There’s so many whisky thoughts running through my head right now that I’m afraid I’m going to lose some of them. So I’m going to make some quick notes in hopes of elaborating later.
1. Mackmyra single malt Swedish whisky I had a nice long conversation yesterday with Mackmyra’s New York office head, Jonathan Luks. The brand’s story is really interesting: it was starting by a group of friends about 12 years ago when they asked each other why, when Sweden is such a big market for whisky, there was no Swedish whisky. They’ve got a huge following in Sweden (more than 100,000 fans on Facebook, almost as many as Maker’s Mark has), and they entered the US market — specifically the New York metro area — in April of this year. While the brand makes more than a dozen varieties, the one available so far in the US is a light, sweet, smooth style of 100% single malt barley whisky that’s aged in a combination of Jack Daniels American oak and Swedish oak barrels.
2. The Glenrothes The Speyside distillery is about to release the newest addition to its line of vintage single malt scotches: 1995. I managed to procure sample bottles of this and an earlier bottling, the 1994 vintage. While many scotch distilleries bottle whiskies based on age, The Glenrothes has been doing by vintage. It’s a very old distillery, established in 1879, but for most of its life it created scotch for blends, and only began marketing single malts in the 1980s.
3. Teacher’s After a long and semi-scientific search for the perfect value in blended scotch whisky, I settled on Teacher’s. I wanted something I could use with abandon in cocktails, a blended scotch that had flavor, but was affordable enough that I didn’t get squeamish about mixing it. Teacher’s was created in 1863 by William Teacher, who started selling his blend in his wife’s Glasgow grocery shop. It uses, among others, Ardmore single malt as part of its blend (Teacher’s founded that distillery in 1899), and it claims to have invented to now ubiquitous “self opening bottle” — the capped, recloseable cork most single malt scotches use — in 1913. Teacher’s sells for just over $20, an incredible bargain for the quality.
4. Bowmore Legend Once I had my ideal blended scotch for mixing, I needed a great value in single malt scotch. I may have found it in Bowmore Legend, an “entry level” single malt from the Islay distiller that retails for under $30. I first came upon Bowmore Legend via an article about Rusty Nails. The simple scotch and Drambuie cocktail, Fredo Ceraso writes, is vastly improved by using a single malt like Bowmore Legend instead of a blended scotch.