8 Best Single Malts To Get Started With Scotch | Whiskey Raiders
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8 Best Single Malts To Get Started With Scotch

Scotch whisky is a complex drink that comes with many people who think they know everything there is to know on the subject. That makes diving into the spirits world a bit daunting for people who love drinking scotch but are unsure where to start.

We have 8 scotch recommendations that will not only be easy on your bank account but also impress the snobbiest of whisky connoisseurs.

Talisker 10

Talisker 10 is a core line expression released by the Diageo-owned Talisker distillery. It is produced on the Island of Skye, where it is the only distillery.

This is a really nice whiskey, and it is not easy to tell how young it is.

  • Nose:

    Rich, sweet cream. Brine, pepper, bananas. Lemon icing, buttercream, toffee, creme brulee, floral.

  • Taste:

    Medium mouthfeel, rich honey. Cream, toffee, salted caramel, apple crisp. Melon. Mild smoke.

  • Finish:

    Long, rich, smokey. Pepper, caramels, lemon bar, ashy smoke. Not super smokey, but it’s there. Blends perfectly with the dessert notes.

Springbank 10

This scotch has just the right blend of smokey and sweet. This scotch is from Springbank’s core line of products. Springbank is in the relatively small region of Scotland known as Campbeltown (small in respect to the population of large distillers).

  • Nose:

    Smoke, honey, light citrus, and some very faint rubber. A tiny bit of malt sweetness.

  • Taste:

    Some smoke giving way to sweet honey. The smoke isn’t overpowering, and it’s not peaty. There’s some more citrus – it all blends very nicely.

  • Finish:

    Medium to long and very gentle. Lots of smoke, followed by honey sweetness and one last wisp of smoke.

Highland Park 12

This scotch is distilled by Highland Park and from their core line of whiskeys. It’s also under $50, a great price for a scotch when you’re just starting.

  • Nose:

    At first sniff, it seems very similar to JW Black in a subdued manner. There’s more vanilla, a little more smoke, and a bit more complexity at the second sniff.

  • Taste:

    The mouthfeel is solid, coats nicely. There’s a bit of smoke, followed by a hint of sweetness and vanilla. The smoke is here without a lot of peat, although it’s not overpowering. Not much more than vanilla, some charred wood, and smoke. That’s the opposite of a problem, though.

  • Finish:

    The finish is a bit shorter than the Glendronach, but it’s not harsh, abrasive, or short-lived. It’s a little bit lower on the ABV, and there’s a little smoke on the finish.

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (14yr)

This is a re-release of Glenmorangie’s Quinta Ruban, and it adds two years to the age statement, bringing it to 14 years. It is bottled at 46% ABV with no coloring or filtering. It is also priced at around $60, so it’s not expensive to start with.

  • Nose:

    Rich tobacco, jammy fruits, cocoa, and brown butter. Malt character is there, and the port isn’t overpowering. Rich and dessert forward.

  • Taste:

    Moderate mouthfeel. A faint pinprick of heat. Plenty of caramel, toffee, some Glenmorangie bitterness. A wave of juicy fruit washes in. Red berries, currants, some grape, and jam.

  • Finish:

    Short to medium finish. Rich, stewed fruits, some cocoa, and toffee.

Laphroaig 10

 

This dram has been chill-filtered, and it is definitely smoother with a less abrasive mouth feel. With a suggested retail at around $40, it’s a great scotch to start with.

  • Nose:

    Sweet cream and buttery lemon zest. There’s brine creeping in and playing well with the lemon, and then the big peat smoke hammer drops in. There’s some nice burning telephone pole and a nice nuance of fiery rubber.

  • Taste:

    This dram is sweet but smokey, which makes for a savory combo. The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but that’s to be expected at 43%. It’s smokey and medicinal with a good hint of iodine and dead things from the sea. There’s some nice briney salt and some more sweet buttercream playing nicely as well.

  • Finish:

    The finish is short/medium but loaded with smoke and vanilla undertones. Little to no heat, which seems just about right for the proof.

Bunnahabhain 12

Bunnahabhain 12 is aged 12 years by Bunna on Islay. This is an unpeated release that contains 25% sherried malt and 75% malt aged in ex-bourbon barrels. It’s sweet and well-rounded but interesting enough to enjoy an entire bottle of.

  • Nose:

    Sweet honey, freshly baked bread. Nice light oak, some pepper, a bit of sherry sweetness. Very faint pepper, the tiniest whiff of smoke.

  • Taste:

    Medium mouthfeel. No real heat. Sweet honey, tobacco, bread-y. Sweet fruits, sherry presence, is mild but present. Light tobacco and very faint salinity and ash.

  • Finish:

    Short to medium in length, lots of currants, caramel, light bread characteristics, and some pepper.

Aberlour Abunadh

This is a chill-filtered release from Aberlour that is 12 years old. Its time in barrels is split between ex-bourbon and ex-sherry. The suggested retail sits around $45, making it a great inexpensive starter from a respected brand.

  • Nose:

    Sherry and grapes. Some cherry, some plum, some light floral honey mixed with raspberries. Sweet and inviting. No ethanol whatsoever.

  • Taste:

    Very light and fruity, almost a little syrupy, but not too bad. Lots and lots of red fruits here, primarily raspberries and then some sherry notes. Overall, it’s thin but not offensive. There’s not a lot here, but what is present is very light.

  • Finish:

    There’s a little oak, but it’s mostly fruit again on the way out. Not terribly long, but once again, it’s pretty delicate. Almost no alcohol either, but since it’s only 80 proof, this makes sense.

Tamdhu Batch Strength

 

This scotch is the definition of ‘go big or go home. It’s a bit pricier than the previous scotch whisky listed, but it’s not your typical starter scotch and is the one you want if you’re looking to impress.

  • Nose:

    Caramel, toffee, very nutty sherry. There is some fruity essence like fig and blackberry, but the nutty peanut brittle is really dominant in a savory-sweet way here.

  • Taste:

    Thin to medium mouthfeel – surprising given the proof. Some heat. Nutty, faintly sour grapes, toffee, and caramel. Fruitier than the nose but still clearly very nutty sherry. Nice peanut brittle note here also.

  • Finish:

    Medium length with some heat. Sweet toffee.

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