Tasting The Classic Malts Selection's Single Malts
But there are times you don't want the whole symphony and that's where single malts come in. Single malts are used in the blending of whiskies and each hits a particular note that goes into the blending process. Some are fruity, some are smoky, some are grassy and each reflects its unique heritage. If you like a certain note in some whiskies you can pursue that interest through single malts. The Classic Malts Selection spans a wide range of tastes for whisky lovers who enjoy different tastes. For me, it's the smokies. There's something alchemical about an amber liquid that manages to contain the aroma and taste of smoke. In a recent tasting I attended they had us taste the Lagavulin 12 Year Old from Islay ($74.99) last because it's the one that sticks with you. One sip and you will be tasting smoke on your palate for hours. The sensation is not unpleasant. This is a strong whisky, one best opened up with a little water, but there's also an underlying gentleness beyond the immediate peaty char. The water helps the creamy sweetness underneath develop. It's a bit like a drinkable smoked Gouda. In my hastily-typed iPhone notes I called it a 'mac daddy whisky' not just for the taste but also for a certain sensation of swagger that comes with drinking a whisky so totally given over to the smoke. A less intense but still smoky option is the Talisker Distillers Edition ($79.99) it has a similar paneled library appeal, a nose of woodsmoke and leather and a taste that is smoky but a little more fruit-centered.
Working our way even a little lighter, we find Oban The Distillers Edition ($99.95). This one is like walking through the Highlands. It has notes of orange and mint and a bit of a floral nose. My fellow taster Jeremy Azevedo of Crave Online did a fun piece equating these malts with various people. He paired Oban with Jude Law which pretty much says it all, it's a dandy of a whisky. And finally, for those who are whisky newbies the perfect starter single malt might just be Dalwhinnie The Distillers Edition ($74.99). It's gentle, soft and gets a dose of dried fruit sweetness from maturing in sherry casks.