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Skeleton Ape
Dec 21, 2008

indoflaven posted:

Scotch is always made in oak barrels that have previously been used to make bourbon.

Not always. Bourbon laws state that bourbon must be aged in a brand-new barrel, and after that the barrel can't be used anymore to make bourbon. Many scotch distilleries buy these barrels up in bulk because they can be had relatively cheaply. Scotch whisky is often aged in all sorts of other things though, such as port, sherry, and Madeira casks.


Skeleton Ape
Dec 21, 2008

Bruce Leroy posted:

So, for everyone, do you think you'd be able to pick out the more expensive and ostensibly higher quality whisk(e)ys from the cheaper, poor quality stuff or do you think psychological effects similar to those affecting wine tasters may be affecting your perceptions of whisk(e)ys. Basically, do you think you could reliably pick out the more aged or better quality whisk(e)ys from the younger, crappier stuff?

One of the first things to learn when it comes to booze is that more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better. Remember that we're talking about a highly subjective thing here, and there's really no way to decide if one whisky is objectively "better" (and therefore more expensive) than another. When you're first starting out it should be all about exploring, determining what flavors you enjoy, and developing your own taste.

Next, younger does not equal crappier. An older whisky will taste more mellow and refined, while a younger one will be bold and flavorful. Aging just tends to sand down the hard edges a bit and impart more of that delicious wood flavor and color. The primary reason older whiskies are more expensive is simply that 18, 21, or 30 years is a hell of a time commitment. When a company literally spends decades making something they want to get their money's worth when it comes time to sell it.

(EDIT - the bottle in my avatar is aged only 10 years but is an absolute favorite of myself and professional tasters alike.)

I love a lot of relatively cheap bottles, even to the exclusion of more expensive stuff of the same style (I like a lot of pricey bourbons, but I still think Elijah Craig 12 is loving awesome and on par with a lot of them flavor-wise). Unfortunately, I've also fallen in love with other bottles that happen to be very expensive. That isn't to say that there isn't a general correlation of price to quality—if you paid $9 for a fifth of plastic bottle bourbon you can be pretty sure it's going to taste like pure gasoline—but once you get into the $150+ range it's definitely a case of diminishing returns. I've tasted Johnnie Walker Blue, most non-whisky people's idea of "the best scotch", a few times and although it was very nice I just couldn't stop thinking about several other scotches I'd had before that tasted better to me and cost half as much. When it comes down to it, price and age are things that should inform your purchasing decision, but it's really about learning what you like and going with it. gently caress anyone who tells you differently.

Except for Laphroaigh quarter cask. If you don't like that you're wrong.

Skeleton Ape fucked around with this message at Oct 7, 2011 around 20:30

Skeleton Ape
Dec 21, 2008

Thufir posted:

Cool, the Whisk(e)y thread is back. I've almost finished the Laphroaig 10 I posted about getting as my first scotch in the last thread and I was thinking of trying something else but didn't know where to start. Any suggestions for someone who likes Laphroaig and has absolutely no other discovered preferences (aside from not super spendy)? I was at the store yesterday looking around but didn't want to drop $40 blindly so I just grabbed a cheap bottle of Bulleit bourbon to tide me over.

If you're just starting out, one of my favorite all-rounders is Highland Park 12. It's got a fair amount of smoke but not nearly as much as Laphroaigh and the other Islays. It's beautifully balanced and pretty cheap too ($45 give or take).

If you want to explore more of those extremely smoky flavors I'd highly recommend Lagavulin 16. It goes for about $90 a bottle but you can find it in a lot of nicer bars if you'd like to just try a glass. People who are into smoke almost universally love this one and it's definitely in my top ten.

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