Whisky – What to Look For at a Store, Bar and Restaurant

by | May 20, 2021 | Eve's Wine 101

I’ve covered the basics of whisky before for readers: the differences between the different types offered and what to stock in your liquor cabinet. Many of you asked me for my own favorites. So this time I will share some single malt and blended scotch choices you may find interesting.
Most of my favorites come from years of whisky tasting events. The very best, that I’ve written about before include events from the Universal Whisky Experience, LA Scotch Club and the Southern California Whiskey Club. Here are some of the many memorable whiskies I’ve tasted, with some of their information and/or my own:
Compass Box: Tasted their whisky at events, and most recently via zoom with their whisky maker Jillian Boyd, these are mostly blends and all highly drinkable. Hedonism, Peat Monster, Great King’s Street Artist’s Blend and Myths and Legends 2 are my current favorites in their line-up.
That Boutique-Y Whisky Company: An “independent bottler which offers stunning whiskies from world-renowned brands and distilleries. Each bottle has a fun and informative graphic-novel-style label containing humorous references, in-jokes and shocking puns.” And from me, “Completely blown away with whiskeys from Japan, So. Africa and England” via a tasting and lesson I had led by whisky expert Monique Huston.
Ardbeg An Oa: At the annual LA Scotch Club Peatin’ Meetin’, organized by Andrew Smith, guests are treated to all the peated whisky they could ever want. (We also get a great meal made over heated peat bricks!) I wasn’t a peat fan before these events. However, An Oa became a favorite due to the “…time spent in our newly established bespoke oak Gathering Vat where whiskies from several cask types – including; sweet Pedro Ximenez; spicy virgin charred oak; and intense ex-bourbon casks, amongst others – familiarize themselves with each other. The result is a dram with smoky power, mellowed by a delectable, smooth sweetness.”
The Balvenie and Aberlour: These are my husband Eddie’s everyday go-to scotch whiskies. He buys 12 YO (Years Old, both are from the highland, benefit with less perceptible heat and have a slight sweetness due to time maturing in sherry casks.
Dalwhinnie 15 YO: We visited Scotland a few years back and this whisky was one of a few we had there that we could also find here. Just like buying a wine after visiting a great winery, buying this whisky always takes us back to Scotland.
The Dalmore 12 YO and Port Wood: Introduced to these whiskies at the Universal Whisky Experience, along with one-on-one time with master distiller and blender Richard Paterson, was a remarkable experience. Again, like wine, the scotch tasting experience is only heightened by learning from the people that craft them.
Suntory, Japan: This giant name in the Japanese whisky category owns several distilleries. I suggest you hunt down any bottles that are made with “Mizunara” cask as that is a wood only found in Japan and has a unique flavor profile, different from the former Bourbon and Sherry casks that distilleries in Scotland use.
Kavalan Solist, Vinho Barrique, Blue Label, Taiwan: Never had a scotch whisky from Taiwan before this particular Solist. Eddie had just retired from LAFD and I was looking for a really good whisky to mark the occasion. Everyone needs a whisky in their stash for a really special night. This one had tasting notes that included “bourbon infused milk chocolate.” They were numbered and the one I got him had won the best single malt whisky on earth according to the World Whiskies Awards.
So that is the end of my short list. I have many more whiskies in my liquor cabinet that range in aroma, flavor, age, price and of course, the story behind it. I hope this article prompts you to try something out of your current comfort zone. A last word: try your single malt in a proper Glencairn nosing glass, with a drop or two of water to open it up, don’t swirl it, don’t over ice it and don’t ever let me catch you shooting it!
Links to the events/clubs:
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. 


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