1 - Go off to your local liquorist
2 - Fork over your U$ 40,-
3 - Tell the clerk you want a good bottle of single malt
4 - Ask for a complementary gift-wrap
4 - Complement the clerk on his choice
5 - Go home
6 - Try it
7 - Try it some more
8 - Pass out

O.K., now you know all a beginner needs to know for his or her first shaky steps into maltland.
This means it's time to actually spend some of your hard earned dosh in real life. Well... of course there are some creative ways of obtaining free drinks that require a blonde wig and access to a bathroom window, but I won't go into those right now. Besides, why should you go through all the trouble if you can have a perfectly legal close encounter with single malts for no more than a mere 40 Euro's / U$ Dollars?
That's right Mike, only 40 Euro's or Dollars!

Admittedly, this is a fun way to get yourself acquainted with the concept of single malts, but at the end of the evening you will only know one thing: You either like or don't like that particular single malt. This information isn't very useful, because of the extreme differences between malts. The fact that you like the Macallan 12 doesn't mean you will like the Bowmore 12, for instance. Besides; depending on the taste of the clerk at your liquorist isn't the best way of going about it. With some precious exceptions, most of the clerks and liquorists know very little about single malts.

Instead of gambling on a big bottle, you could also take your U$/Eur. 40.- and taste four or five different single malts at your local bar. Most bars offer only a very small selection of single malts, and the noisy, smoky atmosphere isn't always the best way to experience a malt. If you do decide to go out, I recommend you ask specifically for a cognac glass.

The third way to get to know single malts is through the means of a wonderful new invention, called miniature bottles. U$/Eur. 40.- should buy you at least five or six different miniatures, and you'll even have some money left for a "reference" blend - for example Teacher's.

A lot of liquorists offer a set of miniature-bottles of the "classic malts" series; six malts from different parts of Scotland, selected for you by the people of United Distillers. You get  Lagavulin 16 yrs, Oban 14 yrs., Talisker 10 yrs., Glenkinchie 10 yrs., Cragganmore 12 yrs. and Dalwhinnie 15 yrs. Six very different single malts for the price of a bottle of blended whisky - I think it's a great offer.  I tried it some years back and it helped me a lot in defining my tastes.

Spread the gospel! Share your fun to double your fun - A SMSW should be shared to be enjoyed to the fullest. The best way to experience the wonderful world of single malts is in good company. So why not organize a tasting session with some friends? I organize a tasting at least once a month, and these sessions are always a lot of fun.
Here's how you do it:  

It's amazing how many people have their first SM-experience with a Glenfiddich Special Reserve, simply because their liquorist tells them it's the biggest selling malt. OK, a "Fiddich" doesn't cost much, but even in that price-range there are some far better malts available. Not all malts will cost you an arm-and-a-leg; a lot of them even are in the same price-range as the middle-class blends like Johnnie Walker Black. So don't pay more than the amount mentioned above for your first bottle.

T he malts mentioned in the list are from different parts of Scotland,
and each one of them has got its own unique character. Which one you like best is just
a matter of personal taste. While you are sniffing and slurping you can compare the malts to a "neutral" blend and to each other. Trust me, you'll be amazed! At the same time, you can determine what "type" of malt is your favorite, and compare notes with your friends.
Easy enough, eh?

O.K., let's proceed to the final chapter - a proper conclusion.

As possible starting points for your explorations I would suggest:

Aberlour 10yo (Speyside)
Ardbeg 10yo (Islay)
Auchentoshan 10yo (Lowlands)
Balvenie 12yo DoubleWood (Speyside)
Glendronach 15yo Sherry (Speyside)
Glenlivet 12yo (Speyside)
Glenmorangie 10yo (Highlands)
Glen Scotia 14yo (Campbeltown)
Highland Park 12yo (Orkney)
Lagavulin 16yo (Islay)
Laphroaig 10yo (Islay)
Longmorn 15yo (Speyside)
Macallan 12yo (Speyside)
Talisker 10yo (Skye)

Option 1 - Buy a bottle

Here's four ways of getting to know single malts for the price of a good middle class blend:
(or the equivalent in your own currency).

T he first option is the easiest, and requires little or no intelligence
at the purchasing side of the transaction.

Option 2 - Go to a bar

Option 3 - Buy a bunch of little bottles

The Classic Malts

Option 4 - Organize a tasting session

  1 - Tell all your friends about this website
  2 - Pick a date as soon as you've assembled four or five accomplices
  3 - Have everybody pick and buy a bottle of single malt of their choosing
  4 - Clean your apartment
  5 - Make sure you've got the right glassware (2 glasses p/p)
  6 - Make sure you've got the right water
  7 - Welcome your friends (and their bottles...)
  8 - Synchronize your watches
  9 - Start having fun!

Wouldn't it be a bummer when everybody showed up with a Glenfiddich Special Reserve?
Yes it would.

Some synchronization, research and preparation is necessary for a successful tasting session. And this is where my website comes in. To experience the full variety of single malts it might be a good idea to choose your first malts based on the various whisky-regions.

Glenfiddich Special Reserve
one of the few
avoidable malts

I've added the region of origin to every single malt I've tasted on my Little Black Book; It's a list of the 200 single malt whiskies I sampled extensively during phase 1 of my mission.

Surf to Scotchwhisky.comDrop me a note...

Chapter 9  -  Practice

Malt Madness mAlmanac - Basic information about single malt Scotch whiskyA Beginner's Guide to SMSWHistory and statistics on all active distilleries in ScotlandLinks to other whisky websitesMy Big Black Book - All the knowledge I've gained on my alcoholic adventuresMy Little Black Book - Brief notes on all sampled whiskiesMy Track Record - Essential stats on all sampled maltsMy Hit List - an overview of my favourite whiskiesThe name says it all...My 'Bang For Your Buck' List - Which whiskies offer the best value for your money?My Stock List - An overview of the bottles in my whisky collectionMy Liquid Log - A chronological overview of my alcoholic adventuresVirtual whisky map of Scotland
Beginner's Guide OverviewChapter 2 - VocabularyChapter 10 - ConclusionChapter 2 - VocabularyChapter 3 - GeographyChapter 4 - DistillationChapter 5 - MaturationChapter 6 - BottlingChapter 7 - Shopping for whiskyChapter 8 - Enjoyment

Practice

Previous ChapterNext Chapter
Previous ChapterNext Chapter
Go BackIntroduction SitemapHelpContactHomepageIntroduction