from more than one malt distillery which have been blended together. I think that this will be the Double Malt (which you could not legally call a Scotch)

Pure Malt refers to any Scotch malt whisky regardless of it being a single or vatted malt and comes exclusively from malted BARLEY

Grain Whisky is produced from a mash of various cereals (usually wheat, maize and barley). You can get single grain and vatted grain whiskies.

Blended whisky contains both malt whisky and grain whisky. If you have 99.9% malt and 0.1% grain then this is still a blended whisky.

Whilst we are at it, here is what the Scotch Whisky Assoc. has to say on the age statement:

"If any specific reference to age is made..it should consist of one figure only and should refer to the age of the youngest whisky" They also go on to say that if a whisky is only showing the distillation date then this is deceptive to the consumer and that a bottling date and/or an age should also be on the label.

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Hi there, I have never been a fan of hard liquor (previously I had only been exposed to my friend's bottles of mccormick and the like), but recently I was able to try a $200 bottle of scotch at a wedding (it was on the open bar!).  It was amazing (unfortunately I can't remember the name) and I have been attempting to educate myself on quality whiskeys ever since. 

What is the best whiskey for the money that is under $40 (preferably under $30)?  Are there any internet sites that I can order it from cheaper?  Looking at all the bottles on the shelf is a little daunting, can some of you whiskey snobs give me some guidance?  Thanks!

I don't know what part of the country you're from, but if you can find a liquor store that carries a selection of mini (aka airline) bottles of whiskies, that's a very good way to sample a range of styles and brands without investing a fortune. (And don't discount your local bar as a source for trying different whiskies, too.)

If you can't do that, I'd start out with some scotches, since that's what you already liked. In your price range, you might be able to find some all malt scotches, but probably not any single malts. You can, however, get some good blended scotches in your range -- Dewar's, Johnnie Walker Black, or Teacher's come to mind.

As for general information, there's already some very good detailed info posted here. For yet another overview (mine), you might be interested in this cocktail class.

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Drinkboy: I've understood that Canadian whisky has a majority of Rye in it, while American whiskey is made with a majority of corn in its blends.  Hence why American whiskey's have a mour sour taste ...

Unfortunately, this is not quite right. There are "a few" Whiskies made in Canada which have high levels of rye in their mash, and at least one which is 100% rye. But most of the Canadian Whiskies have less than 50% (often far less) rye... and yet folks still refer to them (incorrectly) as rye.

American Rye Whiskies on the other hand, contain at least 51% rye, usually far more. The whiskies that use a majority of corn in them are "Bourbon", which is not the same thing as rye.

One issue is that the term "Bourbon" is a protected classification, and to be called Bourbon the whiskey has to meet certain criteria. On the other hand "Rye" is not a protected classification, and while in the US the regulations require it to meet the exact same criteria as Bourbon (except that it is at least 51% rye, instead of corn), there is nothing that prevents some company outside of the US from just adding artificial color and flavor to a vodka and calling it rye (they just couldn't sell it in the US).

American Ryes, and American Bourbons also are not blends.

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

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Thanks JAZ, that was more what I wanted, not this argument over who knows more about whiskey. How is Johnnie Walker Red? worth it? And I have been more and more into that bottle of Maker's mark that I came across. Also what whiskey's that are in the general section should I stay away from? Anything middle shelf that is decent? Just if you walk into an average liquor store (I am from Kansas), what are the 5 bottles of decent whiskey in there (bourbon or scotch)...I am more concerned with getting the best stuff for my money, not using the terms correctly :)

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Actually, it's been ages since I've even tasted Johnnie Walker Red. I used to find it a little harsh, which is why I stopped drinking it. It may be different now, though. I know when I recently had some Johnnie Walker Black for the first time in some years, it seemed to me that the taste had changed (more smoke and peat than it used to have, it seemed). So maybe the Red has changed too.

Whisky likes and dislikes are pretty personal, so take this as only my opinion. I'm not a fan at all of Canadian whiskies -- too sweet for my taste. I've never cared for Jack Daniels, despite its popularity. I've always liked Scotch the best of the whiskies, and I've tasted a lot more brands of Scotch than of bourbon, American or Canadian. I'd say that Cutty Sark and J&B are my least favorite of the mid-range popular brands, with Dewar's being my usual mid-range call Scotch in bars.

I've recently become a fan of rye, especially in Manhattans, but there aren't many affordable rye whiskies out there. Old Overholt and Jim Beam Rye are the two I see the most. Of them, Old Overholt is the better choice.

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If you want a good single malt, Macallan 10yo is quite a good place to start. If you like something a bit heavier then Ardbeg 10yo is a good peaty Islay. One of my favourites is Laphroaig 15yo, which whilst being a typical Islay is not too iodiney or peaty.

Each single malt scotch is so different, I think that the suggestion of going for miniatures is an excellent piece of advice. Then at least you can get some sort of idea which region you prefer.

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I think in your price range that you are generally going to end up in the blended scotch category. I am a huge fan of Famous Grouse, the scotch that slkinsey refferred to in his earlier post. I also like Dewars and Johnny Walker Red.

That being said, I prefer Irish Whiskey over all others. I lived in the middle of Ireland (Enfield, Meath) for a while and although due to economics you don't see people drinking large quantities of whiskey, when they do they are generally drinking Jameson's (if they have dough) or Paddy's (if they have low dough). Bushmill's tends to be consumed more prevelantly in the North of Ireland, although I think that has more to do with the cultural/political situation than it does taste. It is damn fine whiskey.

I liked Jaz's idea about the airline bottles. I had never thought of them that way, but that would be an excellent low budget way to try alot of stuff on a low budget.

One more suggestion....you may want to consult with a local quality liquor vendor about the possibility of joining a local whiskey tasting club. A lot of areas have them and I think you would be able to get alot of advice plus some "hands on" :raz: experience in the field.

This post has been modified for "Foster Brooks" like typing errors....politely pointed out by CTGM

I posted this at work and rarely take the time to go back and edit for typing errors, since I should be doing something productive anyway. Sorry

Edited by Mayhaw Man (log)

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Please see my other post on scotch on this board. I agree that single malt scotch is much better than bourbon or rye, though I like them too. Just tonight I had a glass of Jim Beam Black ($18 a bottle) and thought it was rather good bourbon. The best bourbons I've had have been Booker's, A.H. Hirsch, W.L. Weller and Jefferson's Reserve but you don't want to know what they are a bottle ($40 and up).

Of the sctoches I like I think that Arberlour is one of the best and a great bargain. A bottle of their 10 yr. old will cost you $25-$30 and it is very good. A Speyside scotch, it has inherent sweetness and literally no peatiness. Their 15 yr. old sherry cask is incredible but will set you back about $45 or so. Highland Park 12 yr. old is also quite good, sweetness and some peatiness as well, but not overwhelmingly so. That'll cost you $35-$40 but it is quite good. As was previously said, you can't go wrong with The McCallan 12 yr. old either. Enjoy! :biggrin:

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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