This post is a continuation of a thread over at Nate's.
I asked our Scotch expert Waterboy what his five favorite scotches are and he suggested that the topic deserved a thread of its own. I'm putting this up as a starter. If he is willing Waterboy can have his own post(s) devoted to the subject.
For the record I'm not much of a drinker. I'm more of a sipper these days and even then I don't imbibe very often. When I do have a glass I want to enjoy the culinary experience.
I like whiskey. Generally I like it on the rocks. I enjoy the changing characteristics of a beverage that starts out strong and cold and progresses through a evolution of flavor as the beverage dilutes and warms. I've found that most all quality whiskies can be enjoyed this way and when I have a sip this is how I prefer to go. I generally don't mix whiskey with anything other than ice or maybe a splash of water.
Content of the mash, distillation, grain content, ageing, processes etc all effect the flavor. Distillation is probably the most noticeable quality to a novice drinker. Whiskey is normally distillated between 1 to 3 times prior to ageing. An example of single distilled whiskey would be most Canadian made whiskeys. American whiskey, and Highland Scotch are normally distilled twice. Lowland Scotch and Irish Whiskeys are normally distilled three times before aging.
Whiskey is known for having a "bite" when you taste it. The distillation process effects the perception of how "smooth" the beverage is. If you like the effect of a strong "bite" when you start drinking then the single distillation whiskies are probably going to be more to your liking. If you enjoy a "smooth" experience that allows more potential to explore the subtle flavors then the double or triple distilled products should get your attention.
So far you'll notice I haven't said a word about what is better, American, Canadian, Irish, Scotch. That's because with the exception of Canadian whiskey, I like examples of them all. Canadian whiskey is an abomination. That said there is one Canadian whiskey I would like to try. The only reason for trying it was that my great grandfather bootlegged it during prohibition.
Waterboy, I leave the rest of this post in your capable hands and knowledgeable palate.