All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


Of Whiskey

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.


  1. Susan2:05 PM

    The excellence of these two articles was why I asked Cheddarman if he would write the same kind of article as a guest on your blog about the subject of cheese. He said he would ask you about it maybe.

    I just think that would be a fascinating read since I don't know anyone who is a hater of cheese. Even the folks I know that have to watch their dairy still love cheese.

    What I found kind of amusing was Nate's assumption that we would hate all the "chemistry" aspect of it, but with my experience of cooking and baking, I found Cheds article no problem at all to follow.

  2. WaterBoy2:40 PM

    First, I claim no particular expertise on the subject. I like what I like and I don't like what I don't like. I've tried different bourbons and found all but one to be highly unpalatable, but I don't fault anyone else for enjoying them. Same with Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, Australian whisky, Japanese whisky, etc.

    Furthermore, Res Ipsa, you show yourself to be at least as knowledgeable on the subject as I am, and you've already covered the basics well enough.

    That being said, you asked for my five most favorite Scotch whiskys, so here they are. I decided to pick one favorite from each of the regions of Scotland where they are produced. Almost all of them are single malts.

    1. Highland: The Dalmore Cigar Malt. Hands down my most favorite of all scotch whiskys. As the name implies, it's the perfect scotch to enjoy with a cigar -- the stronger the tobacco, the better, as the scotch provides a nice counterbalance with its smooth, caramel nature. Unfortunately, they stopped producing this line in 2009. A few years after local stocks ran out, WaterGirl and I went to a nice restaurant for our anniversary dinner. Glancing through the scotch list on the drink menu, I happened to see the Cigar Malt listed. I excitedly asked the waiter if they actually had it in stock, and he went off to check. When he came back with the answer of "two bottles", I proceeded to order a glass for a pseudo-aperatif...and a full bottle to go. Paid twice as much for it as at the liquor store, but it was the only one in town I could find. Then last year they came out with a new version of it: Cigar Malt Reserve. A new recipe, not quite as good as I remember the old one was, and three times the price. But it's still at the top of the list. (Honorable Mention: Speyburn 10yo. This is the Highland scotch I started drinking when the Cigar Malt ran out, because it's a decent taste for the price.)

    2. Lowland: Auchentoshan Three Wood. Triple-distilled single malt, matured in three different casks (bourbon, Oloroso sherry, and Pedro Ximénez sherry), gives this one a very unique and wide range of flavors. That they apparently use an unpeated malt means none of the characteristic smoky flavor for which most scotch is reknowned. This one doesn't need it, however, since there are so many other tastes and aromas to savor

    3. Speyside: Glenfiddich 12yo. An old and favorite standby, something I always try to keep on hand. A smooth yet hearty flavor with a mildly peaty overtone. Glenfiddich is the world's best-selling single malt scotch, from the region with the most distilleries in Scotland...and deservedly so.

  3. WaterBoy2:41 PM

    4. Islay: Ardbeg 10yo. When people think of smoky, peaty scotch, this is what they mean. If you like peaty scotches, you'll love this one; if you don't, you'll hate it. And if you really, really like peaty, you'll also want to try The Peat Monster. Albeit a secret blend of single malts, it takes the heartiest of the Islays for a unique experience. Although I don't usually cut my scotch with water, you might want to consider it with this one. A little dram'll do ya.

    5. Campbelltown: My Liquid Tour of Scotland ended prematurely in Islay, so I've yet to taste any of the offerings from this region. Considering there's only about three distilleries here, I'm not sure if my usual liquor store even carries any of them. So instead, I'll substitute one from The Islands, an unofficial sub-region of the Highlands that is comprised of the various islands scattered around the north-west of the mainland. The recommendation here is Scapa 16yo. Although I haven't actually tried this one yet, it is sitting on the bar waiting to be tried, a birthday present from a good friend last weekend and he vouches for it. I have no doubt it will be another fine scotch whisky.

    So there you go. There are some notably good whiskys missing from this list, but they're either blends like Johnny Walker Blue (my preference is for single malts) or not at the top of their respective region in my taste ranks (Balvenie DoubleWood, Glenlivet).

  4. WB,

    If you don't want to stop at 5 go right ahead and keep going.

  5. WaterBoy2:52 PM

    Res Ipsa: "I generally don't mix whiskey with anything other than ice or maybe a splash of water."

    The general recommendation on this is that, if you do add water/ice, try to get water from the same source as the distillery draws from. That way, the chemical balance in the water/ice will approximate that of the end product and not add any additional flavors. And if you can't procure it from the source, then use distilled water to remove traces of other chemicals.

    I don't typically add either to mine -- the exception might be a cask strength bottle, though I usually drink...errrr, sip... those neat, too.

    And scotch and Drambuie (rusty nail) is a good mixed drink, if you do want to mix it with something else.

    1. I'm not real anti mixed drinks but most of the time if I want a whiskey, I want to taste it. If all there is available to drink is bottom shelf stuff then that's fine. I'm not going to pour coke over my Three Wood.

      When I think of Canadian Whiskey I normally think of mixed drinks. 7&7, Crown and Coke etc. There is a reason Canadian whiskey is called brown vodka. Anything that has to be mixed to be choked down can't be good for you.

    2. WaterBoy4:10 PM

      "I'm not going to pour coke over my Three Wood."

      I should hope not. That, Sir, would be Blasphemy!

  6. I have to admit that I like the Balvenie and the Three Wood. The Three Wood is near the top of my list.

    I'm going to admit it. I like Famous Grouse. It's not the greatest thing going, but its good mellow whiskey. I almost never see it, but the 16 year old is tasty. It's also on the less expensive side of the chart.

    I don't like any scotch that is medicinal or antiseptic in taste. I don't know why anyone would put either of those down as a marketing point. I'm glad they do, it alerts me to avoid buying it.

    I'm also going to admit to liking Jack Daniels, Bushmills and Jameson, not in that order but I do like them. I realize that JD is a mass produced product, Bushmills is over advertised etc. Still I'll drink them.

    I'm not as informed on bourbon. I've found though that the best way to try bourbon that I'm not familiar with is to take a sip warm and full strength and then add water to loosen it. Sometimes it just helps to dilute the richer bourbons so they are more enjoyable. I suppose that if I drank them regularly that I might do a better job appreciating them. BBQ sauce is always better with bourbon in the base.

    One other admission I prefer a triple distilled product over single distilled.

  7. WaterBoy3:04 PM

    Res Ipsa: "If you don't want to stop at 5 go right ahead and keep going."

    Well, you'll notice my list of "5" actually snuck in two or three more than that... ;)

    There'll be more to come in the years to come, I'm sure...especially when my virtual tour of Scotland becomes a real one.

    1. I'd love to do a brewery and distillery crawl through Ireland, England and Scotland.

  8. WaterBoy3:23 PM

    Res Ipsa: "I'm going to admit it. I like Famous Grouse."

    Believe it or not, FG is actually the best-selling Scotch Scotland.

    I used to have a bottle of Cutty Sark around, too, until I drank all that up. There's nothing wrong with the blends, at all. For me, the preference for single malts means that what most of my favorites are and what I tend to buy most often.

    "I'm also going to admit to liking Jack Daniels, Bushmills and Jameson"

    Again, nothing wrong with that. Tried and didn't care for the first (Tennessee bourbon), haven't tried either the second or the third...yet.

    Many moons ago, a friend bought me a round of one of those spiced bourbons. Can't remember which one, but it was pretty good. I chalked it up at the time to the spice covering up the real taste, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

    I just wished he could remember what he ordered, as I would get a bottle of it for home.

  9. The last time I was at your place you treated me to a glass of the Cigar Malt. I never was able to find it again. You got me hooked on the Three Wood. Living here its hard to get the better booze simply because Crown passes for top shelf.

    A couple of years back I introduced a buddy to Bushmills in elk camp. He admitted it was the best whiskey he ever tasted. I just bought the standard bottle, nothing special. His entire life he'd been drinking Kessler's or Crown when he was living it up. He'd had Jack one time when he was a kid but couldn't remember if he liked it or not. He doesn't seem to be too different from most folks around here. Which is why the choices are limited at the liquor store.

  10. I'm not a big drinker anyway. But I like Maker's Mark, on Nate's suggestion. Probably my favorite is one called Pendleton. It hails from Canada, eh.

    So if you don't agree with my liquor choices just shake your head and realize I don't know any better. I can get through life drinking the occasional Windsor and Coke.

    1. Why would I care what you drink?

      As long as you like it, enjoy. I seldom have time or inclination to drink anymore at all. When I do I'm fussy about what sounds good to me.

  11. Susan9:04 AM

    I have a recipe for homemade Baileys that uses Jameson that is so close to the store bought, that I can't tell the difference. The nice thing is, it has NO eggs in it. The consistency and sweetness comes from a can of sweetened condensed milk.

    If you would be interested, I can pull the recipe and put it up here. It is a very good one. I like homemade things that taste like the store bought, and this does.

  12. Susan, I'd like the recipe.

  13. Susan,

    Please email it and I'll give it its own post.