Single Malt Scotch

Discussion in 'Other Beverages' started by WunderLlama, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. Highbrow

    Highbrow Devotee (434) Jan 7, 2011 California
    Trader

    that's sort of where i am too, although i have seen it repeatedly stated as well as heard it from folks associated with Diageo (i.e. "the [former] classic malts brand manager" etc.) - that it is "lightly peated".

    that said he could very well be right, i guess. but it's hilarious being screamed at about not watching videos. how about find & read the documentation under the video before yelling at people about "facts". there's clearly a contradiction that suggests a better source of information is necessary before we declare anything *factual*.
     
  2. TheInsomniac

    TheInsomniac Aspirant (267) Jan 11, 2015 New Mexico
    Society

    I would point out that I've literally been in the distillery floor, watching the whiskey process, and been told they use unpeated malt. And then I was told I was wrong about something that I literally just learned at the distillery... based on what people have read on the internet second-hand. I obviously don't regard these as equivalent sources. So I found a video that confirms what I knew to be true.

    As I've already mentioned, Diageo's marketing team is not where I would go to understand the nuances of how whiskey is made at each distillery. They are marketers. They are not on the distillery floors, immersed in the individual history of each distillery. They also have a huge portfolio of products. I wouldn't expect too many people to have encyclopedic knowledge of every distillery in Scotland (there are obviously some people who do, but it's arguably too big for anyone to know and remember everything - although I would argue that knowing which distillers do and don't use peat smoke is pretty basic). But I definitely don't expect a marketing major whose job it is to push product to really care about the distinctions any further than required to meet sales quotas.
     
  3. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,859) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Given the location of Dalwhinne in the Highlands right near the edge of the Cairngorms National Park and given the location of the peat blanket bogs scattered through out the Highlands it is quite possible to think that the water runs through/over peat in the national park before it gets to the distillery to be used in making the Distillers Beer. (Since they are the highest distiller in the Highlands they have first use of the water for their distilling, and so I'd think there's been either no or minimal water treatment before the water gets to them. :slight_smile:)

    With peat in the water and smoke from the Charred barrels it is not surprising that some folks would think the malt had been smoked with peat.
     
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  4. TheInsomniac

    TheInsomniac Aspirant (267) Jan 11, 2015 New Mexico
    Society

    Yes, that's exactly right. And it's what their bottle says: "From it, all the pure spring water used in distilling Dalwhinnie™ flows over rich local peat through Allt an t'Sluic, the distillery burn [spring]"

    Which is the whole reason I advocated for Dalwhinnie. It's amazing to see what they can achieve without any smoke at all, which, much like hops in beer, wood chips in wine, etc., can cover for sins of the distiller. I think it lends more appreciation to the water, barrels, malt, etc., to drink unpeated whisky. It also allows me to understand what smoke uniquely brings to the party.

    It's the same reason I love gruit. Other bittering agents don't have the pedigree and history of hops, but were once just as common in beer. I think using them forces more attention on the other components. It makes me appreciate hops more, but also opens up realms of flavor that don't exist if one only drinks hoppy hopped beers.

    But I'm also the rare bird that eats/drinks just about everything. I eat things I don't even like just to calibrate my taste palate, to expand my range of knowledge. If I'm in the yard smoking some ribs, I'll drink a beer just to enjoy the beer. But if I'm "tasting" then I'm analyzing it like a scientist, and trying to understand how that Venn diagram overlap of factors created the thing in the bottle in front of me. There's literally an infinite variety out there, and I always advocate for more variety.

    So, back to my original point, even if you love that distinctly iodinic pleasure of Laphroaig or other heavily smoked whiskeys, I'd still recommend taking the time to appreciate Dalwhinnie. Or, less my cup of tea, Bruichladdich, who like to brag about their unpeated single malt. There are other unpeated single malts out there, but they don't advertise it, the way that Bruichladdich uniquely does (and Bruichladdich does peated malts as well, which can be cool for taste comparison). That's mostly because peat is synonymous with scotch in the minds of many people, in the same way that some people don't know that you can make a beer without hops.
     
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  5. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,859) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Personally I've never met a single malt I didn't enjoy, whether distilled in Scotland, Ireland, Japan or the US.
     
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  6. Minnesota_beer_guy

    Minnesota_beer_guy Aspirant (294) Feb 15, 2014 Minnesota

    Reading the posts over the last day or so has made me want to stab my eyeballs. Seriously, peat or no peat who gives a shit.

    Hoping to change the subject, I thought I’d share that I bought my first bottle of Lagavulin 16 this week. It’s peated. It’s delicious. I add an ice cube or some water and wow! I get a lot of BBQ flavors and a little bandaid in the nose as well. That sounds weird to someone who hasn’t had it, but it’s surprisingly addictive. Cheers!
     
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  7. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,336) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    This is me as well. Stylistically, there are some I like much than others, but even the mass produced Glenlivet is a pleasant treat from time to time.

    What I find interesting and enjoyable, is the extensive range of flavors you can find in single malt. There's no other spirit quite like it, imho, which is one of the reasons I so enjoy and appreciate it.
     
  8. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    Happy to hear you enjoyed the Lagavulin 16. People either live it or hate it. The smoke in Dalwhinnie 15 is essential invisible when compared with something like Lagavulin. Have you tried Laphroaig or anything from Bowmore? If you could handle Lagavulin 16, you'll have no
    problem with those two, and may very well enjoy their own unique nuances. Bowmore being much less peated, and more smoky than iodine/band-aid/medicinal.

    Yeah, I gave up on the Dalwhinnie thing. You can't convince someone they're wrong when they firmly believe they're right (for the record, it is a very lightly peated malt).

    You may fancy having a look at the Lagavulin Distillers Edition (Pedro Ximenez matured) or their 8, 9, and (if you're very lucky and have some cash) 12 year. Lagavulin is cool. Have you tried Caol Ila?
     
  9. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,859) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Plus, an advantage it has over most beers is that it doesn’t change in the bottle until after opening, which means if you find the right sale you can cellar a few bottles of favorites to open and enjoy years after that batch has disappeared from the stores or after price increases have made them pretty much unaffordable.
     
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  10. Minnesota_beer_guy

    Minnesota_beer_guy Aspirant (294) Feb 15, 2014 Minnesota

    I’ve tried Laphroaig, but I like the Lagavulin better. Never had Bowmore or Caol Ila. I got into scotch after trying Glendronach 12 a couple years ago so I stayed with the sherry stuff until just recently. I’ve got a bottles of Glenfarclas 105 and Glendronach 12 open at home along with Compass Box The Spaniard which is great as well.

    The peated scotches aged in sherry casks sound good to me, so Lagavulin DE, Talisker DE, Bowmore 15 and Laphroaig PX which is only available in duty free shops are all on my list.

    Cheers
     
  11. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,157) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    I don't think it an exaggeration to say the Scots (who I count among my ancestry) have perfected the Art of making Whisky.
     
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  12. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    Caol Ila has zero sherry influence, but Bowmore is well known for its use of sherry casks. The 15yr is claimed to be heavily sherried, but the 12 has some sweet fruity/nutty sherried notes. I've actually never tried Glenfarclas, because it's unavailable here. Man, I'm dying to. I hear the 15 is exceptional. I've also heard there are some ridiculously amazing Glendronachs. I think them and Glenfarclas are generally the two that most enthusiasts would reference when talking about overall "sherry bombs". Good for you for seeking out Compass Box. I've yet to hear a negative review. If you're into sherried drams, maybe seek out a bottle of Aberlour A'bunadh. About as sherried as sherry can sherry.
     
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  13. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Meyvn (1,488) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Trader

    I'm surprised that Auchentoshan hasn't come up in this thread at all yet, especially with that whole "unpeated" malt debate. As far as I know, Auchentoshan really is made with entirely unpeated malt and also has very little smokey flavors, being more on the sweet, fruity and woody side. Not necessarily one of my favorites, but still a unique and interesting Scotch. Triple distilled as well.
     
  14. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    Auchentoshan Three Wood is a perfect example of the woody, "smoky" notes that barrel char lends, versus peat smoke. Pipe tobacco, cedar, and charred oak, it's subtle, but it's definitely a byproduct of wood, rather than peat. Triple distillation, in Scotch, is generally only seen in Lowland distilleries. I haven't quite nailed down the distinction it makes, but I feel like it results in a lighter, brighter, fresher character, often with some clean grassy notes in the foreground.
    I'm guessing they didn't come up, because unlike Dalwhinnie, it's actually (to my knowledge) legitimately unpeated. You don't hear them get a lot of recognition -Auchentoshan. I've met a few people who keep it as a constant, but most people I've spoken to just have a "meh" reaction to it. Now I'll have to revisit them.

    I think Bruichladdich: The Classic Laddie would be a better example of a malt people argue over. It's unpeated, it says on the bottle it's unpeated, but most who taste it swear that it's absolutely a peated malt. I'm talking to the point of whisky conspiracy theories, haha. If there's any whisky that'll start a fight, it's that one. Or Whistlepig. Or Templeton. Or like half of MGP whiskeys.

    Fucking Dalwhinnie. How can you even argue over something that sounds like goddamn Whinnie the Pooh? Is nothing sacred?
     
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  15. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    Estne nihil sanctum?

    Somewhere, an early millennial will catch that reference. And I'll be very proud of them.
     
  16. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (261) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    You're aware there are now single malts that get their "peated" characteristics from casks that previously held peaty scotch, like Ardbeg? Wolfburn Northland and at least one Glenlivet expression are two examples. No idea how long this has been going on, or to what extent.

    Would say call something in the 1-3 range "unpeated"? I wouldn't. Unless otherwise stated, many more have tiny traces and don't advertise it (Speyside single malts once were all, to varying degrees). Not done intentionally, but because they had little other choice.
     
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  17. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,859) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    To give you a sense of what having a chance to attend the Tattoo on the Castle Grounds might be like, this a recent year's

    March Off at the end of the Tattoo.
     
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  18. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,783) Jun 6, 2010 Texas
    Society Trader

    For what it's worth, smoke/peat sometimes shows up in Bunnahabhain 12 for me, and that whisky supposedly is not peated. At least everybody says its not peated. Most of the time it tastes like a sherry monster to me, but every now and then I'd swear there's a bit of smoke and way less sherry-cask character in the flavor. Bunnahabhain does make peated whisky, and I wonder if the peat smoke floating around the distillery somehow makes its way into their non-peated whiskys? Or the barrels? I'm dumb enough to believe anything maybe.

    The lack of information about most whisky is frustrating. I'd pay a little more per bottle to know what barrel(s) my single malt scotch whiskys were aged in along with knowing if the distillery used peat or not to dry the barley malt. I'd also love to know mashbills for all my bourbons, and percentage of grain whiskey in Bushmill and Jameson's (and what kind of grains).

    As for triple distillation, your description of "lighter, brighter, fresher ... with clean grassy notes" is exactly what I get from Irish whiskey. It sounds like I might like Auchentoshan, which I've steered clear of so far because it does have a lot of "meh" surrounding it.
     
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  19. TheInsomniac

    TheInsomniac Aspirant (267) Jan 11, 2015 New Mexico
    Society

    For the record, Dalwhinnie is not peated.
     
  20. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    I'm not going to argue with you about whisky, man, I'm sorry. I have direct lines of communication to several Highland distilleries, and I tend to think I know a little bit about whisky. If you're opinion is that Dalwhinnie has no smoke or peat characteristics, then thats fine, but until you can prove that to the world, you shouldn't spread misinformation via personal opinions that are dressed up to look like fact. Other people will see it, and then they too will become misinformed.

    I happen to know for a fact that Dalwhinnie dries the malt for their 15 year old with peat, but there doesn't seem to be any reasoning with you here. Whisky is by far the last thing that should be argued over. So sit back, pour yourself a dram, and just let it be, man. Peat or no peat, it shouldn't matter. As long as we aren't using opinions as teaching tools, then everything is all good. Let's leave arguments out of here. They do no good.
     
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  21. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    Bunnahabhain is still a peated malt, 100%. It's just very lightly peated. I was told around 3 to 5ppm or something like that. No, it's definitely peated, you're not crazy. It's a really earthy kind of peat. Noy smoky at all, like a Bowmore or Caol Ila, but a really earthy, stony, soggy kind of peat. @thesherrybomber describes it as "like drinking a cool, dark cave", and i totally get that. Flinty. Once you become familiar with how peat can translate, it's not,difficult to find it,in Bunnahabhain 12. You've got a good palate.

    The,ambiguity in whisky can certainly be frustrating, and I definitely relate to that. Finding our whether a whisky is peated or not isn't all that difficult, if you know how to research it, but mashbill are highly protected recipes in some cases, and may remain a mystery forever. Some are heavily protected. In any case, be it peat or no peat, percentage of rye vs corn vs wheat, sherry or bourbon cask, etc... it can be a little frustrating not to have all that information in arm's reach. I agree, I would pay a (small) premium to have all that information on the bottle. Some distilleries do just that, and I have a lot of respect for that approach. But it's whisky, and with whisky...there will always be complications. Quick and easy doesn't seem to be part of the whisky ideology, haha.

    You may like Auchentoshen. Hell, you may even like McClelland's Lowland Single Malt. Irish Whiskey is definitely in a league of its own, but I've encountered a few single malts that have made me double take for a moment. Try an Auchentoshen if the opportunity ever presents itself, but I wouldn't initiate a manhunt just to obtain a bottle of Three Wood. There are lots of Irish Whiskeys to explore!
     
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  22. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (261) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    I've heard Bunnahabhain describes as "the essence of Islay". It would be interesting to see what others would be like if you removed the thick curtain of smoke. Supposedly, there's a trait (traits?) that Islay whiskies share in common that sets them apart from other regions (including non-Islay islands). I've only had a couple, so can't comment there.

    I've also heard single malts that don't specifically advertise themselves as "peated" have trace amounts, like Glenlivet. I'm guessing its somewhere in the 1-2 range? Unless specifically stated, like with Glengoyne, I suppose many more do! In the past, Speyside expressions were more like Higlhland, with a healthy dose of peat (out of necessity). The Nadurra expressions and distilleries like Benromach give a taste of what that would have been like.

    How would you rank Auchentoshan Three Wood vs Bushmills 16? Both have been on my list for some time, and around the same price range. Similar profiles?
     
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  23. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,336) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Well now, while I don't have a dog in this fight (and tend to agree with your opinion about the pointlessness of arguing endlesslessly over this topic), I'm not sure I can agree with this last statement of yours.

    My favorite scotch whisky pub has this wee sign posted in their upstairs bar:

    "Whisky. Because the world's problems aren't settled over a glass of chardonnay."
     
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  24. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    I like your reasoning. While I still stand by my original statement that you shouldn't argue over whisky (itself), arguing over whisky is better than arguing with an empty glass. Cheers!
     
  25. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    I can definitely see Islay malts all sharing something in common. Naturally, one would be inclined to say that the trait they all have in common is the fact that they're all peated, but I too would be interested to experience different unpeated expressions side-by-side. Perhaps it has something to do with that coastal influence.

    I also would not be the last bit surprised if most Speyside and unpeated Highlands still have trace amounts of peat. I know for a fact that a couple do. I talked to a rep from Glenmorangie about this, and she indeed confirmed that there are detectable levels of peat in most of their malts. This is because a portion of their malt is dried with peat, like many other highland distilleries, as you pointed out. People tend to think in black and white in terms of peated or unpeated, and mant don't realize that a lot of distilleries just add a small portion of peat-dried barley to the mash of predominantly unpeated barley. There are a few Speysides I can think of that, if one has a decent palate, can pick out that little hint of smoke. Have you tried any of Glenlivet's Nadurra expressions? They're quite pricey, but sound like they could be amazing.

    I really wish I could answer that question, but unfortunately, I have not had the Bushmills 16 Single Malt. That's a bucket list bottle of mine. I should have pulled the trigger when it was $100. It has gone up to $130. I would imagine it's much more delicate than the Three Wood, with more of a sherry and port influence, and a slightly brighter overall flavour profile, but that's all speculation. I've had a few port-matured Irish single malts, and they've all been lighter and brighter than the Three Wood. It's almost as if the wine sugars and wood oils actually cling to Scotch whisky better than they do to Irish whiskey. Wine cask Scotch can be heavy and viscous, where all the wine cask Irish malts I've had are always drier, brighter, and "cleaner", if you will.

    I have a bottle of Bushmill's 16 that I've been staring at for 9 months, where I work. It's a little bit taunting. Knowing your wheelhouse a little bit, I think you may enjoy the Three Wood. If I ever get my hands on that Bushmill's, I'll let you know.
     
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  26. Minnesota_beer_guy

    Minnesota_beer_guy Aspirant (294) Feb 15, 2014 Minnesota

    Springbank 10 on sale at my local store for $42, anyone have any insight? I’ve never had it, but that’s a good price and I’m thinking of pulling the trigger on a bottle I’ve wanted to try.
     
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  27. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (807) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    Since we're all quibbling here.

    "Burn" is used throughout Scotland - it's basically interchangeable with stream. Not a Gaelic word (though maybe it has its roots there) - it's used by all Scots when speaking English (whether they're Gaelic speakers or not) to refer to anything smaller than a river. "Allt" in your quote is the actual Gaelic for burn/stream.

    Add me to the list of people on the pro-peat side of the Dalwhinnie argument.

    Also will make the same point that I believe we should always say whisky w/o the "e" when talking about the Scottish stuff.

    Sincerely - a born and bred Scot
     
  28. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (261) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    GRAB IT
     
  29. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    Dude. That's a steal and a half! Definitely grab that bottle. Hell, grab two! Mark my words, Springbank will double in price in less than 10 years.
     
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  30. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (807) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    100%. Springbank was my first contribution to the thread. Such a (relatively) under the radar whisky. I work in finance in NYC and have to hear/watch people drone on about Macallan on the rocks. It’ll be an eye roll and a Springbank for me. I just love everything that that distillery is about. Used to vacation close by when I was a kid.
     
  31. SierraNevallagash

    SierraNevallagash Disciple (373) Sep 23, 2018 Maine
    Trader

    Macallan has had a damn good marketing team, and they really like their own product. I haven't had a Macallan I thought was unenjoyable, but man, the status hype they've developed is unreal. If you're buying Scotch as a gift for a fellow whisky nerd, then it's maybe a Springbank, a Longmorn, an Ardbeg expression, a nice Highland Park, or really anything off the coast will do. If you're buying Scotch for a colleague or someone who just likes to drink whisky, often with the addition of 200ml of frozen water (to make it "so smooth"), Macallan it is. "Macallan? Wow! That's a fancy whisky! That's even nicer than Chivas!"

    Actually, if I'm buying whisky, I'm probably just keeping it.

    I've always been kind of curious (in that useless trivia sort of way) - can you see Northern Ireland from Campbeltown?
     
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  32. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (807) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    Yeah you definitely can.

    And honestly the amount of times I’ve heard the virtues of Macallan espoused by colleagues - I make a point of not touching the stuff. All marketing as you say.
     
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  33. TheInsomniac

    TheInsomniac Aspirant (267) Jan 11, 2015 New Mexico
    Society

    They do not. I literally found a video for you from their distillery floor stating the opposite. Ignore it if you want. But the facts are the facts.
     
  34. TheInsomniac

    TheInsomniac Aspirant (267) Jan 11, 2015 New Mexico
    Society

    Since your local, go take a visit to the distillery and report back. Or give them a call and see what they say.

    edit: nevermind. Just saw that you're in New York.
     
  35. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Crusader (754) Nov 19, 2009 Ohio
    Trader

    All that peaty talk made my thirsty....and I need a new bottle of Islay smoky-sweetness

    [​IMG]
     
  36. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,336) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    A bit surprised there was no banter about Ardbeg day (which was last Saturday). Got to try a dram of the newest version and thought it was pretty good. Not sure how much the rum barrel aging added, but it didn't hurt it. During the "day" event, my local was selling drams for $9.50 a glass, which I thought was pretty sweet.
     
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  37. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (315) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia
    Trader

    Can you kindly shut up already, and not ruin Springbank/ Longrow :wink::crazy_face::stuck_out_tongue:!?
    Just kidding there's plenty of people who seek the hell out of them, at least in DC.

    The Macallan has one thing people want (100% sherry for the full maturation) and they keep raising the price on it, whilst dangling other stuff made other ways, to lure people into buying the brand without the expense of full maturation in Sherry. I would never say Mac 'sucks' but The Glendronach or Aberlour (A'bunadh) or Glengoyne are the value plays for the sherry bomber @thesherrybomber in your life. You can get 2b of these brands for the price of 1 Mac of comparable maturation.

    The thing The Macallan 18yr has going for it is that if you want your accountant/ lawyer/ FIL to know you spent $300 on his present, everyone in the Scotch world knows how much it costs. It's a stupid reason but it does exist.