I am always surprised when I find people who don't know where scotch gets its name. The spirit is named purely for the fact that it is distilled in Scotland.
There are six different regions of Scotland where whiskey (or whisky if your being true to the region) is distilled: the Islands, Speyside, Highland, Islay, Campbeltown and Lowland. The distilleries began introducing whiskey made from wheat and barley in the late 18th century.
Let's celebrate the wonderful spirit that is scotch by looking over some of my favorites. Each one has its place on your liquor shelf.
Best to impress a guest: Macallan Rare
With the release of Rare Cask, Macallan is taking age out of the equation entirely, choosing instead to let the liquid speak for itself. I am not sure what the age (or combination of ages) was inside the bottle I had, but I will say it was delicious. Read more about Macallan Rare here.
Best for summer sipping: Balvenie 14
The Caribbean Cask is quite fantastic and the first bottle I hand to people who say, "I don't like scotch." The bottle is the perfect transition for the next generation of future scotch drinkers. It sits for 14 years in traditional oak barrels before making its transition over to rum casks giving it the smooth flavors of vanilla and fruit. Read more about Balvenie 14 here.
Best to spoil a loved one: Glenfiddich 26
With this bottle, Glenfiddich does a dignified tip of the cap to U.S. whiskey traditions by maturing it in bourbon casks for a minimum for 26 years. In the taste department, it's vibrant with a compelling balance of dry tannin and soft brown sugar vanilla sweetness. A deep oak flavor gradually builds, with hints of spice and licorice shining through. Read more about Glenfiddich 26 here.
Best for looking manly: Lagavulin 16
This is a great scotch with a firm hand at first and a smooth finish. The taste of peat will hit you pretty hard, but it quickly subsides and becomes extremely drinkable. Fun fact: This is the favorite drink of Ron Swanson, the manly man with a glorious mustache played by Nick Offerman on Parks and Rec.
Best for everyday use: Monkey Shoulder
Monkey Shoulder is a superb blended malt whiskey, made with single malts. The result is a smooth, creamy, and very malty scotch, which works superbly well neat, over ice, or where it excels is in a whiskey cocktails.
Booze News Insider Josh Hart is an amateur reviewer, but a professional drinker. He has been sipping and learning about whiskeys for a more than a decade and hopes to help you sift through the basics, to find the best bottles for you.