youth to power, or too powerful?

Here’s an article we liked about the new prevalence of younger whiskies among distillery expressions:
Four Year Old Whisky Comes of Age.

I think this is a great trend. Laphroaig is on top of it with the genius of the Quatercask bottling (a vatting of whiskies 5-9 years of age). These younger, (sometimes) cheaper bottles balance out the trend toward rising prices in general.

But I think it is indicative of several things:

    1. whisky is more popular overall, and since the response-time of the industry to trends is considerable (eg, Laphroaig just now released its response to the ca. 1990 popularity of the Macallan 18), having a ready supply of whisky is critical while the whisky boom lasts.
    2. more people are more familiar with whisky and whisky appreciation; whereas folks used to judge a whisky by its age (due to lack of understanding, often), now the informed whisky consumer knows that age is not the determining factor of a whisky’s quality.
    3. And yes, more care is being put into younger whiskies than might have been a long time ago (again, see Quatercask, Ardmore Traditional Cask, etc). Wood has been much more carefully considered over the past half-century, enough that distilleries are realizing that just a few years is enough to round out the spirit in the right kind of cask.

I’m a fan, but what about those high-priced, premium young whiskies (the Supernovas, Port Charlottes, and Octomores)? Gimmickry, or simply the high-end of the young-whisky market and worth the cash?

Comment request: your favorite whiskies 9 years old and younger.

Also, stay tuned for a review of some young Laphroaigs later in the week.

10 Cheap Scotches to Get You Started

A number of people here at the Whisky Party have been discussing some cheap, quality bottlings to recommend to folks just getting into drinking single malt scotch whisky.  Here’s what one of us came up with.  Let us know what you think:

  1. Jura Superstition (never had it, but young peated casks vatted with 23 yo unpeated casks from a unique Island distillery; $40-45)
  2. Highland Park 12 yo (one of my favorites, a critical darling, and a true “all-rounder” Island whisky for under $40)
  3. Glenkinchie 10 yo (light and grassy, with a non-citrus fruit in the middle. Maybe pears).
  4. Caol Ila 12 yo (I prefer the 18 yo, but at $45, this one is peatier and more interesting than often assumed)
  5. Laphroaig Quartercask ($47; a vatting of young whiskies finished in tiny casks, imparting much wood flavor and mellowness.  Anyone who hasn’t had this should kill themselves)
  6. Clynelish 14 yo (a northern, coastal Highland and undervalued)
  7. Glenmorangie 10 yo (another superb Highland; $40-50)
  8. Bowmore 12 yo ($30-40; see Dr. Whisky)
  9. Cragganmore 12 yo (top notch Speyside; big, floral nose; nice buttery body with some rich fruit and a touch of smoke; right around $50).
  10. Balvenie – either the 10 yo ($40) or the 12 yo doublewood ($50)