15 year olds are typically to be avoided at all costs, at my age, with one very important exception. And that is the world of single malt scotches. This is not to shit on some very nice blended scotches out there like Johnny Walker, Johnny Walker, and umm...Johnny Walker. Ok, I'm sure there is a reason why Chivas Regal is so popular or why Monkey Shoulder is exploding in popularity. But, that is not my realm of passion. Single Malts have a je ne se quois where you are about to enter an arena of alcohol consumption full of pomp and circumstance, of storied traditions and a world where patience is not just a virtue, it's a damn necessity.
If I had a nickel for every time someone said they loved single malt scotches and when I’d ask them what their favorite one is and their answer is a bunch of hemming and hawing I'd be able to substantially contribute to our national debt. It's hard to say you love single malt scotch and then respond with Jim Beam as your favorite scotch. I’d just smile and say "You clearly know your stuff" and then pretend a friend just came in the door. So, if you ever see me enthusiastically greet you at the door of a bar you just walked in, blame Makers Mark, Seagrams 7, or Jameson.
My love affair with scotch began by accident. I had my first toddle at a very young age and the awfulness I experienced immediately made me wonder what the hell was wrong with old people. If I wanted to set my throat on fire, I'd still be eating at Taco John's. Oh, the impertinence of youth. I hadn't yet experienced my first divorce, I hadn't owed the IRS a metric fuck ton of money, I hadn't been to the funeral of a good friend. In short, I hadn't really lived life. As those experiences started to pile up, suddenly my palate could appreciate the smoky, complex, and nuanced flavors that a scotch inhabits. And one amazing day, I had a single malt scotch with 2 rocks and suddenly I just understood. The burn in your throat is no longer painful. If you've lived life, far too often, the good things always come with a tinge of the bad. The burn was just a small price to pay for the benefits that came shortly after.
It should come to the surprise of no one my absolute favorite single malt is perhaps the most feminine in all of Scotland. On the highest glen that holds a distillery, lies a little gem between the Highland and Speyside regions of Scotland. Dalwhinnie has "the gentle spirit" on the bottle, and it couldn't be more accurate. Hints of honey, vanilla, and lemon will make the people who suffered the astringent, medicinal flavours of a Laphroaig or Lagavulin for the first time insist it is a completely different experience. Dalwhinnie is a 15 year old scotch that in my opinion drinks like an 18 year old. It still warms the throat on a cold winter's day. In fact, Dalwhinnie is in the coldest town of all Scotland. It has to do that. But, it also is perfect on a hot summer day as well.
Scotch palates vary widely, but it seems my recommendations have been met with positive responses. So, I think if you haven't delved into the world of single malts, Dalwhinnie is a terrific ambassador of this extraordinary spirit. Trivia fact: Scotch whiskies are spelled whisky. If you see it spelled whisKEY, it ain't from Scotland. Ten and Twelve year scotches are like eating a lasagna straight out of the oven. It's gonna burn like hell and you're a lying sack of nuts if you can actually taste any flavor. You gotta wait a little! And 15 years is the ideal waiting time that won't kick the shit out of your wallet. That means if you insist on only drinking 18 years or older, chances are extremely high you are a pretentious douche nozzle who enjoys showing off instead of actually appreciating what the hell you're drinking. Trust me, I've met plenty of those individuals in my life. If you see someone wearing pastel pants with a sweater draped and knotted over their shirt, you're looking at a guy who just loooooooves ordering Johnny Walker Blue and then claiming he loves single malts. Or, he's a junior investment banker who has been convinced the more you spend, the better it is. Those people are also to be avoided at all costs. Literally, a walking movie cliché.
Some other scotches I happen to absolutely love and I cannot recommend highly enough are: A'bunadh made by Aberlour, a Speyside scotch. Glenrothes, another lovely Speyside scotch, is a top contender as well. I'd say my favorite Highland scotch is the good old Glenmorangie. Lowland scotches don't really rate with me, but I figure there is a reason why the few remaining are still in business. If you insist on drinking Campho-Phenique, try an Islay scotch. But, if your first scotch is an Islay scotch and you actually enjoy it, I'm going to nominate you to join the No Fly List, because you're clearly a couple sandwiches short of a picnic.
If you have had a momentous occasion in your life, grab a good, heavy glass, drop a nice block of ice in it, pour 2 fingers of 15 year old single malt, and sit back and ponder what just happened in your life. Reflect, revel, or rue with a glass containing something that can do all three at the same time. And, whatever you do? Don't slam it, fucker….