Scotch Whisky 101 - A Beginners Guide →

April 08, 2015 |

If you get tired of all the Apple Watch reviews, or if you just need a drink afterwards, allow me to point you towards this excellent primer on Scotch whisky by J. A. Shapira over at Gentleman’s Gazette:

I can tell you right now that if your first experience with Scotch is trying a 25 year old Lagavulin straight up, you’ll probably never try it again. When you’re selecting your first dram whether it be purchasing a bottle or trying it at the pub, choosing a Scotch will make or break your relationship very quickly. This isn’t a spirit you guzzle for the fun of it like you did tequila on spring break. For one, it’s just too expensive and second it’s not intended for that. Do you really think that the crafter spent years perfecting a whisky so you could down it like jello shots? Of course not.

That’s a phenomenal point. I’ve been extremely cautious in my own introduction to single malt Scotch whisky, in part because the first one I ever tried was a heavily peated Talisker, which left such a terrible taste in my mouth that after that I couldn’t get anywhere near a whisky glass for years.

Luckily, this time around I’m taking my time, slowly working my way up and letting my palate become accustomed to the stronger drams. After a few months, I’ve even been able to drink Talisker again and appreciate it for the excellent single malt it is.

Strongly peated whiskies like Lagavulin and Talisker are still not my cup of tea and I doubt they ever will be, but at least now I can enjoy one on occasion without making silly faces. And I definitely enjoy more lightly peated single malts like Oban, which has become one of my favorite drams.

Most importantly, now I know which whiskies to go for and which ones to avoid when I’m out drinking with friends, and so I’m able to enjoy them much more. That’s a measure of progress, and that’s how you want to approach these things.