June 13, 2006

A Taste for Scotch

I like beer. I like wine. I'd like to like scotch, but I honestly find it repulsive.

I've been told it's an acquired taste, and I'm game to try and acquire it. I see no reason why I can't be a sophisticated bon vivant. (Except that I had to look up how to spell "bon vivant" and double check that I was even using it properly.)

Most importantly, I'm going to chart my "taste" for scotch. I'm curious to see how long it takes, will it be overnight or a slow crawl, etc... This is assuming I do acquire one at all.

One question is which would be the ideal starter scotch. There's a lot of choices out there. Suggestions are appreciated.

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Posted by Steven | Archive

go to scottland.

Posted by: SK at June 13, 2006 9:50 AM

Balvenie Double Wood is an excellent starter scotch. It's inexpensve, it's fairly complex without being overwhelming, and it goes rather nicely with sliced silkworm larvae, you sick bastard.

Posted by: octopede at June 13, 2006 9:54 AM

Might as well start with Dewers. I've had worse.

Posted by: The Retropolitan at June 13, 2006 9:55 AM

Seriously - stick to choco-breastmilk. You're better off.

Posted by: Jason at June 13, 2006 9:56 AM

I think you should start with road tar. That will really allow you to appreciate the comparative virtues of scotch.

Posted by: Joe at June 13, 2006 9:59 AM

I as well do not like the taste of scotch. I do however like how it doesn't give me hang overs or makes me sick to my stomach! Now I just need to lean how to not make a face like I'm drinking gasoline when someone pours me a glass.

Posted by: LuciferSam at June 13, 2006 10:00 AM

Chivas Regal... the 12 year should be fine.

Posted by: Gary at June 13, 2006 10:00 AM

Do you have any of the tree-brain left over? It could make a nice accompanying side to the scotch. Imagine a tray of sliced tree brain and a small glass of scotch on the rocks. Mmmmm.

Posted by: David at June 13, 2006 10:02 AM

Aquired taste? If you don't like scotch, you don't like scotch.

I'm partial to Geln Dronach myself.

Posted by: Ivan Marsh at June 13, 2006 10:04 AM

Apparently I've had one too many already... that should, of course, read: Glen Dronach.

Posted by: Ivan Marsh at June 13, 2006 10:07 AM

My bet is on 2 months

Acquired tasted usually cannot be forced on. Your body's tastes naturally change over time (ie, becoming more bitter and odd). If not in 2 months, give it a few years and yo'll naturally be more inclined to it

Posted by: Peter at June 13, 2006 10:09 AM

Single Malt not blended and don't skimp on price, if it's on sale it's going to taste like floor cleaner. A good place to start is Glenlivet, then move on up to Highland Park.

Posted by: will at June 13, 2006 10:09 AM

I trained myself to like coffee by drinking fruity coffee drinks and eating coffee ice cream.

So obviously the answer is to go get yourself some scotch flavored ice cream and work your way up from there!

Posted by: ESC at June 13, 2006 10:09 AM

Go for single malt - and skip the Dewer's. It's horrible.

If you'd like to ease into scotch, start with some whiskey - A bit of Bushmill's with a tiny bit of ice or water is a good start.

Then get yourself a nice Speyside single malt. I'd stay away from Islay, as the saltiness is a bit too much for the unacquainted pallate. I like Macallan's.

The following advice will make most single malt drinkers shudder with horror, but to start out, add one cube of ice to your scotch - just one. This will take a bit of the burn away.

Posted by: Scotch lover at June 13, 2006 10:10 AM

Is Johnny Walker Black scotch? That's the first alcohol I ever had to drink - thievery in high school is my explanation - my older sister Jackie was waaaay too trusting. My impression - YUCK!

Posted by: jali at June 13, 2006 10:10 AM

It took me a little while to develop a taste for scotch. To the untrained palate, it ranks about two notches below kerosense on the yum-o-meter.

You'll like it eventually.

"Mmm I love scotch, scotchy, scotchy, scotch."
- Ron Burgundy

Posted by: Mike at June 13, 2006 10:13 AM

I second the Balvenie note. Dalwhinie (sp?) is a great one as well, and Obon (sp?) is another favorite, although quite expensive.

Posted by: Mike at June 13, 2006 10:13 AM

Any of the Glen's.

Posted by: Jenny at June 13, 2006 10:15 AM

It seems everyone starts with Glenlivet. It's a decent and affordable entry-level scotch. Unfortunately (like most everything I suppose) as your taste develops the price goes up. I always keep Oban on hand. Macallan 18 year-old is probably my other favorite.

Posted by: Liquidmantis at June 13, 2006 10:16 AM

There are two routes you can take: trying a blend or a single-malt. Blends are meant to be user-friendly and cheaper than single-malts; they consist of cheap grain whiskies in addition to single-malts. Single-malts vary as widely as blends though.

For a GOOD but not too cheap blend, try Johnny Walker Black.

For single-malt, try Lagavulin (smells like dirt, tastes like heaven). Some like The Macallan: it's aged in sherry casks given it a sweet taste, which ain't my thing. Glenlivet 18 year old is superb - a good, all-round scotch I'd give to anyone to try first.

And don't drinking it with fucking ice or pop. Just a little water.

Good luck.

Posted by: Jody at June 13, 2006 10:18 AM

My in-laws drink scotch. They epitomize the bon vivant style you're looking for... sipping scotch before dinner, listening to New Orleans jazz and thinking they're being baudy and risque by listening to such raucous music.

You know the type: they love to entertain. Butter requires a butter knife, and you just have to have the right china and crystal (ad nauseum). At dinner, the drink changes to wine (they're partial to reds, Shiraz or Merlot preferrably) and the music changes to classical.

These people are stuck in a 1954 cocktail hour nightmare.

My advice: drink what you like. Fuck scotch.

Posted by: Wendy at June 13, 2006 10:20 AM

Buy american - drink bourbon. Actually this is a good way to get your feet wet without the peaty taste that so many dislike about scotch. Start with a Basil Haydens bourbon.

If you are really want to get into scotch I would say try Oban. Nice flavor or if you can convience one of your fans to buy the bottle - Johnny Walker Blue ;-)

Posted by: thumb6 at June 13, 2006 10:22 AM

My philosophy's always been simple when it comes to decisions like this: if I need to acquire the taste, I don't want to.

Posted by: Spoonman at June 13, 2006 10:23 AM

Steve: I hesitate to use the phrase "check out my blog" when posting comments, but I've done a few amateur Scotch tastings that you can read about, and there will be more in the future.

And don't buy Oban for your first bottle. Too pricey. Lagavulin is like eating peat. No sh*t. ;). You may never finish the bottle, even if you enjoy a taste.

So go check it out (now, with pictures!) http://themikestand.blogspot.com


Posted by: mike at June 13, 2006 10:33 AM

I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly...

Posted by: AW at June 13, 2006 10:34 AM

The sctoch I first aquired a taste for was Johnny Walker red. I'm too cheap for the black label. At the start of the bottle I didn't care for it. By the end of the bottle, the thought of it made my mouth water. mmmmm

Posted by: LV at June 13, 2006 10:35 AM

I tried scotch once and it was really bad. I's also be interested to try it again, but my guess is you have to get good and mostly plowed then just sneak the scotch in. Drink it whilst already drunk and it may not be too bad, kinda like cheap vodka or 151...

Posted by: aighead at June 13, 2006 10:35 AM

I used to not like scotch and drank only beer and martinis. But then at one period in my life when I started to frequently fall asleep at bars, I switched to Jack&Coke for the caffeine. After about a year of this, I started craving the flavor of the scotch/whiskey/bourbon family. Since then, the palate has been refined to fully enjoy the essences of a single malt.
Try the Jack&Coke training wheels.

Posted by: John at June 13, 2006 10:38 AM

I would recommend Glen Morangie. Its got a hint of sweet butterscotchy flavor to it. One of my personal favorites is Oban but I wouldn't start there. Stay away from Lafroig to start. It smells like paint thinner and only comes out at 4am when you are rip roaring drunk.

Posted by: dave at June 13, 2006 10:38 AM

It's somewhat like gay sex.

Scotch, too, is an acquired taste...

Posted by: Neil at June 13, 2006 10:40 AM

glenfiddich is always a good starter. it's not as expensive as many of the other single malts, and is generally considered to be a great choice.

and it's tasty. yummy. scrumdiddlyumptious.

Posted by: the EYE at June 13, 2006 10:42 AM

You'll be a freak amonst men if you actually end up liking beer, wine AND scotch. This trifecta should not exist in the real world.

Posted by: DD at June 13, 2006 10:43 AM

My first impulse was to say that you should start with a blend and work your way to the single malts. It occurs to me though that is a bit like walking slowly in to freezing water. You may never get past that certain point....
Dive right in! Try Laphroaig. It's a bit like taking a bite out of a recently burnt pile of peat, but I like it.

Posted by: nonamegiven at June 13, 2006 10:44 AM

hey, DD, i like that trifecta! bring it on. beer, wine, and scotch. those are my top three. not in that order though... rather: scotch, beer, wine (red).


Posted by: the EYE at June 13, 2006 10:47 AM

well...just to get a taste of both worlds, try Dimple...
As the description goes: "Dimple Blended Scotch Whisky contains a high percentage of malt whiskies including Glenkinchie and Linkwood."
very la-de-da...however I don't know if it's available in the US...though I heard it may be called Pinch as well...

Posted by: rubyred at June 13, 2006 10:48 AM

steve - ignore anybody saying start low or start cheap. i first drank cheap blended scotch and hated it! somebody conviced me to try glenlevit, and i thought it was alright, and then i tried glen morangie 18yr, and was hooked!

dont start low. go single malt to start, no matter what. youll be better off.

Posted by: the EYE at June 13, 2006 10:50 AM

So, how many men did it take for you to acquire the taste, Neil?
Anyway, I tried acquiring the taste for scotch once, but gave up. Ive very easily fallen into the taste for red wine, though.

Posted by: ben at June 13, 2006 10:50 AM

First off, if you don't like Scotch, have something else. There's plenty of other stuff to like.

Second, I do like Scotch now, but did not from the start.
Once a friend chose the mission to "teach" me how to drink it AND like it.
He took a high longdrink-glass and put a good handfull of big icecubes into.
Poured Scotch over it and told me to "swing" the glass for a while, so you cold hear the sound of the icecubes clonking together.
After 5 minutes or so, I was allowed to have a first sip.
And for some reason I really liked it. Might be, that the water from the icecubes took a bit of the alcoholic taste away.

So you might want to try it this way and see if it does it for you. Anyway, warm scotch right from the bottle is no good for first-timers.

As far as brands go, I'd recommend Chivas Regal, 12yo. It's still resonably priced and a very good blend.

Once you have become a Scotch Afficionado, try a glass of Lagavulin. Very different, but awsome.

from Austria

P.S.: Nowadays, I very rarely drink my (good) Scotch on the rocks. Instead I put a single drop (litereally!) of water in it. Nothing else.

Posted by: Wolf at June 13, 2006 10:55 AM

Allot of people who know nothing about scotch seem to want to offer advice on this subject.
If you want to start, start small, and only drink single malt. Blends are junk.
Stay far away from Islay. Too strong to be used as a warm up to this nectar. You want to start with something mild, but with character. Mostly lowland stuff, but some highlands would fit the bill.
Lagavulin, and Laphroaig are not where you want to start!
Here is the order in which to aquire you new love of scotch.
1st Dalwhinnie
2nd Glendronach Sherry cask
3rd Glenmorrangie 15yr
4th Cragganmore
5th Auchentoshan 3wood. $$$ but worth it.
6th Oban
now you can get into stiff stuff.
7th Bowmore 15year
8th Lagavulin/Laphroaig tie for nasty goodness. Once you can stomach this, you are good to go for just about anything.
Follow this order and you will be in love with scotch, and in need of a new liver.

Posted by: john at June 13, 2006 10:58 AM

I'd go for Glen Campbell, Glen Fordd, or Glen Frei. I would, but I don't like scotch. I like Irish just fine though - Tullamore, Black Bush... that stuff is just fine. And I can drink bourbon till the cows come home, which they don't very often since I live on the third floor. So I get good and drunk. So it all works out pretty good.

If you really want to learn to like scotch, how about starting with vodka and slowy adding lichens and bog-heath to it slowly over time? Or using butterscotch, and slowly removing the butter? I'm sure you can think of something else to do with it....

Posted by: dan at June 13, 2006 11:01 AM

Steve, and anyone else that's interested - I was in your boat almost 2 years ago. I had tried to like scotch but found it too hard to start. Then, for my birthday, someone gave me a bottle of Macallan's 12 year old. There were 2 other scotch drinkers at that birthday party, so plans quickly changed from staying in to going to a local scotch bar (I live in Baltimore - Birds of a Feather is the best of several scotch bars i've been to in many cities). We asked the bartender how to get me started - i ended up drinking 6 or 7 different kinds that night and liking all of them. all were single malt, all were neat (i.e. nothing added) with a glass of water on the side.

I would suggest this method highly, as it has not only worked for me, but for several other people to whom i paid it forward.

A word of warning - some people decided that scotch was definitely not for them, but they did enjoy the process.

So, that's my input - find someone in your group that knows a lot, or find a small scotch bar (preferably one that does NOT allow smoking - as they say, you can smell and taste the difference, and i'm a smoker), a knowledgeable bartender, and move forward from there.

Posted by: Ben at June 13, 2006 11:12 AM

Why not just drink what you really want?

If you want to be a "classy" drunk, just drink what you want and tell everyone it's $400.00 a bottle scotch.

That way everyone wins.

Posted by: T-Meister at June 13, 2006 11:24 AM

i love boooze.

Posted by: booze fest at June 13, 2006 11:25 AM

I went for 2 weeks to Scotland, and decided before hand that it was of the utmost importance to learn to not only appreciate, but also enjoy scotch.

I am a snob at most beverages (beer, wine, coffee, etc) so I decided that Single Malt was the only way to go. The steps I took were as so:

bought a bottle of a popular single malt (don't remember which, was probably Glen Fiddich) began drinking it with a splash of water and ice...once i decided I could stomach that, I refrained from the water and used only ice...then after a while began drinking it neat. At this point I started "liking" scotch and started drinking other Single Malts with the goal of finding one or a few that were complex enough that the Scots wouldn't find me too touristy...

My trip to Scotland was fantastic and the Scotch was equally as good.

2 bits of advice though; never drink anything with the words "Sheep Dip" in the name, and never drink any Scotch from Odd Bins that costs under 15 quid.

Posted by: jeleyman at June 13, 2006 11:27 AM

Keep in mind there is a difference between Scotch and Whiskey. They are no the same thing. In closing, i still think the Mini is a chick car.

Also, i would go with Johnny Walker Blue Label

Posted by: Eric at June 13, 2006 11:37 AM

Well, it seems that many people's opinions range from cheap blends to the most expensive single malts. Personally, it's all up to you. Is price an issue? Do you want to continue in the scotch spectrum, say from blend to single malts? Or just to try it? Its up to you. Some reference information (it is old though, and I haven't checked the links) can be found here:
It has a list of books, websites and groups for your viewing pleasure. Hopefully, they will provide you with some useful information. I like both blends and single malts, it just depends on my mood and the occasion. The first scotch I tasted, I think it was Johnnie Walker Red Label, I instantly like and progressed from there. Hope your search go well. Cheers!

Posted by: JK at June 13, 2006 11:42 AM

I dunno. Good luck. I've been trying to eat cantaloupe without gagging for 30 years now....Scotch, no prob.

Posted by: Michelle at June 13, 2006 11:43 AM

Johnny Walker Blue is an excellent choice though pricey for "acquiring" the taste of scotch. My advice would be to go with Johnny Walker Black, heavy on the ice with a splash of water. It helps take the initial bite out of it and by the time you're on your second one you'll be good to go.

Posted by: Damien at June 13, 2006 11:45 AM

Go for Scotch tape. You like that in a few seconds. It's great.

Posted by: ross at June 13, 2006 11:53 AM

Ugh . . . good luck. I've tried aquiring a taste for it, as a couple of my friends like to wax poetic about the joys of good Scotch, but after many attempts, it still tastes like roofing tar to me.

Posted by: Daphne at June 13, 2006 11:53 AM

i say drink jack till you barf...like three times, and from then on scotch will taste way better...worked for me!

Posted by: morbo at June 13, 2006 11:54 AM

My first post here! New to the Sneeze world...but over the past week while I had nothing to do at work, I read the entire sneeze archives!

Anyway, on topic: My husaband is a huge fan of Glenfiddich, single malt, aged 12 years. Here is the website for it:


Posted by: Mae at June 13, 2006 11:58 AM

I'm a scotch girl from time to time, but my husband hates it. We were talking about why I like it and I decided I love the hot feeling I get at the back of my throat when I drink it. That said, you may want to abort your scotch mission now....i'm just sayin....

Posted by: Tammy at June 13, 2006 11:58 AM

My advice would be to stay away from scotch all together. If you want to drink something grown up, try bourbon maybe. Although actually the thought of any of it makes me want to gag. I like rum, rum and then some rum. Have been drinking primarily only rum since my 21st birthday, sometimes wine, never whiskey, bourbon, or oh dear god, scotch. Of course, I had a very bad experience with scotch a long time ago. I have never been able to touch the stuff since.

Posted by: Diane at June 13, 2006 12:01 PM

If at first you cant get hooked on scotch, Try bourbon. Here at virginia Tech we tend to go with a Wild Turkey. It has a nice smokey afterflavor. Not to mention itll get you drunk

Posted by: Doug at June 13, 2006 12:03 PM

I'm actually not old enough to drink yet so I dont know if I'd have a taste for scotch but I do know its very difficult to make yourself like something.

I tried to make myself like mayonaise and it was impossible. The texture is too gel-ish to be a solid and too stiff to be a liquid. It doesnt fucking fit.

Anywhoo good luck.

Posted by: Ashley at June 13, 2006 12:22 PM

I actually gave up beer for a while and endeavored on a "fine champaign cognac" experiment very similar to this. While I didn't record my experience in any scientific way, it only took 3 or 4 incidences for me to begin appreciating my new abuse. And who doesn't love drinks that give you a buzz just from the smell?

Posted by: jeadly at June 13, 2006 12:30 PM

I emphathize with ya brother. I didn't like heroin at first, but I started hanging around with other junkies, tried different varieties and now it's all I can think about!

Posted by: Stinkyboy at June 13, 2006 12:32 PM

Rather than 'scotch,' how about trying 'crotch'? Also an acquired taste, but it will actually thank you in the morning instead of leaving you with a dry mouth and headache.

Posted by: WhatIHate at June 13, 2006 12:47 PM

I first learned how to appreciate whiskies at a degustation where we were taught how to distinguish Scotch from the Irish whiskey and Bourbon.
Basically, the scotch are usually the only kind that are made in open ovens, which gives it this distinctive smokey smell and taste. Then on the scale of strong tastes, you can climb up to the Islays which are very strong in smoke and marine flavors.
Depending on how you like smokey tastes you may want to start with a scotch or an Irish.
But my advice would be to start with one of each (avoid the cheap ones is generally good advice) and compare: the best way to get to like the tastes is probably to discover the subtle differences you can have beyond the first impression that you seem to find revolting for the moment.
Always go single-malt (non-blend), above 10 years of age (although there are some really good ones that are younger but you need to know which ones).
My preference for non-Islay, easy to find and reasonably-priced brand goes to Knockando. If you find the special reserve, go for it, the price difference is nothing when compared to the improvement in taste.
I don't know how it goes with fermented soy beans though.

Posted by: Boudin at June 13, 2006 12:49 PM

a scotch tasting chart (web?!?!) is at http://www.scotchwhisky.com/english/tasting/how_to/enwords.htm

i like it simply because it uses the word Esters. i like that word.

tasting scotch is almost as snotty as tasting wine, it would seem.

Posted by: Pauly at June 13, 2006 12:53 PM

Steve -

Under NO circumstances should you start with a "blended" scotch (Dewar's or the like) - it's crap.

Stick with single-malt Scotch (and prepare for sticker shock). I'd recommend starting with a 12yr Macallan (a fine Speyside) or Glenmorangie (a Highland). Good single malt scotch is warming and SMOOOOTH.

Check out the Wikipedia entry before you get started: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch_whisky

Oh, yeah - Avoid the Lagavulin until your tolerance is built up ;-)

Posted by: Brett at June 13, 2006 12:59 PM

Try Dewars. Then move to single malt.

Posted by: Michael at June 13, 2006 1:09 PM

Start with Scotch tape. After that, Scotch (the beverage) has got to taste better than the tape.

That will give you a start in developing your taste for Scotch.

Good Luck!

Posted by: Elvis at June 13, 2006 1:09 PM

A trick to acquiring a taste for tough-to-enjoy spirits is to make it a part of a great experience. I got hooked on chianti because I had it at one of the most incredible concerts I've ever been to. Tequila and I became amigos in a hot tub in the middle of MN on a beautiful summer night. I was introduced to Irish whiskey while on a trip to Ireland and we've been inseparable ever since........I think I've got a problem.

Posted by: liamd at June 13, 2006 1:10 PM

glenn levit is a good starter. you'll want to avoid, for now, laphroigs and the like (too peaty). single malt only, older is smoother. NEVER water or ice.

Posted by: jeff Johnson at June 13, 2006 1:13 PM

Macallan 12yr is a beautiful drink.

Also, you must drink good scotch neat. Rocks will spoil the flavor.

Posted by: Jones at June 13, 2006 1:20 PM

don't listen to jones, i love the flavor of rocks!!

Posted by: Tammy at June 13, 2006 1:23 PM

Try Oban, one of the older ones. Smoother ( read: more wussy ) than the Glenlivet or Glenmorangie.

I have the same problem with Blue (Bleu?) cheese and Belgian beer, and am taking pretty much the same approach with those...

Posted by: blanders at June 13, 2006 1:24 PM

I started out drinking Consulate blended scotch whiskey. good luck!

Posted by: james at June 13, 2006 1:36 PM

Everybody drinks that stuff on movies and bad TV shows, but I thought most hard liquor like that tastes pretty nasty straight up.

Maybe I just prefer fruity, girly drinks. Or a nice Corona, if I'm feeling manly.

Posted by: Fade To Numb at June 13, 2006 1:40 PM

In my experience avoid any scotch that scotch drinkers say to drink as it will usually burn a hole through your entire digestive tract on impact. Brands I've tried that I found to be only slightly worse than sucking terpentine through a dirty sock: Dewar's, Jameson, and the one I found in the back of my step-dad,s liquor cabinet (I think the label fell of sometime during the later nineteenth century). The only other one I've tried was Bushmill and it pretty much did what I described in the first sentence. I've heard that McCallen is pretty good though.

Posted by: starjacked at June 13, 2006 1:44 PM

Just discovered your site and read it...uh, well, cover to cover? First page to end page? Whatever.

I have 3 older brothers who used to throw obligatory keggers when I was a kid and they were in high school. Friend and foe alike plied me with beer. I hated it. Everyone tried to convince me that I would get used to the taste when I grew up.

Never happened. I hate beer, wine, scotch, all of it. Gives me the shivers and tastes disgusting.

Your quest for oneness with scotch may remain an unrealized dream. At least you can get loaded on beer, though, since you like that. That's good.

Posted by: Stacy at June 13, 2006 1:48 PM

Stick to the lowlands anything that is smoked with peat moss is tasty in my book. Also I like it with plenty of ice and a little splash of water. Also think about the foods you match your scotch with. I like smoked foods (duck, trout, salmon, turkey) and eggs with lowland scotch.

Posted by: Sethonious at June 13, 2006 1:50 PM

Good lord, the Macs and Glens are going to hunt me down for this one...

You want to develop a "taste" for Scotch, but the stuff is so strong your throat seizes up, and all you can think is, "Is this supposed to taste like burning clutch?" So you go looking for help. Understandable, but you're looking for advice from the readers of The Sneeze. You might as well be selling your virginity on eBay.

In an effort to be the highest bidder, however, I'll offer this. Go to the liquor store in the hoity-toity part of town and spend $30-$40 on whatever they have in the little airline bottles. Get the Glens (and the Gelns) and anything that has an inappropriate number of consenants, but go ahead and pick up a Dewars White label and anything else that looks like it was made in Nepal. Then take them home and put them in a cool, dark, dry place while you screw together your courage.

Get 4 bottles of water; put 2 in the fridge and leave 2 on the counter. Turn the fridge up. (If you are impatient, use a cocktail shaker, you want the cold water really cold.) Gather a couple of rocks glasses (no paper, no plastic, this is scientific.) Now go and find the Scotch. Your son probably has it. There should be some left, he's small.

Put some cold water (about 2 ounces) in a glass. Choose one of the Glens at random. (Don't do the Dewars yet.) Pour about 1/4th of the little airline bottle into the glass. Swirl it a bit to mix it up and then take a taste. No need to sip, no need for fear, it' comatose, you've won. What do you taste? If you use the word "earthy" I swear I'll slap the crap out of you. Now try it with the room temperature water. How is it now? Which was better? Write that last bit down you'll need that later.

Rinse. Repeat.

After a while you should start understanding why people actually drink scotch. It's like tasting brown sugar, if brown sugar was a really old hooker. Sure it's nasty, but it's also a little comforting, and it's not going to kick you out of bed because, really, you are the best it can do.

After you've tried them all (one sitting please) decide which one you liked best with cold water. Take a glass and put a little crushed ice in it, and then pour the rest of the bottle in on top. Do the swirl again and take a sip. How's that? Sip it; remember, it's dangerous now. If you bought enough of the little bottles your tongue should be just numb enough to take it without tightening up.

Once that's gone take the one that was best with the room temperature water, and pour it in a glass by itself. Now look at it. Nope, there's no way you're man enough for that yet. Best go get a big bottle of the "cool water" one and leave "neat" for that fat bastard that got you drunk.

Posted by: TFB at June 13, 2006 2:14 PM

aquired taste is when all your tastebuds die out after you ignore their cries of pain.

Posted by: Sabriel Abhorsen at June 13, 2006 2:15 PM

Scotch is like wine,sort of anyway.

Single malts are the best,everyone a different

take. Not for getting drunk really stick to wine or

beer for that.

Posted by: panama at June 13, 2006 2:19 PM

just do a couple a shots of everclear first...I find that after that you like everything :) haha

Posted by: Jessica at June 13, 2006 2:25 PM

There really isn't any choice here, go with the Johnny Walker. I'm a fan of black label myself.

I would suggest having a bourbon and a beer as well as your scotch (in the same sitting), but then again sometimes I listen to George Thorogood too much. Perhaps use them as a warm-up to get yourself intoxicated enough to like scotch?

Posted by: Tits McGee at June 13, 2006 2:26 PM

I'm not a big scotch person however my husband is. He recommends Laphroaig (slightly expensive) for a really good Scotch. Glenmorangie 18 is also a good choice.

Posted by: Shannon at June 13, 2006 2:31 PM

Neat scotch and eggs, Sethonious? What are you, some kind of pervert?

Posted by: Drink at June 13, 2006 2:39 PM

woodford reserve is a reasonally priced bourbon,but if wish to like scotch go for single malt glenmorange,is over 100usd a fifth but ull love it!

Posted by: oxyacetylene at June 13, 2006 2:42 PM

Scotch with Poo. Scotch with Poo. Scotch with Poo. WHOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO

Posted by: RAR at June 13, 2006 2:43 PM

My first experience with scotch was Oban. A waitress at the local brew pub described it to my boyfriend (who then described it to me just before I tasted it) as 'Yummy', and I have to agree. I've had a few others, but none stand out.
I've been told that you should try your scotches neat, with 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% water.. just to see how you like it, and how the flavours change the more you dilute it.

Posted by: SalamanderGirl at June 13, 2006 2:43 PM

Maybe a can of chocolate frosting would be nice with it. Take a sip of scotch, savor it for as long as you like (or can handle) then eat a spoonful of chocolaty sweetness. If you get to the point where you finish the scotch before the frosting, you may have acquired the taste for it. Just a thought.

Posted by: Alyx at June 13, 2006 2:50 PM

I'd go for Glenlivet, to start out with. Personally, I like it chilled, so I keep my bottle in the fridge, then let it warm up a bit before drinking it.

That said, I'm a tequila girl. I like Patron and Corzo - very nice silver (unaged) tequilas. Yummy.

Posted by: Kestrel at June 13, 2006 3:04 PM

Jesus, man. If you want malt, stick to good German beer. No man should be subjected to the hellishness of Scotch in any form, unless you like giving our gag reflex a good workout.
check it out: http://loonville.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Love Whip at June 13, 2006 3:16 PM

I've always liked the whisky from the Islay district. Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Bunnahabhain.. There are a few more, but I haven't tried them (yet!).

Out of those, Bunnahabhain is a bit "lighter" than the others, and might be good to start with. It doesn't really have the characteristics of the Islay whiskys though.

Caol Ila would go in between Bunnahabhain and the others, as it has some of the "tar" taste, but not the "smoke".

Lagavulin is like taking a deep breath over a campfire compared to the ones above, but as people said above: Perhaps not for beginners, but something you'll maybe begin to enjoy over time. ;)


Ok, here I'm babbeling about Islay, but most people would perhaps suggest that you would start somewhere else...

I have no suggestion really..
My adventures with whisky began with blended whiskys like Famous Grouse and such. Good whiskys to get drunk on. I was still in that age that the buzz was more important than the taste. I continued to just buy famous grouse and beer, and traveled around on musicfestivals, partying my ass of.... But that's another story...

After I GREW UP, I got a bit curious about what else there was in the world of whisky, and tried some single malts like Glengoyne, Glenfiddich, and Glenmorangie. I found them interesting, but it wasn't until I tried Laphroaig I really found the difference between "good" and "bad" whisky.

I'm no expert, I just know what I like... Islay... ;)

Posted by: Nisse at June 13, 2006 3:18 PM

I read every comment, I found the group of them to be absolutely hilarious. And now, I'm thinking about picking up some scotch on the way home....

Posted by: Kels at June 13, 2006 3:21 PM

You should turn that post into a poem. It's aching to be lyrical.

Posted by: todd at June 13, 2006 3:28 PM

You should go for the Highland Mark Scotch - hmm, hmm good. Now, if a young, brazen female like myself can handle it - you most certainly can!

Posted by: Ronan at June 13, 2006 3:36 PM

Absolutly start with glenlivet 21 year old and if that seems to expensive to start with then go with the 18 year old.My father named me Glenlivet (middle name)so I am required by law to like it but it is really good.The taste of the oak is really plesent in the older ones.Another thing is ice some people will tell you never to add ice and to add water to keep the integrity of the scotch but personally I can't find a better way to drink scotch than on the rocks or sometimes I just keep the whole bottle in the freezer and have a nice cold drink for sipping.One more thing Personally I think christmas time is the best time for scotch.

Posted by: shean666 at June 13, 2006 3:44 PM

Have you ran this idea past your wife yet?

Posted by: maybeknott at June 13, 2006 3:44 PM

I started with scotch ans soda. Tastes good. Got me hooked! Scorsby is the best cheap one.

Posted by: Splugy at June 13, 2006 3:49 PM

Coupla smart people up above said that you should give bourbon a shot (hee hee) and they're exactly right. Warm, sweet, soothing deliciousness that makes you feel good all over. None of that weird peaty soapiness that makes me gag on Scotch. And it's made right here in the good old USA, with easy to pronounce names, so it's patriotic, to boot.

And this is the golden age of bourbon, for sure -- there are so many great ones right now. Try the Van Winkle 15 year old, or if you're really rich, the 20 year old; Makers Mark is a solid standby; Elmer T. Lee is delish; AH Hirsch 16 year old is fabulous; Booker's unfiltered packs a huge punch; there are just so many.

Don't be suckered by Scotch snobs.

Posted by: Straleno at June 13, 2006 3:52 PM

Find some SPEYBURN. It tastes like $80 scotch, but usually can be found for about $25.

Posted by: drew at June 13, 2006 3:55 PM

I had a friend make me a Rusty Nail when I was in college - scotch and Drambuie. It was probably more Drambuie than whisky, but it tasted sweet with a bitter undernote. I liked it. Gradually, the ratio of Drambuie to scotch was adjusted so that it was more scotch. Finally, I realized that I enjoyed the taste of the whisky by itself. That was nearly 30 years ago. Needless to say, I've learned to appreciate the finer aspects of a good scotch whisky since. You really haven't lived until you've visited the Scotch Whisky Heritage Center (http://www.whisky-heritage.co.uk) in Edinburgh, where for 10 pounds you can sample four single malts from each of the four regions of Scotland: Islay, Speyside, Highlands, and Lowlands. I'm partial to Highland scotches myself, but to each his own. Balvenie Double Wood is an excellent value for a single malt. There's a fifth of Speyburn (Highlands) in my bar right now. For blended scotches (not a true scotch, imho), Chivas Regal if you have the money, or Grant's if you don't.

And be sure to remember the old Scottish proverb:

"Never drink whisky without water, and never drink water without whisky."

Posted by: The Steves at June 13, 2006 3:57 PM

Yeah according to straleno you should do something completely diffrent than what you want because it is more patriotic plus trying to pronounce something other than hot dog is really hard to do and could make you look stupid so be sure to stay in the bubble you are in and don't try anything new.

Posted by: shean666 at June 13, 2006 3:58 PM

Humor, my friend, humor. Why the hair trigger? Perhaps you should relax with a nice shot of Bourbon!

Posted by: Straleno at June 13, 2006 4:03 PM

personally i'm grateful to steve for posing this question because i was just sitting around wondering how many giant pussified scotch snobs were sitting out there itching to weigh in at length on this very topic. phew, i can lay that one to rest now.

Posted by: Tammy at June 13, 2006 4:04 PM

I've never understood the purpose of an "acquired taste". You'd probably become numb to hitting yourself in the head with a hammer if you do it long enough, but why bother? Myself, I don't drink coffee or tea or most alcohol because the first time I tasted them (and a few times subsequently) I plain ol' didn't like them and thought "why the heck would I torture myself to get used to this?". Thus I think the bigger question should be "Why 'acquire' the taste in the first place"?

Posted by: Steve at June 13, 2006 4:06 PM

This will be a good study. we can see many sides of The Sneeze. The beligerant and angry sneeze. The funniest Sneeze ever. Maybe even that empty, hollow and unfullfilling sneeze..

Posted by: Asmodeus at June 13, 2006 4:07 PM

Butterscotch is my reccomendation.

Posted by: stoo at June 13, 2006 4:08 PM

See if you can find some very small bottles of one of each of:

light group: Cardhu, Dalwhinnie
Pepper group: Oban, Talisker
Peat group: Lagavlin, Cragganmore

You will get a better feeling of what you like best.

Posted by: Brent at June 13, 2006 4:32 PM

jamesons!! start out with ice and let it melt a bit, or add water if you aren't patient, and sip slowly. jamesons is what my husband tried to get used to scotch. now, mind you, it isn't **real** scotch. since it's made in ireland it is "irish whiskey." all whiskey is basically scotch - what makes scotch, well scotch, is where it's made. the basic beverage concept/flavor is still pretty much the same though. try jamesons and move up to real scottish scotch. that's my two cents.

Posted by: denise at June 13, 2006 4:43 PM

The first comment on the list may still be the best. I thoroughly enjoyed Canadian Whiskey before my trip to Scotland but I still liked to mix it with soda. I had tried and tasted a few different kinds of Scotch before but had a take it or leave it relationship with it. Like you, I had made a conscious decision to acquire more of a taste for it since much of my family had gotten into it over the years.

I toured along the coast, through the Highlands and out to the Isle of Skye before threading my way back through Edinburgh to Glasgow. We spent as much time in the pubs as possible en-route and I came to two conclusions: Proper single malt Scotch could be the finest hard liquor on the planet (Cane juice Caribbean Rum pulls in a close second) and the Cask Ale they serve in the pubs there puts all other beers/ales/lagers I had ever had to shame. A lot of these Cask Ales are served at room temperature or just below and are not carbonated. Most beer drinkers will say "Ooooo, yuck!" but if you haven't tried it how can you have an opinion. We toured through the Talisker distillery while on the Isle of Skye and I was thoroughly impressed. The landscape and location of the distilleries has such a major effect on the taste of the scotch. For many people a trip to Scotland is out of the question so acquiring a taste for scotch could be much harder.

As previously suggested in the comments it is best to stick with single malts. This way you will properly taste the countryside, oak, peat, kettles and traditional process of that specific distillery. One of my personal favorites from the trip was Royal Lochnagar which is not available here. Some that you should find in North America that are worth trying would be: Highland Park, Balvenie, Dalwhinnie, Taliker, Lagavulin, Glenmorangie, Glenlivet and Isle Of Jura. There are many others worth trying but these are my personal favorite distilleries.

You might do well to find a pub in your area that caries a large scotch collection. Go a few times with a friend that enjoys good scotch and will sample with you. Stick to two or three at a sitting so you can compare and don't get overwhelmed. Some people like their scotch with a few drops of room temperature distilled or filtered water to "open it up". I would suggest trying this as it may make the taste acquiring easier for you. The water will bring more of the "nose" out in the scotch and will take a bit of the edge off. Do not use ice or tap water as this will impede you from properly tasting and enjoying the drink.

Learning to enjoy scotch will help you to savor many other types of liquor as well. I have found some excellent Canadian whiskey recently that I enjoy almost as much as Scotch and drink the same way: straight up or with a touch of water. Look for Forty Creek Barrel Select if you like the Balvenie Doublewood. Gibsons Finest 18 Year Old Rare is also an excellent choice. You may also find that good rum is more appealing to you as your taste for scotch grows. It is easier to come across good rum in the US than in Canada, which is unfortunate for those of us living north of the boarder.

One main thing to keep in mind is that mixing good liquor should be considered a travesty. You can buy cheap, mass produced spirit for this purpose and you mix it because if you try to drink it straight you feel like someone dumped gasoline down your gullet and tossed a match in after.

Scotch may be an acquired taste but the process of acquiring need not be a bad one if your approach it in the right way and pay the money for the good stuff.


Posted by: Drewfus at June 13, 2006 4:51 PM

I spent several years developing a taste for scotch, trying many brands like Dewars and Chivas, and after about 6-7 years of aquiring a taste I had a breakthrough. the brand that finally made me see the light was ... Jose Cuervo. Yeah, I finally realized that I DON'T LIKE Scotch. I do like tequila. My advice to you is, drink what you like, life's too short to spend time aquiring a taste.

Posted by: fyrgod at June 13, 2006 5:03 PM

as someone already pointed out, the whole point of an acquired taste is not that you should try to like something you don't until you do. your sense of taste changes over time so you might find that you'll suddenly like something that you never liked before: when I was a kid I accidentally took a big gulp of wine from my grandma's glass and i thought it was disgusting, however nowadays i do like wine.

as for the whole whisky situation I guess that there isnt a formula to go by so just try a few and see how you like them.
Personally i got started with Jameson on the rocks by a buddy of mine and eventually went on to try different single malts and found that I like Oban a lot (I think it has a good balance of fravours). I also like Laphoraig, but a gain, its very peaty and smoky and almost leathery.

Posted by: Angryitalian at June 13, 2006 5:21 PM


Scotch is the best! I prefer to say whiskey. Its less pretentious than saying scotch, plus it sounds more hardcore biker/rocker.

You can drink it, get a good buzz and almost no hangover the the next morning.

I suggest either Chivas Regal or Johny Walker black label. Not red label! It must be black label. Now, if you have the means.. I suggest Johny Walker gold or blue label.

Next time I'm up to your neighborhood, we should definately have a scotch together! Also my sister lives near you and she has a Mini that she never uses, so if you want to test drive it, we can take a spin.

And No, I'm not some psycho fan of the Sneeze. I'm your ol' pal, Darryl. Me, you, Giles, "baby pants" John and Vahe used to work togther.

Posted by: Darryl at June 13, 2006 6:00 PM

My friend Shannon hates beer. So, she'll get jacked up on vodka, then drink the beer, and be completely oblivious to the fact.
Try that...maybe in the end, you'll require an unknown taste for it. Then wake up sober one morning saying, "I'll think I'll have some scotch."
And like it.

Posted by: MahTin at June 13, 2006 6:19 PM

I feel your pain. As hard as I try, I can't make myself like the taste of beer.

Good luck on your journey to liking scotch. Hope you don't get alcohol poisoning before then.

Posted by: Ruth at June 13, 2006 6:27 PM

I would recommend, first and foremost, a tour of whisky distilleries in Scotland. It's like wine tasting - you won't know what you like until you've tried a few (and no, not in a row, and no, not to get so blottoed that you can't taste anything anymore).

Personally, my favorite is still the first one I ever tried - based on recommendations in Scotland from people who heard I'd never had Scotch before - Macallan. Lovely stuff, mild but still flavorful, and I almost always have it with ice or cut it with cold water.

Posted by: Jessica at June 13, 2006 6:32 PM

for a good scotch to start with try Teacher's. and if you need more info on them go to www.scotchwhisky.com

Posted by: shiv at June 13, 2006 6:42 PM

one word. Tequila.

Posted by: book at June 13, 2006 7:03 PM

Chivas Regal is very smooth and easy for the beginner!

Posted by: Manton at June 13, 2006 7:09 PM

Hey, does anyone know where I can get some free ringtones?

Scotch Guard is nasty stuff, stick to the glue.

Posted by: Jeff at June 13, 2006 7:11 PM

I'd try Sheep Dip if you can find it. It's imported from Scotland. It's nice and smooth.

Posted by: Kisa at June 13, 2006 7:18 PM

"Old Grouse" is my recommendation, or pretty much any brand mixed with ginger ale and an ice cube.

Posted by: atmikha at June 13, 2006 7:30 PM

Ah, back in the day I used to like a little bit of Glenlivit, but I'd drink Johnny Walker (any frikin color) if that's what was available. Over one summer my dad tried to develop a "taste" for scotch whilst watching baseball in his boxers, and we ended up having to haul him out of the tub on a pretty regular basis. Just a cautionary tale...have fun!

Posted by: mary at June 13, 2006 7:45 PM

McAllan whiskey. http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/drinks/macallan-single-malt-whiskey/318455/

It's aged in oak casks previously used to hold sherry... an old tradition not really used by anyone else. Honestly, the old, the better. It may be more expensive, but it is really really the good stuff. There is nothing better in the world of scotch/whiskey.

Posted by: Leda at June 13, 2006 8:00 PM


The first time I tried scotch (in college) a friend had a bottle of Glenfiddich - I liked it so much, I drank the whole bottle. I distinctly remember vomiting Cap'n Crunch Berries into the bushes on campus the next morning on my way to work. This is known as "disacquiring a taste" for scotch. I have since found it nearly undrinkable.

I like American whiskey/Bourbon, and Canadian blends, but these tend to have much less character, hence less to hate (or love).

I noticed among my frat brothers (a solid group of drinkers if ever there was one) that there was only one real rule that I could see; guys who liked Tequila (te-kill-ya) tended not to like Whiskey of any kind. Vice-versa. Since I've already stated I like Whiskey, you know where I stand.

The guys that I know who like scotch tend to drink single malts - they have the most character (i.e. an identifiable taste, whether it be peaty, mossy, earthy or just plain shitty) so it follows that a blended scotch of any quality ought to be a more gentle (hence more palatable) introduction, since any individual quality will be muted.

I agree with the others who suggest that Irish whiskey might be a good introduction, since it is triple-distilled, and smoother than scotch. On the other hand, it still tastes pretty much like scotch, so this argument is like suggesting one brand of piss is better than another because its purer. Piss is piss, regardless of purity.

Finally, when you figure out that learning to like something you are consuming sucks compared to consuming something you like, may I suggest:

Mount Gay Rum. It's good straight or mixed, and it's the sort of thing pirates and ne'er-do-wells of all stripes might've drunk. And you seem like you might fit one of those two molds.

Posted by: Lanval at June 13, 2006 8:02 PM

Obans on ice. Sip. The price tag may be intimidating but as I explained to a mate once, that bottle is supposed to last you a month, not a weekend.

Posted by: Xtine at June 13, 2006 8:09 PM

I would suggest Crown Royal or Glenfiddich. Neither are ostentatiously overpriced, nor bad tasting. They're relatively smooth and don't feel like you just sucked down crushed glass in dog urine. Not...that I've ever had that privilege...or anything.

Posted by: fabo diablo at June 13, 2006 8:19 PM

My Grandmother once told me that when at a party or on a date one should drink only straight scotch. This is for two reasons:
1) It's not mixed with anything, so you always know exactly how much you've drunk.
2) It tastes BAD (or so i've heard, never having had scotch) so you probably won't drink very much.

Posted by: Ivy Lash at June 13, 2006 8:36 PM

My favorite is Laphroaig. It is quite medicinal tasting and I think its endorsed by Prince Charles - for what thats worth.
Oh, wait - you didnt ask what my favorite scotch is.
My everyday scotch is Dewars. I think it is pretty accessible and inexpensive as well. Buchanan's is good but cheap.
Good luck.

Posted by: Dan at June 13, 2006 8:43 PM

While my favorite is The Macallan, for a beginner I highly recommend Dalwhinnie. It is on the expensive side, but highly drinkable.

I now prefer The Macallan neat, in a snifter (of course!) You'll want to start with Dalwhinnie on the rocks.

In general, I like the sherry-wood aged whiskeys the best.

As much as my father tried... I can't drink Glenlivet or Glenfiddich, and find Glenmorangie a little harsh.

Were it my money, I'd start with Dalwhinnie. You'll work your way up to The Macallan in no time.


Posted by: Phil Gabler at June 13, 2006 8:43 PM

i'd suggest dewers and water....the water keeps you hydrated so no pesky hangovers...p.s. once you aquire a taste for scotch you get to be part of a very 'special' group of people...we like to call ourselves 'alcoholics'....enjoy

Posted by: evelyn at June 13, 2006 8:45 PM

Scotch is piss filtered through smoked peat that was eaten and pooped out by sheep with hemorrhoids. Real men drink Irish whiskey! Jameson is the best, unless you want to spend $125/bottle, in which case, Midleton Very Rare is the way to go. Yum!

Posted by: GISAP at June 13, 2006 9:05 PM

I saw some show on the food network and was amazed at how complex scotch is. I too have never aquired the taste but I thik that is becuase i don't understand it. Below is a link that helps clarify the types of scotch.


Posted by: the_other_steve at June 13, 2006 9:27 PM

I probably ought to have read all the comments, but I didn't. Given the number of them, I have no expectation whatsoever that this will get read at all. Nevertheless:

Someone above suggested Glenlivet. They also said "don't skimp on the price". How about "don't skimp on the quality"?? Glenlivet is entirely undeservedly famous. It's absolutely horrible, with no complexity of flavor whatsoever. This may not be entirely true of the older ones, like the 18. Dunno, never had it. I was SO unimpressed with the younger one that I didn't bother.

Dewers and Chivas... you might as well drink White Horse. Those're good for mixing, but they're crap, despite the price tag on the Chivas. If you're going to acquire a taste for scotch, you've got to drink it neat. Otherwise, all you've acquired is a taste for mixed drinks with scotch in. If you're going to drink it neat, you've got to be drinking single malt.

Personally, I got started with Aberlour. The cheapest one is pretty good. It's not particularly fashionable or well known, but it's a good sherry-cask-style scotch that doesn't have the utter weakness of flavor that the cheaper Macallan has.

Nevertheless, preferences are highly variable. I like Aberlour a lot. YMMV.

Posted by: Ira at June 13, 2006 10:09 PM

you can get used to anything, the question is just how badly you want to.

Posted by: brian at June 13, 2006 10:10 PM

One other thing:

Rocks are for blends! They numb your tongue.

Regular strength scotches (which mostly don't need water) change dramatically in flavor as minute amounts of water are added. This means that if you don't like it try adding a few drops (literally!) of water, and see how the taste changes. This also means that if you hold the scotch in your mouth, as saliva rushes in to save your mouth from being burned away, it dilutes the scotch, changing the flavor.

Please experiment with this.

Dalwhinnie made me think of this because—to my palate—it needs a touch of water. I generally use a bar straw (half length) and half fill it with water, then add that to the scotch. For Dalwhinnie, that's enough.

Posted by: Ira at June 13, 2006 10:15 PM

Yeah...I tried that too....I get my 10 year chip soon though.......

Go Steve

Posted by: G-force at June 13, 2006 10:46 PM

Single Malt Scotch all the way. Its like wine, better (subjective) more expensive is smoother and less "hot" (alcohol content ie:burn) than cheaper brands. A good deal has to do with your palate.
You should try maybe weening yourself on to Whisky first. It's cheaper and some have similar taste profiles. Although if going the whisky route, try to stay away from sour mashes. (The exception to the rule, that I've found, is Jack Daniel"s Single Barrel) Makers Mark and Woodford Reserve are smooth, relatively inexpensive, starter whiskys.
Now for the Scotches... My favorite three are Glenfiddich 18 Ancient Reserve, Glenmorangie 18, and the wonderfully character filled Lagavulin. The last I would have you taste if it is available, because it is an experience you won't soon forget.

Posted by: NolaDayLaborer at June 13, 2006 11:12 PM

how about... f*ck scotch... just drink beer/wine if you need to drink alchohol at all!

Posted by: Jonny at June 13, 2006 11:31 PM

Went to a cheap trick concert a few decades ago with a bottle of chivas borrowed from the liquor cabinet and have been a fan of both ever since. Recommend you grab a few different brands and go to a concert. Also goes well with square meat balls....

Posted by: greensmurf at June 13, 2006 11:59 PM

Wow, wide disparity of opinions here! Don't know how you'll make enough sense of it to determine a strategy. My personal experience is that I drank bourbon for a few years because it was affordable and familiar. But the first time I got my lips around some Johnny Walker Red, I was enamored. Haven't been able to touch bourbon since. From JW Red, I moved on to older (i.e., more expensive) blended scotches and found they were even better. Ultimately, I found myself diving into the world of single malts and I've never looked back. My personal fave is Lagavulin, but there have been several mentioned here that have piqued my curiosity. I've never cared for the "standards" like Glenmorangie and Glenfiddich. I believe that means I prefer the Islay region (still have some things to learn about the various geographic differences).

So my experience was a stairstep process. I don't know if I would have liked Lagavulin without working my way up to it, but I might have. I'd suggest trying a single malt first and if it doesn't agree with you, step down to the finer blended products and work your way up.

Oh, and regarding the ice/water/neat issue -- I think the ice helps a bit when you're trying to adjust to the flavor but ultimately you will find yourself using less ice and enjoying the pure scotch with just a bit of water. It's a natural progression.

Posted by: Darren at June 14, 2006 12:53 AM

First, "WHY" drink at ALL, seems like a good question!? Usually, one that pursues it openly and above all, wishes to expand it's course, is always up to the questions and fears of one's owe manhood, sorry to report.
That said, IF for some reason, you must STILL seek out and crush those fears of your lack of manliness, got for a classic drink, i.e. "Drambuie" and skip Scotch altogether! NOTHING GOOD, can be said about an alcoholic beverage that has its first stages of fermintation pocessed through the crotch panel of a Roller Derby Queen's panty hose, (AFTER a losing game, no less, but always the ones used!), before being bottled..............

Posted by: El' weirdo at June 14, 2006 12:55 AM

Just pretend you enjoy it. Talk to your friends about the taste and feel in your throat.... there's a logical sdolution to everything!

Posted by: Johnny at June 14, 2006 2:00 AM

jim beam isn't scotch, but fuck, it's jim beam. JIM BEAM.

Posted by: joe at June 14, 2006 2:44 AM

"For relaxing times,
Make it Santori times"

- Bob Harris

Posted by: Japan at June 14, 2006 2:49 AM

I'm with Jim Beam guy. Fuck having to aquire a taste for anything. Either it's good or it's bad. Anyway, everyone I've ever known who drinks Scrotch is a dick. Don't become a dick.

Posted by: Rocky at June 14, 2006 4:09 AM

I first started with glenfiddick.

Add plenty of water to help you get started.

I however am in Scotland, not sure if you will find Glenfiddick easily?

Posted by: Dougal at June 14, 2006 4:46 AM

any scotch will do... as long as it's not a blend of course. Single malt, Glenn Fiddich, Glenn Gary, any Glenn..."

Posted by: Eric at June 14, 2006 5:20 AM

Screw Scotch, Just have some Makers Mark bourbon...

Posted by: Josh at June 14, 2006 5:26 AM

I remember being a little kid and taking a drink of my grandpas glass of milk and spitting it out because I was like YUCK. Thats when I found out my grandpa liked to drink scotch and milk together. Now that I am older I tried my grandpas scotch n milk again and really its not to to bad...he claims it coats his stomach and doesnt bother him as other hard liqours do. You may want to try that....its scotch n milk on the rocks.

Posted by: Brenda at June 14, 2006 5:37 AM

Cluny is a nice light Scotch. I put half a shot into my I love lemon tea and it is yummy. This does not win points for sophistication, but it did help me learn to like Scotch in something other than a rusty nail.

For Irish whiskey, Kilbeggan's is awesome and even made by Irish people, unlike Bushmills. I put a bit in my coffee after dinner. I like both Irish whiskey and Scotch neat too, but the Kilbeggan's taste takes a lot less acquiring than any Scotch. Still for sipping straight, brandy is my preference. Song of Solomon is my personal affordable favorite.

The single malt Strathmill I have is good Scotch; it has a very chocolatey flavor with a nice peaty finish. I don't recommend it if you don't already like Scotch.

Posted by: lee at June 14, 2006 5:40 AM

I'd suggest Jameson, Irish whisky. The 17y variant is quite smooth. On general Irish whisky's are smoother and have a less 'tarry' taste. Bushmills is also good for acquiring the taste

Posted by: Bugger_Me at June 14, 2006 5:43 AM

Hey, I have not acquired a taste for scotch either, but here's what I did. I went to the distillery in Scotland (The Dalmore) that sold the most expensive bottle of scotch ever (about 70 grand) and had a taste. Yeah, it wasn't a 70 grand bottle but it made by the same people so it should be some of the best in the world right? well, it pretty much sucked so no I don't have to bother acquiring one since I know 1: it will only get that good, and 2: it might get better but I will never acquire that much money.

Posted by: Nat at June 14, 2006 5:46 AM

Someone commented about 151 earlier. 151 haunts my dreams. I took a shot of 151 straight up once and thought I'd need an esophagial (sp) transplant.

I was literally clutching my throat in my kitchen.

I have absolutely no words of scotch-related wisdom as I have never tried the brew. But, hey! If you wanna try it, DRINK UP.

Ron Burgundy would be proud.

Or ambivalent.

And then he'd pour himself a glass.

Of scotch.

Posted by: TheIdleReceptionist at June 14, 2006 6:19 AM

I think you gain a taste for scotch when you stop hearing that soundwave that apparently only teenagers can hear.

Posted by: John at June 14, 2006 6:31 AM

any kind of alcohol will do the trick =)

Posted by: MONE at June 14, 2006 6:34 AM

I've come to like scotch the same way I've come to like beer and wine (though I'm still not a huge fan of wine): I thought I didn't like it because I'd been drinking the cheap, crap kind, or at least a type that didn't suit my palate.

When I had the blanket belief that I didn't like beer, it turns out I just don't like pissy macro-brew lagers. I discovered that I do like porters, dark ales and stouts.

Similarly, the first scotch I ever had was a neat shot of Crown Royal which made me want to cry, it was so bad. Then I tried *sipping* Dalwhinnie, first with trepidation and then with gusto as I found I *seriously enjoy* the taste. It's smooth and warming and yummy and yes it does change as you add water or ice.

Posted by: kathleen at June 14, 2006 7:02 AM

If you're a scotch hater you are probably a bourbon lover.

Posted by: Mike at June 14, 2006 7:03 AM

Give Oban a try -- I found it to be most user-friendly at first. Not too smoky/medicinal as some are.

Avoid Laphroaig for now.

Posted by: Stu at June 14, 2006 7:07 AM

There is a BIG difference in taste between cheap scotch and good scotch. You get what you pay for. If you really want to try to LIKE scotch, try half a dozen different brands on the high and low end. I personally like glenfiddich. I won't drink any other scotch.

Posted by: Lynne at June 14, 2006 7:11 AM

Even though you will probably never sift through all of this advice, here's mine:

Do you drink whiskey? If so, I'd go straight for the scotch, maybe beginning with a Dalmore Classic Single Malt. It's priced reasonably well and has a hint of orange flavor. It is rather robust, but if you can't stand it, you haven't wasted too much money.

If you don't currently drink whiskey, my advice is too start there. I like Knob Creek whiskey. You may want to begin by making a whiskey sour (light on the sour) to help with the taste until you become acquainted with it. Below are some sites with reviews on Knob Creek.



Posted by: Jeff at June 14, 2006 7:13 AM

Stick with single malt, and start with anything Glen, on the rock, with a little water to take the edge off.

Posted by: Eric at June 14, 2006 7:22 AM

I agree w/Wendy. Life is short. Find something else to do instead of making yourself sick drinking fucking scotch.

Posted by: Becky at June 14, 2006 7:41 AM

Easing into the scotch/whiskey/burbon family shouldn't be too hard. Here's how I did it:

Starting from zero - start with some simple mixed drinks, jack and coke or seven-and-sevens.

Once you actually like that, try some jack with a coke on the side. Sip them alternatingly. Eventually, you'll be able to skip the coke altogether and just enjoy the jack. Maybe with rocks.

Then you're ready to branch out. Try some quality daily-drinkers, Crown Royal (special reserve is awesome), Maker's Mark, Dewars, etc. Try with rocks, without rocks, maybe a splash of water or soda, however you like it.

Once you like that stuff, then you're ready to branch out to single malts scotches. I basically went to a "single-malt scotch tasting class" with a bunch of friends and they gave us different kinds of single-malts and pointed us through the differences between them.

Now you're ready to make your own decisions about what you want to drink.

My personal favorite daily-drinker these days is Bulleit Burbon. Holy crap that stuff is good. http://www.bulleitbourbon.com.

People who tell you to start with single-malts don't get it. If you haven't prepared for it, it will all taste like indistinguishable kerosene and you'll lose interest. Once you've worked up to it, you'll be able to appreciate the differences. Besides, that stuff is usally too damn expensive to drink unless you can really appreciate it.

Posted by: scrungeworthy at June 14, 2006 7:48 AM

If you're going to do it, do it right. Don't buy the cheap stuff. The best 'starter' scotch is the best bottle you can afford to buy at the time. Period. Even if you drink one glass and have to throw the rest out, at least you'll know you had the best that Scotland had to offer. If the bottle is plastic, don't drink it. If it costs less than $20 for a small bottle, don't drink it. A good 20 year scotch for around $60 is the way to go.

Posted by: Ron at June 14, 2006 7:49 AM

I'm not going to read through all these right now, so I don't know if this has already been stated. What worked for me was forgoing Scotch for the time being and trying something domestic. I've developed a taste for bourbon. Try Maker's Mark. It's hot (like all distilled alcohol) but there's a delicious vanillaness about it.
Once you get some bourbon background, go back to scotch...

Posted by: Andrew at June 14, 2006 7:54 AM

For your starter, go with a single malt scotch that has been finished in a port or sherry barrel, it mellows things out. If that's not mellow enough for you, add a splash of spring water.

Posted by: Loren at June 14, 2006 8:19 AM

hey, im 15 years old, and i will always remember my first experience with scotch:
i was 8 years old at the time, and im sitting down watching TV when my dad comes down with a glass of scotch. me being the curious little kid i am, asked him what it was, my dad, having the cruel sence of humour that runs in my family, decided to tell me it was apple juice. i believed him until i took a wiff of it. "that doesn't smell like apple juice" i said. but my father being ever persistent told me it was,(at the time i was ignorant of my fathers cruel sense of humour, and believed him) so when he offered me a sip, i accepted. "take as big of a sip as you, chug it if possible" he told me....so i did.(thankfully there wasn't much left). not only did i scream as soon as i was done. i was still ignorant enough to trust him. so as soon as my mouth is empty, when he tells me to take a deep breath in threw my mouth, i do. it felt like some1 lit a fire in my mouth, it was horrible, and it burnt, i hated it.
point being i just thought i would share that story with you kiddo's. hope you got some entertainment out of my pain^_^

Posted by: nick at June 14, 2006 8:32 AM

I'd start with Glenfiddish, it's a single malt and is what I cut my teeth on.

Posted by: Suz at June 14, 2006 8:40 AM

I recommend The PORT WOOD Glenmorangie. Caps to point out there are many different kinds of Glenmorangie but this tastes as good as a Unicorn Ribeye.

Posted by: Chris at June 14, 2006 8:56 AM

Its like tequila. Good Scotch (like good tequila) is very, very good. Bad scotch, like bad tequila, is horrid. Lot of good brands mentioned, but I like Glenmorangie over ice with a splash of water.

Posted by: Ol'Froth at June 14, 2006 8:57 AM

With scotch, those connasuers will actually refuse to use tap water, when watering it down, because it interferes with the taste. Buy some high-falutin' bottled water, like dasani or one of those reverse osmosis type filtered waters, and water it down until enjoyable, and decrease in water as you build up your tastebuds to it.

Natural spring water traditionally best, but...where the hell you gonna get untouched water where you are?

Also, "a glass of booze to kill the bug" is good...if you get a cold at the back of your mouth, take a straight shot and kill it, you might conquer your taste fears.

Posted by: edam at June 14, 2006 9:11 AM

Forget scotch.
Try Southern Comfort on the rocks.
Whatever you drink, be sure to drink equal amounts of coffee. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060612/hl_nm/coffee_dc_1

Posted by: Pam Cleveland at June 14, 2006 9:33 AM

Steve, Don't Drink It!! Scotch is vile. (To say nothing of it being "furrin likker." Try a really wonderful bourbon instead, like Woodford Reserve. Just a thought....

Posted by: mgpaquin in Savannah at June 14, 2006 9:36 AM

Glenmorangie is excellent. I like it with just a few drops of water or maybe one ice cube. It's very smooth.

Posted by: renferi at June 14, 2006 10:23 AM

Macallan 12

Described by Paul Pacult, the renowned international whisky writer, in his book Kindred Spirits as: "simply the best 12 Year Old single malt around", The Macallan has justly reaped such critical acclaim. The secret of The Macallan lies in defiant adherence to traditional methods and ingredients. The continued use of finest Golden Promise barley and the insistence on the finest oak casks are just two of the pre-requisites for perfection.

Now available in the online shop.

Rich Gold.

Vanilla with hints of ginger, dried fruits, sherry sweetness and wood smoke.

Deliciously smooth, with rich dried fruits and sherry, balanced with wood smoke and spice.

Sweet toffee, dried fruits, lingering wood smoke and spice.

Pulled from website.

Posted by: Clint at June 14, 2006 10:42 AM

I thought I was the only one who noticed that Scotch is more noxious than all the other liqueurs, even the obscure ones and even Tequila (which rides in a close second on the sickening list here). I cannot recommend any Scotch at all. Later on I realized there is an occult reason for it: Scotland and St. Andrew are code for being already deeply in debt; getting drunk FROM more debt instead of something outside made to get you OUT of debt will only dig you deeper in the grave. Scotch is exported from poor Scotland to other countries for a reason, even if that reason is not supposed to be mentioned out loud like I've done here. It's meant only for the rich and those who are fully licensed to heal the sick. Instead try mixed drinks which use lemonade as an ingredient, such as shandies or a green demon. There are many.

Posted by: eubellant at June 14, 2006 10:54 AM

Lots of comments, lots of opinions. I like malts, and have ~8 or so at the moment. I generally prefer strong-tasting malts (Islay or west coast) to the milder Speyside malts. Don't bother trying all the recommendations for specific single malts. I tend to drink my scotch pretty well diluted, w/ roughly 4x as much water. You'll notice flavors more that way, and can decide what you like, if you like it at all. When I want an alcohol burn, I have gin or cachacha for that.

Posted by: Eric at June 14, 2006 11:02 AM

Lucifer Sam,
don't worry about liking the taste of Scotch or not. This Alcohol is not worth the effort. Their are better things you can spend your money and time on.

Take Care.

Posted by: Dan Car at June 14, 2006 11:07 AM

yeah like gambling and hookers!!!

Posted by: Tammy at June 14, 2006 11:15 AM

i would also say Chivas Regal, but only because i HEARD it's good. i'm a beer girl myself, oh and Jager. maybe you should just drink jager. nothing is worse than that

Posted by: Reggie at June 14, 2006 11:25 AM

Nothing better than three fingers of Glenlivet, with a little bit of pepper... and some cheese.

Posted by: Ron at June 14, 2006 11:55 AM

Three kinds of comments I don’t think will help this discussion at all:

1) “If you don’t like Scotch, then don’t drink it...”
2) “Man, why drink Scotch when you could be drinking a nice [insert random alcohol here]…”
3) “I hate Scotch, so you should too...”

Look, there is something inherently classy about drinking a fine glass of Scotch -- it might not be the best tasting liquor out there, but that’s not the damn point. The point is to look cool; casually sipping a fine brownish liquid poured out of a classy without grimacing like a fool after each sip.

Rule of thumb; if your post doesn’t include some kind of Scotch recommendation, then really…you’re just not getting it.

Tequila, Canadian Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, Beer, Wine, Roofing Tar, Urine, and a snifter of Karl Malone’s sweat may all taste better than Scotch Whiskey to people. That’s great, but if there is no recommendation, then, really, what is the point?

Of course, that means my post has no recommendation. Sweet irony, you are a temperamental whore...

Posted by: Ty at June 14, 2006 12:26 PM

I'd say start with a single Highland Malt. When I turned 21, my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I replied that I wanted a bollte of 21 year old Scotch. Well, the got me a bottle of 21-year-old Dalmore Single Highland Malt. Really good stuff!

Fast forward to today (almost 10 years later), and I'll still go for the Dalmore 21 year old Highland. However, my absolute FAVORITE is Johnny Walker Blue. Pricey as hell, but quite enjoyable.

Posted by: topflight70 at June 14, 2006 12:26 PM

I'd say start with Dewar's. It's the kind I drink, it's pretty good, and not overly expensive.

Drinking scotch is essentially a matter of will; I simply decided that I was going to start, so I did. Now I think it's muy delicioso.

Posted by: MW at June 14, 2006 12:38 PM

I say watch Ron White and drink whatever brand he drinks...Cause he says its cheap, and it must be good....as much as he drinks of it! LoL!! Good Luck!!

Oh, and Cheers!

Posted by: Serpentia at June 14, 2006 12:39 PM

Everyone that has suggested to start with Jack and Coke is right. It's not the "best" or "classiest", but it's the easiest way to become accustomed to the taste so you can eventually appreciate the good stuff.

Posted by: supergrover at June 14, 2006 12:53 PM

haha, i don't think it's an acquired taste at all. i've loved it since i first got a little tiny bit of it from my dad, when i was like 8.

7 years later, i still love it.

Posted by: elizabeth at June 14, 2006 12:57 PM

I developed my taste for scotch on the
Wild Grouse, distille and bottled in scotland. A nice middle of the road blended scotch (as opposed to single malt). Then go from there to develop your palate ;) I have a bottle f cutty shark at the moment, it is ok...

Posted by: Matthew at June 14, 2006 1:21 PM

Meh, classiness comes from within, and when it does it's called "sophistication" unless the speaker is making a derogatory joke out of a sense of anger over the shamelessness of the object in question. If you pull these lame consumerist stunts then you'll end up with other people who pull these stunts once your unthanked grace period comes to a crashing, apocolyptic close. Not that anyone's going to escape. Trying to acquire a taste for Scotch! Hey, why don't you MAKE FRIENDS with some Scotch drinkers instead of asking total strangers for advice they're happy to give because basically nobody cares about them, that or maybe do something to improve the world instead of trying to get everyone to admire your sorry immature ass. Steve, you're so totally pwned by advertising and freaks from the 50s I've had it with your silly leetle blog. Sure, you'll get some good advice out of this and lots of attention (as already evidenced) for the black hole that is what's left of your immortal soul, but it ain't gonna help in the end. Soylent Green is People!!!!! The only reason to "acquire" a taste for Scotch is to vomit the poison and excrement that you've been fed, because the only other way is to process it and you're too slow.


Posted by: Sick of the Sneeze at June 14, 2006 1:37 PM

Ooooooooh, what ELSE should I BUY in order to simulate what's actually POSITIVE?????? I don't know, because my parents and I have never known anything but a bunch of thieves dictating to us what we should do and love! Why not take a crap into your diapers and stop trying to pretend this is amusing instead of nauseating? Then go ahead and drink any brand of scotch you like in an attempt to forget it all like the stinky fleshy robot requiring constant programming and maintenance and forget-juice instead of forgiveness you actually are. Because facing it is out of the question for sure. Drink up everyone! You've only spent hours on end in public school learning that the Holocaust and black slavery in the south were the worst things that EVER happened in the history of the planet................just to avoid becoming aware that all of YOU are the NEW slave class, addicted to licit and illicit drugs and the people who sell them because there aren't any REAL human beings LEFT anymore, and haven't been for quite a few decades. Leftovers, you're unwanted.

Posted by: whatever at June 14, 2006 1:43 PM

Remember Steve, you don't have to do anything you don't want to, unless girls are around they you have to or they'll think you're a wuss. Take that first sip at home where only your wife can see you, she's already sold on you.

Posted by: will at June 14, 2006 1:46 PM

I'm still trying to figure out why you need to acquire a taste for scotch...if you don't like it, you obviously don't need it...me, I'm a water fan, I don't really drink alcoholvery often, so maybe I'm a bad judge of this. now black cherry Kool Aid..that's the good stuff

Posted by: Kathy at June 14, 2006 1:51 PM

someone lost their sense of humor.

Posted by: SB at June 14, 2006 1:55 PM

You could go for the gold and buy a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue. I hate scotch with a passion but that is good stuff. Of course for 200 bucks it better be.

Posted by: Beth at June 14, 2006 2:20 PM

I think the most important thing you can do is get a reasonable scotch (any of the Glen's, or anything recommended above) and then start by putting in an ice cube or two. The cold, the slightly less solvent-like character with the added water really helps your tongue to detect the nice things about the liquor. Same goes for bourbon and other whiskeys, and you'll probably end up picking a favorite type, rather than a favorite brand, at least at first. For me, bourbon is where it's at!

Posted by: scot at June 14, 2006 2:29 PM

Honestly? Start with a decent bourbon. Maker's Mark is readily available. Then move on to the smokier, dirtier tasting Eurowhiskies.

Posted by: Jonathan at June 14, 2006 3:02 PM

HEY!!!!! LOOK AT **ME**!!!!! I'm drinking SCOTCH now.

Pretty nifty, eh? I'm so great, oh, and gosh so are you. We rock, and we look really wonderful while we do so. Too bad everyone who ever really loved us is puking over the shame of it.

Oh, it's so classy. *I'm* so classy. I totally get off on making adult babies read my blog when they could and should be paying attention to reality. I'm SO classy! Aren't I great?

No? Well, fuck you, because I'm a SCOTCH drinker!!!!

Posted by: YummyBuzzard at June 14, 2006 3:07 PM

For relaxing time, make it Suntory time

Posted by: ben at June 14, 2006 3:14 PM

Drink Hennigan's. It's Cosmo Kramer's scotch of choice! Seriously though, i say you should just not drink scoth. Bourbon is much better. Maker's Mark especially.

Posted by: Danicus at June 14, 2006 3:22 PM

what's scotch? i don't drink wow im way far down here. you know what's pretty tasty frozen coke. i drink that.

Posted by: idunno at June 14, 2006 3:36 PM

Try a nice glass of Organic Compost.
Then move up to Peat Based - but go steady, it's a resource fast running out.
Now try the Scotch.
You might like it if you liked the other two.

Indigo Blue Fish

Posted by: indigobluefish at June 14, 2006 3:55 PM

my sister's friend drinks scotch

I think she's nuts.

Posted by: Matt at June 14, 2006 4:42 PM

I'm going to buck the trend and say - start with a blended rather than a single malt. Each single malt has its own individual character and f you get one you don't happen to like you could end up tarring all the others with the same brush. The blendeds tent to be more similar and less chalenging for the ininitiated.

Buy a good blended whiskey. Chivas Regal is pretty good. Then step up to the single malts. I'm currently working my way through the single malt shelf at the local bottleshop. Macallan 12yo at the moment. Yum.

You could also try an Irish whisky. they ar a little lighter, less smokey and smoother than their scotch cousins. Try a Jamiesons.


Posted by: Dave at June 14, 2006 5:41 PM

When I read this, I had a vivid memory of being in a college bar in Williamburg, VA. The guy behind the counter was singing, "I love scotch! Scotch scotch scotch! Scotchy scotch scotch!" Perhaps this mantra will help you on your journey.

Posted by: Becky at June 14, 2006 5:42 PM

Transparent Scotch Tape is my favorite. It is extremely clear and sticks to most home/office products. However, for a beginner, I would recommend starting with a more traditional Matte Finish Scotch Tape. Matte Finish Scotch is softer and is more flexible for any re-application needs.

Posted by: Joy at June 14, 2006 6:09 PM

Oh yeah.. and there's an old irish proverb you may wish to consider (typed in a very bad irish accent) -

Dere's two types of whiskty. Dere's laughin whiskey, and drere's foightin whiskey. De ting is dat they both come out of de same bottle.


Posted by: Dave at June 14, 2006 6:16 PM

i read ALL of the comments (whew!) and i only saw one other person suggest aberlour ("Aromas of complex ripe fruit (golden raisins, marmalade, cherries, apples), toffee, treacle, and hint of mint"). of all the single malts i have tried, this is my favorite and, i think, a good starter. it is reasonably priced (around $40), fairly easy to find (i've gotten it at albertsons) and mild and sweet (but in a good way).

Posted by: ren at June 14, 2006 6:17 PM

GlenDronach 13 year old aged in sherry casks, on the rocks with a splash of cold water, sip on it till gone, repeat as needed. Those who advocate Chivas are inbred cretins. Johnny Blue isn't bad, but for the money there are many better scotches. You can get a bunch of single serving single malts to see which you prefer. All in all, it'd be better to acquire a taste for something cheaper and better for you, like water.


Posted by: El Duderino at June 14, 2006 6:21 PM

Mix it with Breast milk and put it in your "Steve don't eat it!" part of this whole wonderful thing you got going on here!

PS...nice use of the word of the day, got any other words we can pretend we use everyday, but we dont and are just faking it to look like we know something??? Just wondering.

loving spell check, named Sid

Posted by: Sid at June 14, 2006 7:41 PM

OK, nevermind, it might curdle.....yech......


Posted by: sid at June 14, 2006 7:47 PM

Glenmorangie 12 year port wine cask is a good starting Scotch. The port wine cask helps new drinkers by giving it a mellower taste.

Posted by: Contagion at June 14, 2006 7:56 PM

Dude, they all taste like paint thinner to me...

Posted by: BrianS at June 14, 2006 7:57 PM

Scotch? Why not try MD 20/20? They both taste like piss, and you'll only be out $2.79.

Posted by: Norman at June 14, 2006 8:04 PM

Congrats on making it down this far. You must be desperate for the stuff.

The thing about scotch is that it's less harsh than bourbon but harsher than Irish whiskey. Bourbon is distilled once, usually from a mash made (primarily though not exclusively) from corn. Scotch is distilled twice, but the grain used in it is roasted over a peat fire--hence the smoky flavor associated with most scotches. Irish whiskey is distilled three times and they don't fuck around with corn or burning grass.

I'll agree with everyone who says to go for the single malts rather than the blends, but if you've got an insensitive palate, it doesn't matter that much, really. Decent blends I'd recommend include Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark--neither is fantastic, but there's certainly worse, and you won't feel so bad when you either water it slightly or drop an ice cube in it.

If you'd like a good starter single malt, I'd recommend Auchentoshan. You don't need the 18-year-aged-in-a-cedar-trunk stuff, just the standard $20 bottle--this is about as cheap a decent single malt as I've come across. The reason I recommend it is because it's a lowland malt--most scotches come from the highlands--and is slightly different: it has the smoky flavor of scotch, but it's distilled three times, so it's smooth like an Irish whiskey.

Beyond that: Oban is nice, and Highland Park is decent. You probably want to avoid Islay malts, because they're very very strong, almost medicinal--Laphroiag is the classic example. Don't try one of these till after you've done some others first.

And it's OK to mix with a LITTLE water or a single (small) ice cube, but for chrissakes don't throw in lemonade or Coke or any shit like that. You'll come off like a frat boy with his hat on backward. Jesus, just look at yourself. Shame.

Posted by: Eric S. at June 14, 2006 8:07 PM

Forget that overpriced swill at the market - make your own damn Scotch, mate!

Here's what ya do:

Step One: (We can have lots of fun!) --

Get yourself a nice 3 quart bucket. Drop your pants. Piss in bucket.

Step Two: (There's so much we can do!) --

Drive to local gas station. Buy 1/2 gallon of gasoline.

Step Three (It's just you and me!) --

Mix gas and piss in bucket. Stir well.

Step Four: (I can give you more!) --

Place gas/piss concoction in basement for 12 years.

Step Five: (Don't you know the time has arrived!) --

Remove gas/piss concoction from basement. Strain out sediment. Serve in nice plastic scotch glass.


Step by step!
Ooh Baby!
Gonna get to you, Steve!

Posted by: TasteMaster at June 14, 2006 8:10 PM

When my great grandfather immigrated (legally, mind you....) from Scotland, do you know what he brought with? A case of Drambuie. Yum, yum. We still have the wooden crate.....of course its full of tools and such now...

Posted by: yomama at June 14, 2006 8:19 PM

Now there's an idea for a Steve Don't eat It... You've done the prison wine.. why not try moonshine.

What, you don't want to go blind? What are you some kind of wuss?


Posted by: Dave at June 14, 2006 8:22 PM

Alright, let me get this straight, good scotch must be aged in old wood casques and the better ones have a hint of "peat moss" in their aroma? Interesting. Here's a beverage whose flavor is enhanced by both the taste of wood and the smell of dirt and yet it cost four times as much to buy it. That does it...I'm becoming a scotch maker. Now I need only think of a good brand name....right now, I'm leaning towards something with "Glen" in it.

Posted by: starjacked at June 14, 2006 9:04 PM

If your going to start off fresh I would really start off with something that is a bit smoother than most of the available stuff out there. Im a rather avid scotch drinker so ill list off some of the good areas to start.

1. Stay away from the blends, they mess up the flavor of a beginner. Chevis is one of the most popular blends out there. If you want something thinned or watered down then add it yourself, dont spend 50 bucks on something thats already done for you.

2. Stay pure. Youll never know what it is if its covered by other flavors.

3. It dont have to be old. Age dont matter to much as long as its over 8 years. Scotch flavor changes every year after that so one brand you like of a certain year you may hate on an older or younger batch. But at the same time always remember with age comes smoothness.

A good brand I recommend to start with is McCallans 12 year or higher. Its a bit pricey but well worth it. I suggest getting 3 different ages at the same time so you can see the differences in them all. Little sips at a time.

If you want to its NOT a taboo to add a little water or ice to it just dont overdue it. For the beginner going pure and straight right out of the gate can be a bit to strong and can ruin you for it forever.

Hope that helps, if you need anymore help just let me know and ill try to explain as much as i can.

Posted by: Nerofiend at June 14, 2006 9:21 PM

make a jager bomb!

pour about a third of a red bull into a tall glass. fill a shot glass with jagermeister. then, drop the "bomb" into your glass and drink it all real fast! lots of fun and an interesting taste.

Posted by: brian at June 14, 2006 10:37 PM

I am a big fan of the Islay single malts. The Lagavulin is one of the best whiskys I've ever had. I enjoyed a few glasses with my friend Tim last Sat. night. If you enjoy the peaty, salty, sterile gauze taste, look around for some barrel strength Laphroig. It's marketed at over 110 proof because it isn't diluted at the distillery like most others. Auchentoshan is good stuff. I have 2 in my cabinet right now. One of them is the fantastic 21 yr. old sold in the wooden box. The other is only 12 yr. old. There is not a world of difference in the taste only in the price. I agree with earlier postings that most of the blends are alike and you might as well drink from a 1.75 liter bottle from Costco if you don't want to regularly drain $50.00 bottles of quality single malt. Best value IMHO is Laphroig. Costco carries it at $30 for a 750ml.

Posted by: Paul D. at June 14, 2006 10:54 PM

I buy big old 1.75 liters Of Clan McGregor. get a 20 oz clear tummbler fill it with ice then half scotch and half water nurse for the next hour then repeat. Or try my signature drink THE KATMANDO which is a double shot with Bailey's and Scotch, A wicked smooth Bite.

Posted by: Kat H at June 14, 2006 11:59 PM

Aberlour single malt. it's the best cheap scotch out there, with a nice woody taste with a hint of cinnimen. i drink it exclusivly, and i'm rich.

Posted by: josh at June 15, 2006 1:03 AM

I would try the following: There are six classic malts. One for each region of Scotland, all of them pretty well chosen and each one with a characteristicly different taste. Buy a selection of them and get used to a type of whiskey. From there you can work your way to a single brand you like best.

Dalwhinny is maybe the best for beginners.
Also a good choice is Talisker, although a lot stronger.

Posted by: Hurzman at June 15, 2006 1:41 AM

Damn. Scotch tastes worse than the redneck rocket fuel that i drink! My advice? Think of England.

Posted by: faw at June 15, 2006 4:06 AM

I was going to make a Scotch Tape joke... but apparently that's already been done. More than once.

Posted by: Mike B at June 15, 2006 5:23 AM

Just shot it and forget it tastes like the rancid urine of a hobo. In my experience, the more you spend, the more bearable it becomes...

Posted by: fuzzy at June 15, 2006 5:42 AM

Personally i think you should try a something like cheep mohawk rum first. Then move on to the good stuff like peppermint schnapps. Ok really try a whiskey / bourbon blend, like jim beam then move on to scotch. Once you are full fledged scotch drunk, maybe you can "acquire" the nickname scootch. Just an idea.

Posted by: rob at June 15, 2006 6:26 AM

Ack, I noticed someone suggesting Johnnie Walker Blue Label... don't belive it! It's over-priced swill. Having experimented long and often, my favorite reasonably priced scotch is -*[ Glenmorangie Sherrywood 12 year ]*-. Buy it, try it, love it.

Posted by: Josh at June 15, 2006 6:35 AM

If you really want a good scotch, try a glenfiddich (or glenlivet) 12 or 16 yr. but be prepared to spend some money on the 16 yr. If you really find it repulsive, try it with water on the rocks instead of neat. Dude, seriously. How can you be repulsed by scotch but not natto or breast milk?

Posted by: tiffany at June 15, 2006 6:36 AM

I'm pretty sure my reviews of breast milk and natto weren't glowing.

Posted by: Steve at June 15, 2006 6:53 AM

I'd try Johnny walker blue label whisky. It's very smooth, it could ease you into the whole bit.

Posted by: kt at June 15, 2006 7:18 AM

I hate whisky too and I used to feel exactly the same way about Olives. Then I got drunk with a friend who was eating her way through a jar of olives. I decided to start eating them and by the time we were very very drunk I liked olives.
Still hate Whisky though!
Drink Pimms instead - it makes you like olives?!!?

Posted by: Laura at June 15, 2006 7:37 AM

Skip blue label and go straight for black. JW Black label is an experience. Then ease yourself into blue.

Or here's a thought: don't. Scotch is expensive; why would you want to develop an expensive taste? It's like Godiva chocolates, which to me taste like chocolate soap, but which my girlfriend insists is an acquired taste. Thanks, hon, for taking the time to acquire a taste that costs me $2.00 for 1/256 oz.

You can be plenty sophisticated with wine and beer. All you have to do is pick a kind of wine at random and refuse to ever drink it, even under threat of death. People will think you're sophisticated, with a touch of eccentric opinionation. It's perfect.

And call somebody a Phillistine every once in a while.

Posted by: Pip at June 15, 2006 7:37 AM

Go the the Johnny Walker website and look for one of their "Discover the Journey" scotch tasting events to come to a city near you.

Some nice lady in a kilt will educate you on the in's and out's of scotch, including the differences between a single malt scotch and a blended scotch

You will then get to taste 3-5 different well-known single malt scotch brands from different regions of Scotland and will (hopefully) be able to taste the differences.

Your final part of the night is to taste Johnny Walker Black (as opposed to Red-cheap, Blue-mega expensive, etc...) And if you flirt with the kilt girl before the program, you will likely get invited to a private tasting of JW Gold that is ice cold... that is smooth and fantastic!!!

That is how I got indoctrinated into Scotch and I have brought a few others along with me down this path... FWIW

Posted by: Bryan at June 15, 2006 7:38 AM

I'd go with a Single Malt Scotch. (Being Scottish and all I'd also recommend wearing a kilt when you dive in to the Scotch pond but I just canna' expect a wee lad ta' grow 3 pound stones ayer' night.) Try somthing common line Glennlivit it's inexpensive and not overpowering. Also, try going to a scotch tasting at a local distributor.

Good Luck Laddie!

Posted by: Scapegoat at June 15, 2006 7:40 AM

Seriously, though... go expensive first and work your way cheaper. You'll never choke down enough cheap scotch to get used to, let alone acquire, the taste.

Sample a few pricier ones, if you can find affordably small amounts (I know some higher-end liquor stores that will give take-home samples, but they're few and far between, and it's probably illegal in some places), using celery or something to clear your palate between samples. Find the most tolerable one and work your way (slowly, please) through a bottle. Once you've grown accustomed to the taste, you can start sampling with a more educated palate, tasting the differences and seeing which kind you like.

You'll be slopping down badly-disguised rubbing alcohol out of a paper bagged bottle in no time!

BTW... back then, when I said blue instead of black, I was high. It's been a while, and I got the labels confused. kt was right the first time: blue is the good stuff.

If you don't mind laying down $300USD a bottle.

Posted by: Pip at June 15, 2006 7:51 AM

Forbes has a nice article on Brown Lifes-Blood:

Posted by: Zach at June 15, 2006 8:35 AM

Something I forgot to mention in my first post, that has been touched on by others: Scotch, like most other flavor-driven alchohols, didn't appeal to me until I tried the good stuff. Bourbon, port, sherry and brandy, all the same story. Cheap hooch tastes awful.

Posted by: Eric at June 15, 2006 9:01 AM

If you want to like scotch, you have to go single malt.

My reccomendation would be a McCallen 12yr scotch.

A true scotch-drinker will tell you it should not have any ice in it, but that's something to work up to.

If you actually want to like it, the ice-helps water it down and helps you "acquire" the taste.

In no time, you'll be singing: "Scotch, scotch, scotch. I pour it in my crotch. I love scotch."

Posted by: Austin at June 15, 2006 9:24 AM

It's not a crime not to like scotch. Although I've heard that the single malt is the way to go. Steve, maybe your taste buds are just telling you that it is poison to your system--stick with beer or wine, you'll be happier, and so will your heart and brain.

Having said that, someone pass the Patron...I loves me some tequila!

Posted by: LL Locke at June 15, 2006 9:49 AM

Scotch got me through grad school.

Posted by: Buffy at June 15, 2006 9:59 AM

DeWars, J&B Must mix with Club Soda!!!!

Posted by: AdriansDream at June 15, 2006 10:02 AM

I really don't know why you'd bother. In my experience working in bars, most scotch drinkers are either genuinely pretentious or trying to look sophisticated. Largely unsuccessfully. I liked the comment earlier about starting with a whiskey, although I'd recommend Jameson over Bushmills. It's got a smoother, deeper flavour, and you won't be as distracted by the alcohol shudder. My advice to you is to stop there. Find a good Irish whiskey that you like and let that be enough. Yum.

Posted by: Jacque at June 15, 2006 10:10 AM

I almost forgot, the easiest way to get into whiskey is with a few Manhattans. I tried to like scotch on it's own, but it wasn't until I had started drinking Manhattans that I began to tolerate the single malts. My advice on Manhattans though, would be to skip the bitters. That's an acquired taste that I can do without.

But once you've grown to love the Manhattan, it's just a short shift to be swilling the finest whiskey Scotland has to offer.

Posted by: Austin at June 15, 2006 10:14 AM

Start with a good blend. I strongly recommend Famous Grouse - easy to find in liquor stores but not at bars. Then go for the single malts. My favorite is The Macallan 18 year old, and so far I've found a good rule of thumb is the worse the year was for the U.S. the better it is for Scotch. (The 1974 was nectar of the gods - thanks Tricky Dick!). Also anything by Bruichladdich rocks.

Posted by: Spock at June 15, 2006 11:08 AM

I recommend starting out drinking gasoline. Once you can handle that you should be able to drink scotch. (Or is it the other way around?)

Posted by: Jeff at June 15, 2006 11:40 AM

You should really make this into a Steve, Don't Eat It!

Posted by: Ryan at June 15, 2006 12:19 PM

I was never a fan of scotch either.

I've always been far more partial to the yummy warm vanilla-ness of a good bourbon. It's so much more accessible at first sip than a sharp, forbidding single malt.

But with that said, my husband introdouced me to a really wonderful combination..Johnny Walker Blue with a side of honey roasted peanuts.

To make your drink, use a nice old-fashioned or rocks glass and pour about 2 fingers width of the scotch into the glass then add either 1-2 cubes of ice or about 1 finger width of cold water and enjoy.

This is best if you alternate small sips of the scotch with nibbles of the honey-roasted nuts. The ice or water will tame the burn of the alcohol and the sweet peanuts will accentuate the natural notes of vanilla, sugar and fragrant wood esthers present in the blend.

In time, you may come to recognize and enjoy these flavor notes in the scotch without being prompted by a food pairing.

Once you're at that point I suggest moving on to the more challenging single malts.

Happy Sipping!

Posted by: Jeanette at June 15, 2006 12:26 PM

i don't drink scotch but i drink chocolate milk. i don't think that counts though.scotch is unhealthy, .....i think
one time i had i dog named fred and he ate dog food

Posted by: i dunno at June 15, 2006 12:29 PM

Chocolate milk is unhealthy.. lots of saturated fat in milk. that stuff is a death sentance, Scotch however is the magic elixar of life and only makes things better. The more you drink the better everything gets until you can no loger remeber, at which point its all good anyway even if it was bad!


Posted by: the_other_steve at June 15, 2006 1:20 PM

Johnnie Walker? Yes.

Red? No. Black? No. Gold? No. Blue? No. "But there aren't any others," you say? Wrong.

Green Label. It's where it's at.

Posted by: jiggy at June 15, 2006 1:41 PM

Famous Grouse

Posted by: Matt at June 15, 2006 2:45 PM

See, high society wants you to think that drinking strong alchohols like that are a slight sophistication run, but the truth is, they know you are going to want to be like them eventually, and it just so happens that the consumption of alcohol is one of the easiest steps to living the high society life.

Most likely, they just want you to get out.
By drinking till you become incoherent for the rest of your life.

I'm all for drinking though.

But on my departure for this comment,
have fun being an alcoholic.

Posted by: Veda at June 15, 2006 2:51 PM

I've noticed a lot of votes for Macallan. You can't go wrong there. Lagavulin is not a good starter scotch as it's powerful flavors can be pretty overwhelming.
Try, also, Highland Park or Oban. Glenfarclas is also fantastically drinkable. Even the bottom shelf McClennan's Single Malts are not bad.
Do not, however, waste your money on JW black label or blue or red. You'd be better off getting a big bottle of Famous Grouse which makes a great, cheap blended Scotch.
If I had it all to do over again, I'd go in this order:
1. Macallan
2. Highland Park
3. Glenfarclas
4. Lagavulin
5. Talisker

Scotch is all about place. Islay malts (Lagavulin, Talisker) taste of the ocean: seaweed, iodine, salt, peet. Highland and Speyside Malts tend to be sweeter and smoother, with finishes more like cookies and malt.

Best of luck and have fun!

Posted by: Fygar at June 15, 2006 4:02 PM

Like any liquor you try for the first time, you just need to get a few quick ones down. (The only possible exception to this rule is lemon gin, which tastes great from the first sip til the moment you lose conciousness.)

I once went to a scotch and rye tasting event at a local bar, and even though some of them didn't taste that great in the first half hour by the end of the night they were all my favourites. A word of caution though, that night included a warm hug with a 270-pound queer (not that there's anything wrong with that), incoherent shouting at strangers on the street and -- just before I lost the power of sight -- winning the door prize. You guessed it! A bottle of rye.

I'm not sure the experience made me a genteel scotch afficionado, but I do know that I am banned from that bar.

Posted by: spike at June 15, 2006 4:57 PM

Glen Fiddich is pretty good...

You may want to try finding a cool bartender. When I was curious about differences in whiskies the local bartender poured me a few small glasses to try out.

Posted by: Shaun at June 15, 2006 4:59 PM

People usually either like bourbon or scotch, but not both. I think it's biological.

Posted by: tmonnnn at June 15, 2006 5:07 PM

I would say Johnny walker Black....it's not to pricey but it's pretty smooth. A little bit of lime takes a lot of the bite out of the scotch...or try it with some seltzer water...ease into like a warm bath.

Posted by: Nick at June 15, 2006 6:09 PM

the_other_steve, chocolate mik is not unhealthy it gives you strong bones, but nice comments.lol wicked hillarious.

Posted by: i dunno at June 15, 2006 6:37 PM

Sweet mother of mercy! Fygor suggests that you should work up to Lagavulin and Talikser which he states both taste of, "seaweed, iodine, salt, peet." By my estimation, you could get the same flavors by licking an angry squid and save yourself the hundred bucks. Hold on, I just got the brand name for my own scotch: GlenSquid.

Posted by: starjacked at June 15, 2006 6:46 PM


Since you brought it up, I had to try it. Wow - scotch is expensive. I bought a 1/2 bottle of Glenlivet 12 yr old and decided to try it. A little ice, a little scotch - not bad. Of course, I also drink rum straight too.....and have been drinking lots of martini's lately (bombay sapphire gin). Hmmm, there goes my liver...

Posted by: Ken at June 15, 2006 6:51 PM

hey, this doesn't count as a "Steve, Don't Eat It!" does it?

Posted by: ashley at June 15, 2006 7:35 PM

Mmmmmm. . . . Angry Squid!

Oh, crap, Steve: I forgot one more: Aberlour 12 0r 15. Another great entry point to scotchy-scotchertonville.

Posted by: Fygar at June 15, 2006 7:37 PM

I would say, based on my limited knowledge of this website and my even more limited knowledge of scotch, that you would do well to start with the absolute cheapest, unpretentious, so-bad-it-inadvertently-pokes-fun-at-itself, at-home-in-a-paper-bag bottle of scotch you can find.

Work up from there.

Posted by: FuzzJapan at June 15, 2006 8:01 PM

I like butterscotch, does that count? ~~Grins~~

Posted by: Ellynn at June 15, 2006 8:04 PM

Maker's Mark is SWILL compared to Knob Creek.

Posted by: nan at June 15, 2006 8:40 PM

Right now I am drinking Glenfiddich Solera Reserve. A nice 15 year old single malt. I have nothing personal against bourbon, but it is just too sweet for my taste. Irish whiskey is a little better, but still a bit sweet. Glenlivet or Glenfiddich is definitely the way to go. They are bold enough, but not overpowering. Many scotches have a smokey, campfire taste to them, but these too are very mild. Good starter scotches and not too pricy.

Posted by: Bob at June 15, 2006 9:13 PM

I'd have to second the Talisker recommendation.

It was a great introduction to whiskey for me. I started out diluting it a little with water (not ice... I liked the flavor but needed to cut the burn a bit). After awhile you get used the ethanol effect ^^

Posted by: Paul at June 15, 2006 9:14 PM

Congratulations, Steve.

Regardless of what happens with your scotch experiement, you have indeed proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the phrase:

"One question is which would be the ideal starter scotch. Suggestions are appreciated."

is an Internet mating call for pretentious, blow-hard posers.

Posted by: FuzzJapan at June 15, 2006 9:15 PM

Dear Steve,

I am a college student at CSU Chico, the infamous party school, so I am well aware of the art of "acquiring" tastes. We have all been through this with beer whether we remember it or not. From my experience no one likes beer to start with with the exception of dogs. Inspired by my recent surroundings I have decided on this method: BINGE DRINKING! Yes that fabulous college past time that turns lads into men that can enjoy beers at all family barbiques. Crude? You bet your sweet ass! It's fun with groups AND it will force that acquired taste on you in no time! Well there you have it. Get off your sissy ass and "CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!" until you vomit. You will be a sophisticated bon vivant in now time. :)

Yours truely,
Super Dave

Posted by: Super Dave at June 15, 2006 9:53 PM

Forget scotch, drink Irish Whiskey!

Posted by: Johan at June 15, 2006 11:14 PM

I think, of ALL your past postings, Steve, THIS ONE has served you very well for bringing out about TWO THIRDS of the entire population of "Internet Phony Assed, WANNA-B-SNOBS" and "pretentious asshole impersonaters" than ever before!!
As I "SO" scientificaly stated once earlier.............. "Scotch is made, simply by straining gopher urine through the cotton crotch panel of a Roller Derby Queen's panty hose, AFTER she's worn them during a loosing match, against the Bay City Rollers". (Note: IF her team has WON, the match, then you'll have made a good bourbon, instead!).
But, I digress, sorry..................
It's been MORE than sheer fun, not unlike a weasal stuffed in your shorts, to read these posts from the "Got ME, through college!" set of those, that have come so far in life, they are now, truely, REAL "Cubicle Warriors" and sadly, proud of the fact!! Too, BAD, really that you didn't make this column about WINE!! My, God, THEN you'd have had yourself some REALLY LONG LISTS of even MORE phony Jetta drivers with their keys kept on a BMW keyring, so they can toss it up onto the bar, to impress, as they casually lossen up, their K-Mart Immitation Rayon neckties!

Posted by: El' weirdo at June 16, 2006 1:00 AM

Steve, don't drink it!

Posted by: chica at June 16, 2006 2:28 AM

I'm not a big scotch drinker myself, I prefer rum or bourbon. Try Talisker. It's not as peaty or smokey as the others listed and has a sweetness to it similar to bourbon.

Posted by: james at June 16, 2006 3:04 AM

When you are done with this silliness, can I have your leftover scotch?

Posted by: Neighborcat at June 16, 2006 4:07 AM

Try "Stewart's Cream Of The Barley", if you can get your hand on it. It's available in Ireland and UK, but I'm not sure where else.....

Posted by: RawShark at June 16, 2006 5:01 AM

Try 3M. Their scotch tape really works good and is not so sticky that you can't get it off your fingers.

Posted by: mezmrin at June 16, 2006 6:55 AM

Hey Steve,

I like dewars. I have tried more expensive ones and really havent been able to tell much of a difference. Be careful though, as scotch is high in calories.

Posted by: Adam at June 16, 2006 7:19 AM

When I teach people to drink scotch, I start them with a cheap blend (Clan MacGregor is easy to drink and less than $10.00) mixed with GingerAle. Over time (typically 1 scotch drinking season i.e. labor day to memorial day) I'll slowly change the mix towards more scotch/less gingerale. By the end of the season, they will enjoy the taste of the scotch, and be prepared to move on to tastier, more complex, single-malt scotches, and actually enjoy the subtleties.

However, if you want to go all in, my personal favorite is Talisker. It's about $45 per bottle.

Posted by: KOTWF at June 16, 2006 7:22 AM

Don't listen to anyone who tells you to drink Dewars or almost any other blend.

I to despised scotch for a number of years but wanted to like it (what's that about).

I'd recommend the glenmorangie 18 - It isn't cheap but an excellent entry scotch. Drink a bottle or two of it. After this, start trying other things like Bowmore, Lagavulin (a bit gamey but my favorite), and Talisker.

Good drinkin!

Posted by: D Roderick at June 16, 2006 7:35 AM

After watching 'Swingers' for the first time I decided I was going to learn how to appreciate Scotch. The only thing I knew about it was from a line in the movie when he ordered a glass, 'Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, any Glen will do.' Armed with this knowledge I went to a bar and ordered a Glen-something. I hated it. I've tried many times since, but haven't been able to acquire a taste. But luckily I like gin, so if I want to look like a pretentious hipster, I can just order a martini.

Posted by: Platypus at June 16, 2006 8:06 AM

Whoa Dudes!
What's with all the hate?

While I'd agree, that the subject of Scotch Whiskey tends to bring a lot of poseurs out of the woodwork, snobbery is not merely confined to this particular drink.

Almost every kind of alcohol invites it's share of opinionated blowhards. I'm sure that this phenomenon isn't restricted only to expensive booze. Most likely there's some back-alley wino with strong opinions about Boone's Farm Wine and Thunderbird and all the other winos think he's being a pretentious prick.

Ultimately you're just gotta respect everyone's right to believe that their taste reigns supreme, be it about coffe, scotch, airplane glue or whatever.

Opinions are like assholes.
Everybody's got one.

Posted by: Jeanette at June 16, 2006 8:46 AM

I personally like J&B Rare, or Chivas Regal 12 year old. I don't believe Scotch is intermixable as each one has a distinctive and very different taste.

Posted by: Richard P. Grossman at June 16, 2006 9:04 AM

Re: Johnnie Walker Blue Label.. or any other high priced alcohol for that matter

If you've decided that you really want to try it, and want to save yourself a bit of money.. go on an international trip! it's Sooooo much cheaper at duty free! (I think that we saw it for $137 at the US/Canada duty free, whereas it's $214 in Ontario!)
Ok, sure, it means that you have to foot the bill for the international trip, but you get to have a nice relaxing vacation in addition to a bargain on your newfound vice!

Posted by: SalamanderGirl at June 16, 2006 10:49 AM

El' weirdo is my idol.

Posted by: Gus at June 16, 2006 11:43 AM

If you're starting out, try looking through a scotch guide such as "Micheal Jackson's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch" (no, not by the singer Micheal Jackson!).


His ratings are normally pretty safe and you'll find his descriptions helpful to notice the differences between scotches.

As expensive as it sounds, try a few different (perhaps 3) scotches at a time. Make sure to cleanse your pallet between scotches.

Finally, I would suggest Oban, Macallan and Glenlivet as different scotches to try. Glenfidditch is okay, but Oban and Macallan really shine through when you try them all in comparison.

Posted by: Davos at June 16, 2006 11:54 AM

Am I the only one who would *really* love to read "Michael Jackson's Complete Guide To Single Malt Scotch" as written by the singer?


Posted by: Jeanette at June 16, 2006 12:09 PM

mmmm..... Scotch. I started drinking Scotch when the doctor made my dad switch over from bourbon for health reasons. Right now I'm working on distilling my own brand of Scotch here in Arkansas. I plan to call it Glen Campbell. If I don't blow myself up I'll send you a bottle.
I've personally converted over 7 people to Scotch and I think you should definately start with McCallum 18yr if you don't receive your bottle of Glen Campbell in time. You're not going to find a better scotch- only, at best, "as good but different". Its the perfect starter scotch because its one of the smoothest and has a nice taste. Just go to a bar and order one and see. I prefer on the rocks but I'm from the South (its hot down here) and you know what? Screw you pretentious bastards who make fun of me for drinking Scotch "on the rocks". Its 97 degrees here right now, I don't want a warm shot of anything. Same goes for tea. I don't make fun you "warmies" so let it go.
If you're buying bottles, I'd start with Chivas. It's a blend but its really nice and readily available and much cheaper.

By the way, the beauty of good scotch? No hangover.

Posted by: K at June 16, 2006 12:10 PM

I like Dewers. Then again I am a complete booze bag.

Posted by: Matt at June 16, 2006 12:29 PM

Ok.. here's the deal steve. You don't get to try any Scotch.. until we see another Steve don't eat it. YOU GOT THAT!!

Lets see you eat some Scrapple or a nice Head Cheese.


Posted by: the_other_steve at June 16, 2006 12:49 PM

The more expensive the alcohol, the better the taste and easier the hang over.

So it's been said..

Posted by: Jessica at June 16, 2006 2:09 PM

Ironically enough, at tastings that he hosts, Michael Jackson (the scotch/beer dude) makes the EXACT SAME joke about being mistaken for the the "single-gloved pop singer with a prediliction for little boys".

Somehow, it never stops being a little funny.

Posted by: Fygar at June 16, 2006 2:14 PM

One more thing that I don't think I've seen posted here: do NOT NOT NOT drink scotch, single-malt or otherwise, like a shot. Not because it looks unsophisticated or anything, but because you'll almost certainly fire it straight out your nose, burning both your throat and your sinuses like you can't even believe. Get a good whiff of it first before you drink--again not to look pretentious, but to avoid the shock factor when by tasting and smelling simultaneously. Sniff, then sip, just a little. You should then be able to sip carefully for the rest of your glass.

If you did want to turn this into a "Steve, Don't Drink It!" you should try Laphroaig after introducing yourself to something gentler. On the plus side, it might finally burn the taste of natto out of your mouth.

Posted by: Eric S. at June 16, 2006 2:43 PM

go for any kind of Johnn Walker scotch EXCEPT red!!!! i drink black label a lot...the best being blue label is 25 years old but is very expensive. i'd say go for the black or gold label. once again...STAY AWAY from the red label!!!

Posted by: Darnelle at June 16, 2006 3:53 PM

Its like beer, really is generally tastes similar so don't waste your time on expensive scotch until you can stomach the cheap stuff!

Posted by: Jo at June 16, 2006 5:46 PM

Love whip has it right.

If you want to try something, go for beer. but not just any beer, go to the store, and look for the craft/micro brews. pick one that sounds interesting (I like stouts and bocks myself)

Whatever you pick, it's bound to be cheaper than scotch, and taste a hell of a lot better.

Posted by: Shooter at June 16, 2006 7:33 PM

Look, at this point you're at least 293 comments in...

I'm in favor of Scotch and developing at taste for it.

Here's the most poetic (and/or persuasive) thing I have to say in its favor:

Laphraoig 10 year...is probably my favorite single malt Scotch in the world. It’s from Islay. Islay is an island off the coast of Scotland. When you smell this whiskey, you smell smoke and ocean. Think about the best beach bonfire party you ever attended. The smell of the fire and the brine in the air. And you get drunk, just like the beach party. That’s what this drink will remind you of. It tastes of that smoke too, along with fire, salt and little bit of honey. On a night like tonight here in New England - rainy, cold and raw - my Laphroaig is the best of summer beach bonfires in a glass.

Just put a shot in the glass and sprinkle with a wee dribble of cold water. Try a damn Islay whiskey. If you can get into Islay, the rest of Scotch appreciation will be a cake walk.

Posted by: Amanda at June 16, 2006 7:38 PM

this is an ideal time to bust out a "STEVE, DON'T EAT IT"!

Posted by: josh at June 16, 2006 9:04 PM

Can't say I've dabbled much in the Scotch-ish drinking. Did have a couple sips of Ardmore before. Decided I was plum against the stuff. You may fare better luck with it, though I do recommend researching the quote unquote "flavor" of it before risking it:

"Very promising peaty, honeyed nose with traces of heather and coal tar soap."

Mmm. Coal Tar Soap. I have no idea if this is actually how Scotch is produced, but if it is, I wouldn't like to be tasting tiny tidbits of soap..let alone the fact that it's of the "coal" and "tar" variety. But no matter. Good luck in your endeavor.

Posted by: QueenofSwampCastle at June 16, 2006 9:29 PM

Scotch is an aquired taste, but go a little at a time. Teacher's Highland Cream is good, but Dewards will be too much at a start. I dont refrigerate my scotch or whisky or mix it with water.

Posted by: Blake at June 16, 2006 9:32 PM

It's 8:50am in the Netherlands and I just crawled out of bed.

When my sleepy eyes scanned the first line of your post, they read "I like beaver"

Posted by: Breigh at June 16, 2006 11:51 PM

So, like, when are you going to do another 'Steve Don't Eat It'?

Posted by: petstarr at June 17, 2006 12:19 AM

When I wrote my first comment in this thread, one of the few that actually suggests a method to acquire a taste rather than what kind you should try (although I will admit that it can be helpful... ), I was tempted to ask abotu the "steve, dont eat it" thing... and now I am glad I didn't cuz after reading though I can see that you are harassed at almost every opportunity to perform another act of self-inflicted-araqi-internment-camp type of humiliation. So on behalf of myself and many others that dont realise, I am sorry. We just love you and your antics too much.

PS: Tell your wife that we are sorry for being bad influences.

Posted by: Super Dave at June 17, 2006 2:56 AM

i am comment 302

Posted by: Alex at June 17, 2006 4:50 AM

Scotch is for heauxmeauxs. Develop a taste for tequila!

Posted by: Scary Uncle at June 17, 2006 7:59 AM

You and your wife should both try this experiment together, then when you have a fight you will both run for the bottle of scotch in the crystal decanter. Unlike the soap operas on tv becareful to keep it away from your kids because they may rapidly age faster than the scotch.

Posted by: Miles at June 17, 2006 8:58 AM

if it must be scotch, start with johnny walker (black label) -- smooth, smokey, not too terribly harsh. if it's whiskey you are looking to acquire a taste for, not Scotch whiskey in particular, i'd recommend starting the Maker's Mark. it's a bourbon, which means it's whiskey from kentucky, kinda like champane is sparkling wine from champagne region of france; or like Scotch is whiskey from scotland, for that matter. that's pretty much all i drink these days. water is so 2004.

Posted by: ted at June 17, 2006 11:30 AM

wow, sooo many people opposed to scotch, or drinking in general.

Calm down people, you're making yourselves look like self-righteous prats.

Posted by: Cory Jackson at June 17, 2006 7:55 PM

I'm a scotch drinker, and if you want something unique to help ease you into scotch, try Drambuie, which is a sweeter herbal scotch, or Innis & Gunn beer, it's aged in oak scotch barrels.

Posted by: Lady Cooper at June 18, 2006 12:08 AM

Laphroaig. With a splash of water. Roll it around in your mouth. Soooo goooood.

Posted by: Jimbo at June 18, 2006 1:36 AM

I've recently started drinking Grant's. Its quite a nice blend of scotch. Other recomendations are Glenfiddich and Bells

Posted by: Chad at June 18, 2006 2:16 AM

I'm underage!

Posted by: Margaret at June 18, 2006 6:05 AM

I tried this experiment, but with beer. For some reason I can't "acquire" the taste of beer -- any beer. It all smells like urine. I'd rather drink my own urine. At least it's free. I tried it with wine, too. Same results. Although, wine doesn't taste like urine, it tastes more like rotten grapes that have been stepped on (I wonder...).

My palette just sucks. It's probably all those years of eating processed chicken byproducts from McDonald's.

Posted by: Dan at June 18, 2006 8:02 AM

Now that I've had a chance to go back and read most of these comments, I have to say that I'd really like to go out and buy some Scotch. Unfortunately, I'd drink most of it and I have to work tomorrow.

As much as I enjoy Islay Scotch now, I did cut my whiskey teeth with Southern Comfort (of all things). Then I tried bourbon and decided I didn't like it. Then I moved on to Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. Then Macallen and finally, Laphraoig.

My best advice is to avoid blended Scotch (all of 'em. Just write 'em all off) and to avoid any bottle of single malt that costs less than $30. Seriously. It's not a prententiousness thing; it's about saving your liver from rotgut. Good Scotch whiskey costs money.

And please don't listen to the people who say to mix it with ginger ale. That's what Canadian whiskey is for.

Posted by: Amanda at June 18, 2006 10:36 AM

Like any beginner, you can probably start with a blended and then refine to a single malt. Scotch is always hot and strong for the first ounce and then smooths as your palate warms. Beer is an excellent complimentary taste to scotch and helps take away the fire.
Never take advice from anyone who drinks martinis because after drinking a martini it should probably be chased with a urinal cake. Martinis only taste good to alcoholics or pretentious wannabes from the shallow end of the gene pool.
If you can't handle scotch stay in the kid's park and drink whiskey, that way no one gets hurt.

Posted by: B at June 18, 2006 12:36 PM

Buy a nice bottle of Grey Goose. It's cheaper than scotch, and it'll get you drunk.

If you want to look like a snob, buy a monacle and a pocketwatch. That should be all you need.

Posted by: The Kaptan at June 18, 2006 12:57 PM

Steve, Don't Drink It!

I don't know the first thing about scotch, and based on a lot of these comments I don't really want to.

Good luck, sir!

Posted by: Wesley at June 18, 2006 3:25 PM

there is a word for people who like beer wine and scotch i think it is alchoholics

Posted by: steve at June 18, 2006 5:57 PM

Try Dewers - its cheap, you can get it almost anywhere, and with enough ice its not awful. If you can hack that, THEN move to the more expensive stuff - Glenlivet or Joh nny Walker - I've grown to LOVE it! And you just feel so fuckin cool ordering a Scotch.

Posted by: roxy at June 18, 2006 7:43 PM

My pop says that Chivas Regal is smoother than most brands of scotch, and thus easier to like. He also says "What's a good starter scotch?" is a stupid question.

Personally, I think you'd be better off learning how to grind wheat into flour. At least then you wouldn't be destroying your own brain cells in the pursuit of acquiring a taste for glorified cat piss. If you must drink, stick to wine, which is at least recommended by doctors.

Seriously, if it doesn't taste better than that crazy-assed prison wine you made, why do you want to like it?

Posted by: Sleepless Mama at June 18, 2006 8:13 PM

Just drink Ipecac. Your body will thank you.

Posted by: Mere at June 18, 2006 10:08 PM

I drink scotch and have loved it in many forms. As another poster said, it is just another type of whiskey... so find a whiskey you like already and start sipping it on the rocks. THEN make the step UP to scotch...
forget the blends, they are all crap and shouldn't be classified as "scotch" at all. They just aren't the same.
My wife started drinking scotch as a kid mixed with milk. I don't get it either.

Posted by: columnatedruins at June 19, 2006 7:29 AM

Famouse Grouse. It is the middle-of-the-road scotch in Scotland, and not a bad bang for the buck.

In addition, to get started you might try drinking scotch and soda. I underwent the same "forced acquisition" of a taste for scotch. I started with scotch and soda, and worked down from there.

It does work!

Posted by: Jojo at June 19, 2006 7:29 AM

i'd never had scotch before this weekend, but i was at an event that had a glenlivet rep there for a scotch tasting. he gave me the whole rundown on how to drink it etc. he said the 'real' way to drink it is to add a few drops of water because as it ages in the barrels it pulls in oils from the wood in the barrel. the water breaks up the oils and releases the flavors a bit. only a few drops though. he said an ice cube is ok, but when it gets cold it freezes some of the flavor in. next you have to smell it a few times before drinking it which basically prepares your palate for what's about to come. he said it's important to smell it with your mouth open though, so the alcohol can release as you inhale. otherwise you might cough or sneeze or it may burn your nose. lastly, the part of your tongue that needs to taste the scotch is on the outer edges, so when you take a sip, sort of press your tongue flat to the roof of your mouth and let the scotch roll out to the sides of your tongue and then down your throat. with a decent scotch you'll have an aftertaste (or 'finish') for a couple minutes, which is nice. anyway, i tried the glenlivet 12, 15, 18, and 21 year old scotches and the 18 was my favorite. they get a little thicker as they age, but the alcohol content is the same. follow this process and you may love it. i like good bourbon, and after the other night i found that i love scotch too. enjoy!

Posted by: jch at June 19, 2006 8:15 AM

Why not stick with beer ehh? Or just drink it all...

Posted by: Dakota at June 19, 2006 11:32 AM

Jeepers Steve,

More vitriol here than the "Mini's are for Chicks" debacle. For what it's worth, I worked in a bar for several years during college and after watching what our patrons drank and how they comported themselves after drinking, I came to the conclusion that Scotch is a drink best left to lecherous old guys and the golddiggers who live off of them. Having said that, Caol Ila is phenomenol stuff. I like it in a rocks glass poured over a single ice cube. The flavor changes throughout the drink as more and more of the wter melts into the Scotch. Oh and to the poster who used the phrase "as your palate warms" I can only assume "warms" is a euphanism for "numbs"

Then again, I get drunk on cheap beer for a buck a pint at my local at least twice a month so maybe I should stuff it ;)

Cheers and Good Drinking!!

Posted by: Michael at June 19, 2006 11:46 AM

Why does everyone hate the blends so much?

All scotch was a blend up until the mid 1960s when GlenFiddich decided to see if there was a market for single malt.

Posted by: jiggy at June 19, 2006 12:34 PM

1. Dewers is for elderly alcoholics
2. I'd rather cut off my thumbs than be a pompous scotch snob. I also don't own an ascot.
3. If you are still looking for cars, find a low-mileage off lease 03-04 vw gti vr6.

Posted by: snafu at June 19, 2006 12:38 PM

I am mostly a beer person. But scotch is essentially distilled beer, which makes it inherently cool. Go single malt.

Posted by: Doug at June 19, 2006 12:45 PM

327 (328) comments - think about creating a message board on the site yet?

Posted by: no name at June 19, 2006 1:05 PM

I am constantly amused by the very first comment on this board - "Go to Scottland".

I can only assume that the poster's name is Scott, and he's inviting you to his house for a tasting party. Right on, Scott! Are the rest of us invited?

Am I the only one who gets annoyed with such obvious typos???

Posted by: Blessed are the Cheese Makers? at June 19, 2006 1:23 PM

Your a cowboy eatin all that wierd shit, just do anal shots with the scotch and ya don't have to taste it, though it doesn't go over well dropping trou at the club and hikin your knees behind your head at the bar, lol.

Posted by: billy at June 19, 2006 1:40 PM

Screw scotch!!! Go to Blachhaus!!!

Posted by: Jo-D at June 19, 2006 1:56 PM

Start with anything that comes in a 1.75 L plastic jug. Check the label to ensure that it was distilled in someplace like Baltimore, MD, Clifton, NJ, or Flint, MI.

Mmmm... That's some good drinkin.

Posted by: Peter at June 19, 2006 2:21 PM

Hey Blessed,

No, yur knot alone. Friggin' typpoes anoy me to! I mean their is no cents in misspilling the name of an entire contenent (especialy one as big as Scotlund!) Com on ppl, chick yur dam spilling! Piece out!

Posted by: starjacked at June 19, 2006 6:59 PM

I would say Johnny Walker Black Label..........(god let that be a scotch). Regardless, whatever you attempt to drink..........freeze the damn thing...........make it a slushy of goodness..........of course the alcohol will alow it not to be a slushy type substance........and if it does...........it's not a good scotch

Posted by: SiaZ at June 19, 2006 10:34 PM

Hey if you want something really good you can just brew it up in your bathtub. it's cheaper and much better to accuire a taste of. If you can drink moonshine and not puke, you can drink any brand name shelf booze

Posted by: Jesus at June 20, 2006 3:44 AM

shove some invisible tape in your mouth next time you think you'd like to put scotch in it.

Posted by: DK at June 20, 2006 8:06 AM