I am finishing my Engineering degree in a week’s time; I do not officially graduate until the end of March next year though. A couple of the guy I am good friends with and I decided that we needed to do something different, something classy, to mark the completion of our degrees. Not just the typical find the nearest bar and consume copious amounts of alcohol. The suggestion was put forward to celebrate by enjoying scotch and cigars on the roof of the engineering building.
This is where my dilemma arises; I don’t have the faintest idea about buying scotch.
So I am looking for suggestions as to what I should get.
Any help would be appreciated.
What's your price range?
If you don't drink a lot of Scotch you may find that the more expensive brands are awfully smokey tasting. Scotch is basically a whiskey which has had some ingredients dried over a peat fire, thus the smokey taste. Spending $50 to $75 for a single barrel scotch that is too smokey tasting to enjoy is not fun.
I like Balvenie's Double Wood Scotch for special occasions. The double wood in the name means that it has been aged in an oak barrel and a barrel that was used to age Port. This Scotch is very smooth and easy to drink for non-Scotch drinkers. A bottle will probably set you back about $50.
FWIW, the most popular Scotch that is drunk by the Scotch in Scotland is Famous Grouse. This is usually the cheapest Scotch in my local store costing less than $20 per bottle. I hold the taste to be as good as many of the more expensive Scotchs.
+1 on the Balvenie Doublewood - really fine scotch, even more so for the price.
If you want something really special, try the Balvenie 21 year portwood is amazing.
With that said - I tend to prefer speyside scotches (honey/leather/vanilla/spice) rather than Islay and Highland Scotches (peat/smoke)
Do you actually like scotch?
A lot of people assume that they must like scotch and that scotch is this end all be all manly booze. Personally I could live without and prefer the flavors of a good bourbon(Jeffersons Presidential Select or Pritchards Double Barrel).
But, for scotch, a good affordable one that is surprisingly very good is Aberlour.
I didn't realize having teeth was a prereq for making good whiskey.
As an aside I once did a project in Fleming, KY. For those who don't know this, Fleming, KY was the place where the toothbrush was invented.
If they had invented it anywhere else they would have named it a "teethbrush".
I've taken a liking to Scotch myself. Scotch is Oakey, peatey, and smokey. On top of that it might have other flavors deep down inside of it. If you're not comfortable drinking straight whiskey, then drinking a complicated scotch will be less than pleasurable. I've heard it said that if you want to develop your palate for Scotch, there's two methods: A) Start with scotch and soda, and increase your scotch to soda ratio until you can drink scotch straight(note, only do this with blends. Someone might smack you if you mix a single malt with anything. Of course, drink what you like. Ol' Dick Nixon loved VERY expensive scotch with his Canada Dry.) or B) Drink straight Scotch until you're used to the taste and begin to enjoy it. It's a developed taste, like coffee, or for some like wine. If you're looking for a blended Scotch(read: mellow, smoother, more balanced. It's a mix of several Scotch whiskeys.) that's pretty decent and won't break the bank, Chivas Regal 12 Year, Johnnie Walker Black Label, even Dewar's 12 Year is pretty good. Single Malts have more variety(they're a single malting from a single distillery, not mixed at all) and can be pretty feisty, but to the experienced Scotch drinker, they have much more liveliness and flavor. The Macallan 12 year Single Malt is around $50, and it's mighty tasty to me. Glenlivet 12 and a few others are good too. The older the scotch and the "purer" it is, the more expensive. Single Malts cost more than Blended Malts(a blend of Single Malt whiskeys) which cost more than Blended Scotch Whiskey, as a rule of thumb, but branding also plays in here.
Honestly, drink what you like is still thing to fall back on. To me, Scotch didn't take too long to enjoy, but others really don't like it. Maybe buy a small bottle of something you want to try beforehand and give it a whirl. If it's not your cup of tea you can still be classy drinking bourbon, brandy, cognac, armagnac, or even champagne, a nice beer. Don't drink Scotch to BE classy. Drink Scotch classily because you like Scotch, and you're already classy.
I just realized Richard Nixon's nickname was censored. Good times.
David—congratulations on your graduation! Engineering is a tough slog, so yes, that accomplishment deserves a special celebration. And on the roof of the eng building! I like it!
May I recommend the 12 yr Glenlivet. Its readily available at most grocery stores and is a good ‘starter’ Scotch. A bit smoky and peaty without being too much. I bought a bottle for my nephew last year as a graduation present from Annapolis—he really enjoyed it. I would pair this with a light cigar, say a Man O’ War Virtue. Again, an easy cigar to get your hands on, yet very good.
Good luck and, again, congratulations.