I have been hearing some banter from some of the readers wanting me to review some Scotch. I love Scotch actually, but I love good Scotch that I can rarely afford. The underlying problem with whisky is that the cheap stuff is so terrible that it causes heartache, hangovers, and death. I remember the first time I drank rocket fuel (or as some call it, Johnny Walker Red) — that liquid hit my palate like a burning ball of metallic rubber, scrapping my taste buds into nothing.
I started out drinking Glenmorangie and The Macallan, before ultimately being enlightened to bourbon. I personally prefer a Highland or Speyside Scotch, though I will drink any high quality whisky handed to me. I would write an article on the differences between the five Scotch regions but I don’t want to do that — I prefer drinking and reviewing. I will say though that the regions are:
- Lowland: lighter whiskys
- Highland: sometimes dry, but generally sweeter whiskys
- Islay: “whisky island” strong, peaty, smokey scotches
- Speyside: mellow, fruity, sweet scotches
- Campbeltown: Smokey and salty
Scotch varies a lot depending on region, and with so many regions, there is a Scotch for everyone. I personally don’t care much for the super peaty, smoky stuff, but I do like some. Those ones I do like are super expensive so I don’t get to drink them often.
Today, I’ll be tasting one of those:
Single barrel, 25-years-old, aged in traditional oak
This Scotch was brought to me from Scotland by my friend, Mr. Wiggles. This Scotch, which was put in the barrel in 1988 and sat there until 2014, cost £425.00 — so like $622 American bucks. It is expensive stuff. This whisky is hand-selected by the master distiller, David Stewart. Each bottle is hand numbered and only about 300 of them are up for grabs.
Color: straw color, looks super light to be in a barrel for 25 years. This Scotch is very clean and clear. One has to remember that this whisky was in a Traditional barrel, so no char from this barrel that has probably been used more than once. Neutral oak doesn’t impart a huge amount of color. If you gave Zeus a drug test, it would look like Balvenie 25.
Aroma: smoke, has a smokey spicey aroma. Also getting like a honeydew melon rind, nice floral aromas.
Palette: somewhat dry on the palette, smoked cheese, hints of vanilla, wheat toast, honey, honeysuckle, and some bruised pear.
Final Conclusion: This is a very nice whisky. I would drink this whisky over and over again if I were a rich man (daidle deedle daidle dumb). I was very impressed with this Scotch and it is a classic Speyside whisky both in flavor and reputation. I recommend any of the Balvenie Scotches.