Fathers Day has crept up on us again. Well, to be honest, here in the USA, its been so heavily promoted I doubt you could miss it!
As a father and aficionado of Single Malt Scotch Whisky, I cannot think of a finer gift. However, choosing a Whisky can be every bit as difficult as selecting fine wine. I’ve often found shoppers staring at the Scottish Whisky Shelves in my local liquor store in Westchester NY with that look:
“Help – what on earth is the difference between The Glenlivet and Laphraoig ? How do I choose? “
Introduction to Single Malt Scotch
In this post I will be making some recommendations and identify personal favorites among the plethora of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.
To begin, it all comes down to taste. How do you like it? Sweet? Spicy? With a touch of Heather? Or absolutely smoky Lapsang Souchong Tea Special? Or perhaps you prefer a mix of the above? Then do you want subtle flavors, or big bold and bad?
Malts in this region, such as The Glenlivet, Aberlour or The Macallan are often matured in Sherry Casks that impart a sweet spicy flavor and a darker color to the malt.
The 12 Year Old Macallan is a beast of a Speyside. Sweet, nutty and toffee like to taste deep dark and amber in color with a smooth finish and one of my favorites of its kind.
If your craving is for something that is softer and mixes its flavor , then try some of the Highland concoctions such as, a 15 Year Old Dalwhinnie, whose floral heather, honeyed taste goes down a treat.
I am keen on 15 Year Old – The Dalmore, which smells of orange marmalade, cinnamon and nutmeg and tastes of Mandarins, vanilla, ginger and apples. Yum!
The Islay Malts
For the smoky, peaty, big and bold flavors of the sea, look no further than the offerings of the curious Island of Islay (pronounced “I la”) in the Inner Hebrides.
No less than 8 distilleries pepper its 240 sq miles – including the medicinal, seaweed, pungent and slightly acrid malts of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig whose casks breathe in the sea air in warehouses by the ocean within 2 miles of each other.
Perfect served with creamy mature Mull of Kintyre Cheddar cheese. Personally, my taste in Islays veer towards Bunnahabhain – slightly smoky, light fruity and nutty and a bit gentler on the palate than it’s cousins.
My absolute favorite single malt comes from the far North of Scotland, closer to Norway than the UK, the remote Orkney Isles where the malts of Highland Park and Scapa are distilled.
A 16 Year Old Scapa is my dream dram. Honey, heather and light smoke combine and finish with malty sweetness. Simply delicious!
Some Final Thoughts
DON’T drink the stuff neat, especially if its been bottled at cask strength (generally around and above 100% proof). A couple of drops of mineral / spring water (Scottish, if you can find it in the US – good luck with that!) releases the flavor of this ancient and wonderful drink.
DO drink it in a Glencairn Glass (see pic to the right) not a whisky tumbler. It allows all those wonderful smells and flavors to concentrate and be savored and of course for Dad and you to enjoy!
Happy Fathers Day and Slainte Mhath.