One of our favorite single malts is Bowmore,
When it’s time to buy a single malt Scotch, we generally call Park Avenue Liquor Shop, which hosts one of the largest retail collections of single malt whiskies in the country—339 selections (they can send you the full list)!
No matter how much you think you know, you can use a consultation with a single malt expert. Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide To Single Malt Scotch covers some 800 single malts (by the way, pairing the book with a bottle is a great idea). So were do you begin?
We begin by asking someone who’s had almost as many single malts as Michael Jackson. Park Avenue’s proprietor Jonathan Goldstein, a single malt expert and a Keeper of the Quaich,* offers this advice:
1. Like? First, does Dad even like Scotch? Have you seen him drink it before? You would be surprised how many people come in, notes Goldstein, and ask for a single malt because their father drinks Wild Turkey—which is a Bourbon! Ignorance is no reason for embarrassment, but it is a reason to consult a professional who wants to help you make the right choice.
*Quaich is pronounced kwaych with a gutteral “ch,” as in the Scottish loch or German ach and ich. The traditional shallow-bowl drinking vessel of Scotland, which has two or three handles, dates to the Druids. At parties and clan gatherings, large quaichs filled with whiskey were passed from person to person.
2. Brands? Do you know what brands of Scotch Dad drinks? Maybe he’s not even a single malt guy—the best-selling brands are blended Scotches. Your input will help your consultant determine what area(s) of Scotland to suggest for a single malt. A peaty Islay whisky like Bowmore is very different from a Speyside whisky like Balvenie, which has citrus and sherry flavors. The names of even a few of the labels on Dad’s shelf will help greatly. And if you know what he doesn’t like, that’s almost as important.
3. Budget? How much are you willing to spend and how many bottles do you want for your money. Do you want one super bottle? Do you want a variety of bottles so Dad has a “collection” to compare and contrast? Your expert should be able to find excellent choices in all price ranges, and knows about special new releases.
4. Collector? Is Dad a serious collector of single malts? Many distilleries create investment-worthy bottles (a recent bottling of The Macallan, a 57-year-old single malt Scotch in Lalique Crystal, retails for $19,100). An alternative for collectors are “exclusive” bottlings, handled by a few specialist shops. Park Avenue’s exclusives start at $67.
• For single malt help, call Park Avenue Liquor Shop at 1.212.685.2442.
• To learn how whiskeys differ (Bourbon, Canadian, Irish, Scotch, Tennessee, etc.) and beef up your whiskey terminology, see our Whiskey Glossary.
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