I love Scotch. This is fortunate, since I pretty much can’t drink any other kind of whiskey. It’s that corn allergy thing — only a nice single malt Scotch is guaranteed to be corn-free. Poor me, stuck with single malts. Well, poor in the sense that I can’t afford a $60+ bottle to enjoy properly. So, at home at least, I drink cheap single malts, usually priced somewhere in the $20s. I have a few favorites, but I’ve been craving to branch out a little more. Recently, I grabbed a few options below $30 at local stores:
What we’ve got here is:
If one Scotch is good, then three must be better, right? That meant there was nothing to it but to have a little tasting.
Typically, I like the Islay Scotches, famous for their peaty, aggressive flavors, the best. So of course I was excited to try Bowmore’s entry-level option. Reviews online are pretty harsh, which I can understand, because this is a harsh whiskey when it hits your tongue. It smells like a proper Islay, smokey and peaty, with a hint of maple. Then you sip it, and it’s… all iodine and burn? But it opens — it’s not a wine, but it opens — and the peat and smoke and maple come out in the flavor. Early or after a while, Bowmore Legend finishes sweet.
The Dalmore 12-Year
This is halfway to Bourbon in my mind. It smells very, very sweet and caramel-y. Fortunately, it isn’t as sweet to actually drink, which is good because Bourbon is sweet enough to make my cheeks sweat. The Dalmore has a pretty syrupy mouth feel, almost like you’re drinking an after-dinner drink. It’s tasty, but it doesn’t scream “Scotch!” to me. And I’m not usually much for subtle. The palate delivers on the caramel nose and color, although there’s some surprising ashy flavors in the aftertaste.
This tastes like apples and smells like apples. It’s actually quite astounding. If any Scotch could be described as “refreshing,” this is it. If you think you can guess the winner from this description, well, you’re right. It’s just a satisfying, delicious Scotch, with a unique flavor.
The Bowmore Legend is good, if you let it open; a perfectly nice Islay. Nothing special, except at the price — that’s special. The Dalmore is nice but really lacks anything to make it stand out. It might be a good first Scotch, and it is certainly a nice enough tipple, but it’s not unique.
That said, I have few fears I’ll fail to finish off all three. I’ll get back to you in a few months when I buy another round to follow this set.