Scotch Whisky in Flight

July 28, 2018

For whatever reason, there are a lot of folks out there who are fearful of the entire Scotch whisky category. Perhaps it’s a fear of mispronunciation (drinking can actually HELP to cure this fear) or perhaps you fear a smoky, medicinal experience (there are many Scotch whiskies with nary a hint of smoke). Or maybe you’re a huge Scotch whisky fan and are interested in a more focused tasting experience. Whichever camp you fall in, I believe that whisky flights are the best way to explore the category.

In the past, we’ve run pieces on how to put together a whiskey tasting party and have offered some general guidelines on building a flight, but I wanted to create some actual flights for you to duplicate at home. Whisky flights allow you to compare and contrast the whiskies as you taste, rather than just tasting in a vacuum. Just make sure to save a bit in each glass before moving so you can revisit. I’d say use at least three, and no more than five whiskies in a session to get the best experience as palates begin to fade. However, feel free to repour your favorites as the night progresses.

Jot down your tasting notes and be sure to highlight which ones you liked (and even more importantly, which ones you DIDN’T like). This way, the next time you head to the liquor store or your favorite whisky bar, you don’t have to play 20 questions with the clerk or bartender for another suggestion.

Drinking tends to stoke the hunger urge, so make sure to have some snacks on hand to go along with the theme—such as a variety of Scottish cheese selections or Scottish smoked salmon on toast points. You could even go a step further and prepare a hearty stew to have post-flight.

Below you’ll find some suggestions with average US retail bottle prices listed. We’ve kept the suggestions under $100 each and made sure these are widely available offerings. These are listed in our suggested pouring order, but feel free to mix around as you see fit. Please fasten your seatbelt and make sure your seat backs are in an upright and locked position, because we are ready for takeoff.

Intro to Scotch Flight

If you’re just dipping your toes into the category, this flight highlights mild and crowd-pleasing flavors such as honey, fruit and vanilla.

Dewar’s 12 Year ($29)
Famous Grouse ($18)
Glenmorangie Original ($36)
Glenfiddich 12 Year ($41)
Auchentoshan American Oak ($41)

Dewar’s 12 Year / Photo Credit: Dewar’s

Horizontal Flight

No, this isn’t referring to drinking until you are in the prone position. This type of flight refers to trying similar whiskeys from different distilleries/producers. In this case, these whiskies are all aged for 12 years, but we’ve mixed blends and single malts in the list for fun.

Chivas Regal 12 Year ($32)
Glen Grant 12 Year ($48)
Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year ($59)
Caol Ila 12 Year ($69)
Johnnie Walker Black 12 Year ($38)

Chivas Regal 12 Year / Photo Credit: Chivas

Sherry Time

This flight is for those with a bit of a sweet tooth. The sherry wine casks used, at least in part in the maturation process, adds fruity flavors and a hint of sweetness. These are full-bodied drams, perfect after a meal.

Glendronach Original 12 Year ($64)
Highland Park Dark Origins ($83)
The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year ($64)
Glenfarclas 12 Year ($55)
Aberlour A’Bunadh ($94)

Glendronach Original 12 Year / Photo Credit: Glendronach

Peat Smoke Progression

As the title suggests, this flight will gradually increase the peat factor as you go along. Have some water handy as some of these are cask strength.

Talisker 10 Year ($69)
Springbank 12 Year Cask Strength ($94)
Port Charlotte 10 Year Second Edition ($67)
Ardbeg An Oa ($66)
Laphroaig 10 Year Cask Strength ($74)

Talisker 10 Year / Photo Credit: Talisker

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