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Looking for recommended smoky whisky

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RedmondBarry started a discussion

Hello all, just joined this great site. I'm looking for opinions re: my next whisky purchase. I would like to get something a bit sweet with a rich mouthfeel, dry smoke and minimal alcohol burn. Some maritime qualities are nice too. My favorite bottles so far have been Lagavulin 16, Highland Park 18, and Talisker 18 (can't find this one anymore). I also have a bottle of HP12 open right now that is pretty good (not in same league as bottles above though), and have enjoyed Johnnie Gold Label, Balvenie 17 rum cask,and to a lesser extent Dalwhinnie 15 in the past. I've tried laphroaig 10 and can enjoy it sometimes but the industrial flavors sort of turn me off. Really didn't care for Balvenie DW (burnt orange peel, too syrupy sweet, too much burn), Glenlivet "French Oak" and a younger bruichladdich (very thin, very little flavor).

Here are some bottles I'm considering: Ardbeg 10; Clynelish 14; Springbank (?); laphroaig CS or QC; Bunnahabhain 12.

Any thoughts? Should any of these be avoided if I'm looking for a wood smoke and smooth profile? Or trying to avoid industrial/medicinal flavors?

Any opinions welcome. Thanks.

12 years ago

20 replies

Peatpete replied

McCArthys Oregon Single malt. also has a lot of smoke, a fair bit of peat, and very little of the iodine or medicinal flavours. I found that it has suprisingly little alcohol burn. Not strictly a scotch, but made in the style from barley that is malted in scotland, it can be hard to find, but tends to be very well priced and is a great whiskey.

12 years ago 2Who liked this?

@smokeybarrels

@RedmondBarry I would recommend Ballantines 17 year old. This is a blended whisky, and was world whisky of the year (Jim Murray whisky bible) 2011. It has a lovely smokiness to it, and is just an all round gem, with the best bits of all the regions for me. If you love the HP18 and Talisker I'm sure you wont be disappointed by it.

12 years ago 0

kian replied

Take a look at the benromach 10 year old. The bunna and clynelish are 2 good options but i would pass on the ardbeg and qc if laphroaig wasnt to your taste.

12 years ago 0

RedmondBarry replied

@kian - thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into the benromach. I love lagavulin but there is something about laphraoig 10 that I didn't care for. Curious about Ardbeg but perhaps I'll sample it at a bar before buying an entire bottle.

@smokeybarrels - thanks for the suggestion. ballantine's sounds interesting (especially if you find it comparable to Talisker 18 and HP18), I will see how much it costs around me.

@peatpete - thank you, I will see if I can find that Oregon whiskey around me. I've never heard of it before and don't recall ever seeing it on the east coast.

12 years ago 0

@two_bitcowboy

@RedmondBarry here are a few somewhat unusual ones you might consider: Arran Machrie Moor -- perhaps not as smoky as you're looking for but I think it meets your other criteria Isle of Jura Prophecy -- nice peat smoke Longrow CV -- more smoke than the others and maybe a little more aggressive Enjoy

12 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

Another thought: try Connemara Cask Strength. My wife Dramlette likes to say that it tastes to her like church incense smells.

12 years ago 1Who liked this?

@jeanluc
jeanluc replied

@RedmondBarry You might like Caol Ila, dry smoke and sea salt are some of its defining characteristics. I wouldn't say it was rich but it is quite oily.

12 years ago 2Who liked this?

@OCeallaigh
OCeallaigh replied

If you want rich, sweet and dry smoke, I recommend the Ardbeg Uigeadail... but it's at cask strength and there is more than minimal alcohol burn... but add a fair amount of water and you can fix that. :)

Also Talisker 10, and @Victor had a great point with Connemara cask strength. Normal Connemara is great too, but I would call it more of a sweet peat than a dry smoke.

12 years ago 0

Peatpete replied

Everyones palate is different, but to me of the Islays that I have tried Lagavulin is the smokiest, Ardbeg is the peatiest and Laphroaig is the most iodine flavoured (assuming here that iodiny isnt a word...) Its been a while, but it occurs to me from memory that Johnnie Walker Green is pleasantly smoky as well. It is certainly a very good vatted blend. I have never tried Gold, so I have no idea how they compare. Here is a link from the distillers site for advice on where to find the McCarthys: clearcreekdistillery.com/where-to-buy.html/ Good luck!

12 years ago 0

RedmondBarry replied

Thanks for all of the suggestions. They all look so good, so I think I big factor in my decision will be availability. To clarify, when I say "minimal alcohol burn" I mean a whisky that is not dominated by the smell and taste of raw alcohol. To my palate lagavulin 16, HP18, and the like do not taste or smell "raw."

@peatpete - your take on the differences between lagavulin, laphraoig and ardbeg is interesting. I hear the Uigedail is more like lagavulin than the standard 10 year, so perhaps I will take @OCeallaigh up on his suggestion one day.

Looks like I have a fair bit of research to do. Now if only I could find a bar that stocks half of these bottles around me...

12 years ago 0

boardsy replied

@RedmondBarry I may upset the die hard Talisker fans but I really enjoyed the Talisker distiller's edition(1999). I thought the Amoroso sherry cask finish added an extra dimension that was really pleasant. Especially nice when coming in from the cold.

12 years ago 0

Smokehead replied

the first whisky came to me as a suggestion would be Connemara,sweet peatiness in a smooth velvet Irish body. Tho currently I have an ardbeg ugiedail n am chaining it up because i am afraid it can be done in a day,its that good:)

12 years ago 0

@Pudge72
Pudge72 replied

@Peatpete ...I was fortunate enough to try a sample of the McCarthy's courtesy of @dbk and @victor (sorry, couldn't remember who specifically supplied the sample, so I should credit both with the multiple samples that they have provided to me...very much appreciated!!) and it is a very nice smoky whiskey.

12 years ago 0

Peatpete replied

@Pudge72 I looked for it for ages before finaly getting a bottle, but when I found it I was suprised at how cheap it was. I think I paid about $60, and for how in demand it is, and how good it is, I would probably not have complained about paying half as much again.

12 years ago 0

@lan2424
lan2424 replied

@RedmondBarry -- You're on the right track (and had the best, in my opinion) if you've already had the HP 18 and Lagavulin 16. If you are looking for an Islay-style, without the burn or intense palate and finish, then you may want to avoid the Ardbeg, unless you are daring. I would definitely try the Caol Ila 12yo, and, if you can find the peated Speysider, BenRiach Curiositas 10yo, it, too would be worth a try. You mentioned Laphraoig QC... nice choice (another personal favorite), as well as is the Laphraoig Triple Wood & 18. The Bunnahabhain 12 was just O.K. to me... nothing noteworthy, but left me with a dull smoke, drying rubber palate and lacking balance from nose to finish... not the complete experience.
Welcome aboard to Connosr. David

12 years ago 0

@JoeVelo
JoeVelo replied

You should consider Talisker 10 , maybe Benriach Curiositas. Like others suggest, Connemara Peated and Longrow CV (heavily peated) are also very good. For a treat, Bruichladdich Octomore or a PC8. Ardbeg Supernova? In the vatted malts category, I prefer Big Peat but don't add water, it just kills it.

12 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@RedmondBarry, I agree with JoeVelo that Ardbeg Supernova 2010 is one that I think that you might really like. It is pricey, though. (You might like the Supernova 2009 original too, which most reviewers consider both stronger and better than the 2010, but it will be hard to find now.)

12 years ago 0

@Abunadhman
Abunadhman replied

The Highland Park is a magnificent Whisky as several members have pointed out and I'm not sure that there are many Whiskies that deliver what HP. does in such a sophisticated package. The gorgeous and subtle peat smoke is due in no small part to HP's exclusive use of shallow- cut peat and I'm not sure it can be found at this level anywhere else (?) The balance of HP is second to none.

But there are other Whiskies and one of the better Bowmores (15yo. 18yo.) might be interesting for you without 'blowing you out of the water'.

Good Luck.

12 years ago 0

RedmondBarry replied

I wanted to update this thread and let all of you know what I eventually purchased. After reading many reviews I went to the liquor store and picked up a bottle of Ardbeg 10, partly because it was cheaper than Caol Ila 12, Laphroaig QC, Longrow CV, and many of the other suggestions in this thread.

I have to say that I've always been hesitant to try Ardbeg, mainly because it has such an extreme, "love it or hate it" reputation. Plus, and I say this not to offend, the many and very vocal Ardbeg lovers on the web seemed like some weird cult,and made me skeptical. Well, I guess you can color me converted, because I am very happy with my purchase! I've only had a dram so far, but I can say that this is a very smoky whisky that is not overly medicinal or industrial tasting imo (I don't get any of the nasty flavors I've seen in some of the more negative reviews on the web). What's funny is that the 10 year is much more accessible than I expected; my Wife, who thought Dalwhinnie "just smelled like alcohol," remarked that the nose on the Ardbeg smells "good, like a clam bake or camp fire or something." I guess it just goes to show how subjective whisky can be.

12 years ago 0