As a Scotch drinker, I found Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Scotch an immense help in learning about the different Scotch regions, and the subtler differences among the individual whiskeys. He is, I suppose, to scotch what Robert Parker is to wine.
With no small assist from Mr. Jackson, I discovered that I prefer the Islay malts, with their earthy, peaty qualities– hey, I’m a savory kind of guy.
In fact, I hold my slightly weathered Third Edition Guide (1994) in my hands. Yes, I am the kind of geek who read it cover to cover when I first got it.
I don’t remember too many factoids from it, but I did get a sense of the variety of whiskeys out there.
“Whiskey,” by the way, comes from the Scots Gaelic word “usquebaugh,” meaning “water of life.” Fitting. So, “whiskey” = “scotch.” Everything else needs to find their own names.
My favorite Scotch? I did state my preference for savory scotches, particularly from the Islay region–Lagavulin and Laphroiag are frequently in my glass, as are the various Bowmore varieties and the occasional splurge of an Auchentoshan 21-year-old.
However, I am often drawn to the Balvenie “Double-Wood” — a Highland malt that takes its name from being aged in bourbon and sherry casks, giving it a bit of a sweeter flavor that is a bit different from my usual dram. Michael Jackson gave it an 87 in the Third Edition.
What’s a real shame is that Michael Jackson is a beer authority as well, and I haven’t gone through his writings on that topic yet. I will have to do that, I am sure to learn a thing or three.
And yes, I did title this post the way I did in part to be obnoxious. I like to be transparent about this stuff. Welcome to my blog, fans of the King of Pop.
* Hat tip to Chip Griffin and his Cork and Knife blog for pointing me to the Whiskey Podcast.