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If one is to begin a journey into the world of becoming a connoisseur, collector, impresario and professor of the Scotch single malt whiskey- one should begin with the basics. Tasting a variety, and high-end single malts. Learn all you can about what makes scotch and whiskey’s different, as far as blends go.
Single malt scotch whiskey is becoming increasingly popular all over the world. It is a complex and versatile spirit that you can enjoy as an aperitif, alongside a meal, after dinner or as a nightcap- (remember: it can ONLY be called scotch if it is distilled in Scotland – all others are single malt whiskey if not blended with the product of another distillery).
There are many theories on tasting
- Nose the Whiskey first, getting the flavor-
Place your nose a few inches away from the glass. What do you smell? Now get a little closer. How is that? Now get as close as you can without letting the alcohol burn interfere. What other aromas are there? Keeping your mouth slightly open as you nose the whiskey will help you to better discern and ‘taste’ the different aromas.
- Taste- Sometimes it takes a while to down strong alcohol as this, but it helps in your journey of finding a scotch you like
- Add Water- Most Master Scotch Tasters teach that you should not dilute with regular tap water because the chlorine and mineral dilutes and changes the chemical makeup of the scotch. Unfortunately when attending classes you do not have access to the water used in making the original scotch as you would use in Scotland, so using distilled water will work just fine. A few drops to adding frozen cubes of this water helps to bring down the heat, or mouth feel as you begin to taste. For beginners I suggest the frozen distilled cube method. Some consider this cheating, but I prefer to entice a newbie to enjoy it as I have learned over the years.
- Nose the Whiskey– See if the smell has changed, and you should sense a difference
- Now Sip and Taste Again- Taste the flavor, by holding it in your mouth for a few more seconds before swallowing. There should be a great difference in the flavors as it opens up and you begin to grow accustomed to its strength.
- Does the glass make the scotch? Yes, using a brandy sifter, or purchasing glasses intended for scotch helps, but if you prefer a high ball glass then it works as well. We purchased a set of glasses while living in Dallas, Texas- designed for scotch tasting from Scotch Doc, and quite the entertaining guy to introduce you to tasting as well!
I took private classes from the Scotch Doc in his private Scotch cellar, and lets just say he blew off some dust off those bottles, as did a small bar when I was in Ireland once the gentleman found out I had a taste for these jewels!
My Scotch tasting journey began with Chivas Regal, and on the rocks, I mean really really watered down. After a few years, and a trip to Ireland I began drinking it neat with a few cubes, and soon learn to appreciate the finer single malts. I however enjoy Johnny Walker, and keep it in my bar for guest.
Johnny Walker- Equally recognized as the ‘Square’ bottle that fits into spaces adequately, is most recognized due to its label and the fact it offers five versions- Red, Black, Gold, Green, and Blue. JW’s Swing Label is reminiscent of the original bottles packaged and sold in the original grocery store (many wine bottles were also shaped in this manner, can you imagine turning this odd shape on its side in the cellar?)
Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch Whiskey owned by Diageo and produced in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.
It is the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whiskey in the world, sold in almost every country with yearly sales of over 130 million bottles, and next post I will go into each bottle and discuss tasting notes with explanation of recipes…
Wine Enthusiast Hot Scotch Choices, 2010 Issue-
Hot Scotches: SW=Scotch Wiskey , SM= Single Malt
- Ballentines Very Old 17 y/o Blended Scotch Wiskey
- Black Bull Deluxe 12 y/o Blended S.W. Dewar’s Founders Reserve 18 y/o Blended S.W.
- Douglas XO Premium Blended Scotch Whiskey
- Pinch “the Dimple” 15 y/o Blended S.W.
- Robert Burns Blended S.W.
- Wemyss Vintage Malts “The Peat Chimney” Blended Malt
- Arran Malt Pomerol Bordeaux Wine Casks Single Malt
- Auche toshan 21 y/o SM
- BenRiach 16 y/o Sauternes Wood Finish SM
- Bruichladdich 2001 Resurrection Dram SM
- Deanston 12 y/o SM
- Douglas of Drumlanrig Port Ellen 25 y/o
Here is a great dish to pair with any Scotch- Risotto Balls with a Stilton Blue Cheese Center; the butter fat and richness of the risotto, and the cheese give this a great edge for the sophisticated flavor of Johnny Walker Blue!