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Subject:Organizing a scotch tasting
Time:01:40 am
For better or worse, I volunteered to host a scotch tasting at work.

My plan is to bring in a bottle that exemplifies each of the major regions, plus a couple of special things out of my personal collection. I'll give a quick talk on the basics of scotch and tasting, hand out sheets for tasting notes, then walk them through the tastings from mildest to strongest. After everybody has tried one, I'll read the tasting notes from a review site.

After that, I'll have a couple of special bottles, and a couple of other people have offered to bring in some of their favorites as well.

I expect around two dozen people, some of whom know scotch and some who don't. I'm thinking cheese and crackers for palate cleansers. I'll have plenty of water on hand as well, of course. I've billed it as "bring your own shot glass", but I have a dozen available for people who didn't do that.

As for the scotches, I'm thinking the following:

Lowland: Auchentoshan
Campbeltown: Springbank
Speyside: Macallan or Balvenie
Highland: Dalmore or Glenmorangie
Islay: Laphroag, maybe also a Bruichladdich for contrast

Thoughts? Have I chosen wisely? I have strong preferences for Islays and other intensely-flavored stuff, so I don't know the other regions as well. I'll be footing most of the bill for this, so I'll be going with relatively-inexpensive mainstream bottlings.
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cork_dork
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 10:52 am (UTC)
It seems perfectly reasonable to me; each of those is a good example of the regional style. You might also want to contemplate including a blended scotch, just to show off how more intense the single malts can be.
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whipartist
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Time:2010-12-08 04:05 pm (UTC)
The invitation specifically says "No blends. I'm a snob."

Plus, I want to keep the number down to something reasonable.
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clutch_c
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Time:2010-12-08 02:18 pm (UTC)
You could probably cut down to 4 by leaving out Campbeltown, not really a major region. If you do include the Springbank I would order it between the Highland and the Islay.

Personal taste, I prefer Aberlour to Macallan and Aardbeg to Laphroaig.

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evwhore
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 11:43 pm (UTC)
Typo? There's only one a in Ardbeg.

If the audience is primarily whisky novices I would go with more of a starter Islay like Bowmore or Bunnahabhain.
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clutch_c
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-09 02:32 am (UTC)
Right, Ardbeg. Half the time I spell it Aardbeg and half the time Ardberg. Not sure why I have trouble with it.

I like your suggestion of Bowmore, I think Laphroaig is too much of an assault on the tastebuds for the uninitiated. That's why I suggested Ardbeg, but maybe it is too.
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evwhore
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-09 04:06 am (UTC)
I love Ardbeg, but don't know if I would subject first-timers to it.
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whipartist
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Time:2010-12-09 08:16 am (UTC)
Ah. I *want* to assault their taste buds.
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clutch_c
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Time:2010-12-09 01:09 pm (UTC)
The first time I tried Laphroaig (after having experience only with blended scotch plus maybe Glenfiddich and Glenlivet) I found it to be vile. I thought maybe it had been spoiled or adulterated. It was several years before I tried Islay malts again. But if that's the effect you're looking for...
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dd_b
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Time:2010-12-08 03:02 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you know them somewhat better than me; but none of this plan strikes me as wrong, for whatever that's worth. (I don't think I've even had Bruichladdich or Springbank).

Three of us ran a series of wine tastings in the local fan community way back, and that was a lot of fun. Hope your scotch tasting is at least as much fun!
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drj0402
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 04:33 pm (UTC)
Speaking as a person who doesn't know much about Whiskey, how about a print out of a map of Scotland showing where the regions are?

Are the differences mainly due to the production methods of each area or are they due to the land and the environment?

Is that included in the basics?
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 04:35 pm (UTC)
Included in the basics.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 04:52 pm (UTC)
Oh. And in Scotland, it's whisky rather than whiskey.

The differences come from the grain used, a lot from the water source, the way the grain is dried, the barrels that are used for aging, the climate that the whisky is aged in... all sorts of things.

If you're familiar, the process of making whisky is approximately, "Make beer. Distill. Age."
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misterajc
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 05:11 pm (UTC)
Laphroaig has an "i" in it. Bowmore (also sold as McClelland’s) might be good as another representative of Islay.

Glenfiddich is the most widely available single malt. You might want to include it as the entry level malt. Or maybe get a bottle of the Glenfiddich that was aged in port casks so that you can have whisky that matches your hair.

I'll see if I can score some Scottish bottled water. I don't think it's right to mix fine Scotch with American water.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 05:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, of course it has an i. My keyboard needs to be cleaned, though.
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rhiannonstone
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 06:43 pm (UTC)
There is pink whisky?!
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misterajc
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-08 07:48 pm (UTC)
Not perhaps quite as pink as Patti's hair, but the ones aged in port casks do take on a pinkish color. I think I'm confused, though and it was Glenmorangie and not Glenfiddich that has a fairly commonly available port cask edition.
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filthy_habit
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-09 03:45 am (UTC)
Macallan 12 is pretty easy to find for those who want to go independent and develop a taste for it. In addition, they have a lot besides age to experiment with, such as Fine Oaks and Cask Strengths. My main "affordable" choice these days is Mac 15 FO.

Balvenie 15 is good, but Doublewood is a better starter scotch.

I never liked Glenmorangie until I hit 18. I assume you are probably going to stay younger than that.
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whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-09 05:31 am (UTC)
I like the Auchentoshan a lot. And I like someone's suggestion of the Arberlour. And Laphroiag doesn't do anythng for me, but both Ardbeg and Lagavulin are dreamy.
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wordweaverlynn
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-12-09 08:35 am (UTC)
Your workplace is cool.

I'll take the Islays myself.
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[icon] Organizing a scotch tasting - Patti
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