“I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch.” – Ron Burgundy.
Scotch is one of the most unique tasting whiskies in the world. The British treasure is a blend of malted barley, yeasts, fresh water, aged wood, and long-honed skill. Many scotches also feature whispers (sometimes screams) of peat — the dense, oil-rich soil often used to toast the barley.
Generally speaking, Scotch comes in two forms: blended and single malt. Those terms are pretty self-explanatory. Blended simply means that what’s in the bottle is a blend of whiskies from varying distillers, mixed together to create the taste the master blenders are looking for. Single malt refers to a bottle of whisky that’s distilled at a single distillery with only malted barley.
We’re dealing with both types of scotch whisky as a journey through the style. Blended scotch tends to be a little more accessible for the average drinker. There can be big notes of smoke and seaside brine at play, but they tend to be — and, again, we’re speaking very generally here — a bit more mellow and balanced. Single malts can also be mellowed but they’re more likely to go big on certain notes, think big rushes of seawater brininess or billowing smoky peat.
Overall, scotch has enough nuance and variation to be a great dinner party drink. Here are the bottles to keep on hand for your guests.