How to Choose the Best Single Malt Scotch

Published: 05th July 2010
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Differing from blended scotch, single malt scotch is made from one kind of malt. It is much smokier and more flavorful than blended scotches, and is typically more expensive. There are a variety of factors that go into making a single malt scotch so distinguished ' scent, taste, color and mouthfeel, which is the way the scotch sits in your mouth. If you really want to be a connoisseur, this is the scotch for you. But since you're paying extra, it's important to know what you're getting, and how it differs from the others.

1. Choose a region: All single malt scotch whiskey comes from Scotland, which is divided into four regions: Highland, Lowland, Speyside and Islay.

- The Highland region is the largest and in the Northernmost area lighter whiskies more delicate, whiskies are distilled. They can also be salty, since they're distilled sea-side. Glenmorangie is a famous scotch from this region. The Eastern Highlands produce medium bodied whiskies, that are smooth and smoky from the smoked peat moss. Western Highlands scotches are sweeter, and have a pinch of pepper.

- The Lowlands typically produce lighter flavored scotches that are more mellow. These are good for beginners because of this.

- Speyside has the most distilleries per mile than any other region in the country, and their whiskeys are best known for being sweet and complex.

- Islay (said, eye-la) is an island on the coast of Scotland, where the most complex, smokiest and strongest scotches are made. Because of the rugged weather, winds blow sea salt into the peat, affecting the overall flavor of the scotch. These are typically better for more sophisticated scotch drinkers.

2. Age: The age of your single malt scotch whiskey reflects its smoothness. The older it is, the smoother. Although Scotch is required to be aged for 3 years, this is just a minimum ' some of the better scotches are typically aged for 15 years. 10 is youngest scotch you should buy. Scotch makers take pride in how old their scotch is, and it will be displayed clearly on the front of the bottle. No matter the age, store your scotch in a cool dry place.

3. Drinking: Many scotch drinkers deride putting anything in the scotch, since it can weaken or obscure the flavor. Some add ice cubes or a splash of water, but anything stronger is verboten. It is best to keep the scotch at room temperature. The standard procedure for drinking is much like wine ' smell, sip, swish, swallow. Repeat. Scotch straight out of the barrel can be up to 120 proof! Most of the time it's watered down so that it's closer to 80, but don't be afraid of a stronger scotch.

That's it! Now that you have a bit of knowledge about how to choose and drink scotch, go out there and buy some! If you're giving it as a gift, remember to take off the price tag, and if it's for you, don't drink it too fast.


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