In honor of National Scotch Whiskey Day I decided to review three of the single malts in my collection. I chose one from three of the five regions in Scotland: Speyside, Islay and Highlands. In the future I will include the other two: Lowlands and Campbeltown.
Whiskey preference, like wine, is all up to individual taste. My review of these three Scotches may very well differ from your own personal experiences and likes. I will describe the color, nose (smell), and flavor of each; which should provide you with some insight into each one. All three were tasted ‘neat’ (no ice or water added) then tasted again with a small ice cube added to decrease the temperature and add a little water.
Montgomerie’s Tobermory Rare Select Whiskey 20yr
- Aged in oak casks
- 46% alcohol
- Island/Highland region
- Straw color with a wet hay nose
- Very light flavor profile with a little vanilla hint at the end, there wasn't as much depth of flavor as I usually expect from a 20 yr old, but probably a good intro for Scotch beginners, however, the price point is a little high.
Aberlour A’Bunadh Cask Strength
- Aged in Spanish Oloroso Sherry Butts (casks)
- 60% alcohol
- Speyside region
- A’Bunadh means ‘of the origin’ in Gaelic
- Burnt orange color with a fruity nose.
- Starts strong due to the cask strength (high alcohol content) but smooths out quickly due to the sherry cask. Complex flavors with a sweet, almost cherry finish. One of my personal favorites, but probably not for beginners due to the front end heat.
- Aged in oak casks
- 43% alcohol
- Islay region- known for their peaty/smokey profiles. This region burns the peat to smoke/dry the barley.
- Caramel color with a peaty/smokey nose.
- Starts off with the peaty/smokey flavor with a hint of salt, but soon mellows into a sweeter profile with a faint toasty finish. The Islay style is typically not my favorite, I usually prefer the sweeter mellower styles, however, Lagavulin is a truly amazing Scotch which I have grown to love.
When I added the small ice cube to each Scotch, it seemed to help mellow the front end heat of the high alcohol Aberlour. It also brought out a little more hidden flavor/depth in all three that I tasted. Some Scotch drinkers only have their pour served ‘neat’. I prefer mine with one large ice cube, to add a little water and to cool the Scotch as well. To each his own.
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I realize I have only scratched the surface of the numerous choices in the Single Malt Scotch Whiskey world. Next time you are out, many restaurants/bars offer a ‘flight’ of three different styles to sample simultaneously; a gr8 way to explore the many different regions in Scotland without having to board an airplane. Although a distillery tour through Scotland would be a great trip too.