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Scotch, Scotch, Scotch

January 11, 2012

So, a few weeks back I went on a little rant about single malt scotch and how they weren’t really my thing. And it’s true. They aren’t. But after doing some extensive research for the upcoming Nobler Gathering, I think I’m ready to open up. Because in reality, my aversion to the historically rich whiskeys has more to do with the attitude that too often comes with them, than from the flavors and complexity in the glass itself. But there is no denying the fascinating details that go into Single Malt Scotch and even more so, the nuance from distillery to distillery. That being said, I’m still a bourbon guy…

For the upcoming Gathering, I plan on taking the Noblers on a little tore of the Scottish regions of single malt. Often compared to the diversity of French vineyards, regional variation in Single Malt is what makes this class of whiskey what it is. As one might expect, there is still quite a bit of nuance within distilleries of a given region, but in large part the characteristics come directly from the terrain and the proximity to the water. And when your Wikipedia reference reads “The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495. A friar named John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife.”, it’s worth paying attention to what is now over 500 years of history.

While there tends to be a bit of an overlap depending on who you ask, there are four major regions: The Lowland, the Highland, Speyside, and the Islands. The Islay region is often considered independent from The Islands, and is most distinct for its peaty flavors. I think the best description I’ve heard on peatiness is the smell and flavor of “damp vegetation”. I guess it doesn’t translate so well in writing but you’ll know this flavor when you taste it. Because of the Islay location off the coast of Scotland, the marine qualities are also extremely apparent. The more recognizable distilleries available are Laphroaig and Lagavullin. As for the others…

I’d hate to give up all my secrets before the Nobler Gathering. But what about you? What are you favorite single malts?

 

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