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Bartenders Tell Us The One Scotch They’d Drink If They Were Snowed In

If you’re lucky, the hardest part of winter comes when you throw on a cable-knit sweater and wander outside to grab another log for the fire. If you’re decidedly less lucky, those logs are already buried in snow and the trek outside becomes a full-on mission. It could be a lot worse. In huge parts of the country, a snowstorm can fully cut you off from society. Phones down. Power out. (Get those logs inside now, fam, before it’s too late!)

A full-on whiteout is likely to present myriad problems. Some (but not all) of which can be solved with a nice double-pour of scotch. Michelle Hamo, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia likes peaty whiskies when she’s snowed in.

“If I were curled up on the couch on a snowy evening, it’s a safe bet I’d have a glass of Islay single malt Scotch whisky,” she says. “You have to love the almost-overwhelming peat character it has to offer. There is a fine salinity to the nose with notes of black tea and spices. The palate envelopes you in warm sweet sherry, fruit, and oak.”

If peat-smoked whisky isn’t for you, there are plenty of other warming whiskies available when the winter weather leaves you housebound. To help you pick the one for you, we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one Scotch whisky they’d sip on if they were snowed in.

Glenmorangie Lasanta

Kyle Ritchie, bar manager at Doug Fir in Portland, Oregon

If I’m snowed in, I’m settling in with something from Glenmorangie. While you can’t go wrong with the Glenmorangie 10 Year Original, I’m going for a Lasanta or Nectar D’or.

These smooth whiskies will both keep you warm on a cold winter night.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Scott Kollig, beverage director of Rye Street Tavern in Baltimore

Ardbeg Uigeadail has to be the one. Named for the loch that the water is sourced from for all Ardbeg Whisky. They wouldn’t name the whiskey after the water that they exclusively use if it weren’t brilliant, which it most certainly is.

Lagavulin 8 Year

Brian Krux, mixologist and bartender at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont

The Smokey-peat and richness of Lagavulin 8 year is perfect for a snowed-in evening next to the fireplace. One of the richest and smokiest scotches on the market, Lagavulin is not for the faint of heart but sure will warm you up on a cold night.

Springbank 10 Year

Nick Detrich, co-owner of Jewel of the South in New Orleans

If I was ever snowed in, I would grab for a bottle of Springbank 10 Year. Easy to drink, non-chill filtered Cambelltown scotch. A lot of flavor and a lot of warmth.

Dalmore King Alexander

Mike Raymond, owner of The Cottonmouth Club in Houston

You would be hard-pressed to find a more delightful and complex scotch than the Dalmore King Alexander to enjoy while waiting out a snowstorm.

The Balvenie 14

Ron Manlapid, bartender at Menlo Tavern in Menlo Park, California

The Balvenie 14 is the perfect snowstorm whisky. I tend to like the blend of sweet over smoke and this one is perfectly peat balanced. Neither flavor is overbearing the other.

Lagavulin 16 Year

Cameron Lang, bartender at Center Hub in Irvine, California

Lagavulin 16 Year, absolutely. By far leading as one of the best peaty scotches out there. This is not a casual scotch. It’s full of personality and a mouthful of flavor. I just love the intense smokiness this scotch brings with a balanced peppery smoked finish. One of my absolute favorites.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Jay Oakley, bartender at B&O American Brasserie in Baltimore

Ardbeg Corryvreckan for sure. The high-intensity peatiness of their blend creates a feeling of being surrounded by heavy smoke and total warmth. It’s like an instant campfire in your body.

The Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood

Drew Hairston, beverage manager at Dirty Habit in Washington, DC

Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood is readily available and affordable enough to stock up on during a snowstorm, but of extremely high quality. The double-barrel finishes really smooth out this scotch.

Glenfiddich 12 Year

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Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC

Glenfiddich 12 year is one of my favorite pours of scotch. The flavor profile hits all the nails on the head when looking for a scotch. It’s smooth enough with just the right amount of smoke to make it the perfect pour.

Talisker Storm

Rebecca Edwards, bar manager at Tavola in Charlottesville, Virginia

If for some reason I was stuck somewhere during a snowstorm, I’d lean into it with Talisker Storm. It’s got all the warming spices and smoke you need to warm up after frolicking in the snow.

BenRiach Peated Cask Strength

Daniel Burns, manager and bar lead at Elixir in San Francisco

Snowed in, eh? BenRiach Peated Cask Strength is hot enough to melt through any snowdrift. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a smoky, peated whisky on a cold day.

Lagavulin 12 Year

Paul Sanchez, general manager at Alma Cocina Latina in Baltimore

It’s been a while since I’ve been snowed in, but having a bottle of Lagavulin 12 year by my side would certainly make for a relaxing evening. I like my scotches peaty and this single malt scotch from Islay, Scotland is perfect.

The Macallan 18

Ricardo Garcia, beverage director at CUT in Washington, DC

If I were snowed in, I’d enjoy a great scotch and a fine cigar. Macallan 18 has been in my wheelhouse for some time now. It helps that it’s readily available.

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