What's the Right Scotch for You?
Are you a Ron Burgundy or Ron Swanson kind of scotch drinker?
Every day is a good day to enjoy scotch.
But July 27, National Scotch Day, is the best day to celebrate scotch and the weird, surly misanthropes who love it. As the five time Emmy Award-winning anchor of Channel 4 News, Ron Burgundy, says, "I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly."
Why drink scotch? Because "clear alcohols are for rich women on diets," as wisely said by Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation. If you're not a fan of scotch, then you just haven't found the right drink–either that, or you're just very uncool. So how do you know which scotch is right for you?
In terms of general flavor, scotches can be identified by region: Islay, Highland, Speyside, Campbeltown, and Lowland. Lowland scotches tend to be less intense and might be a good place to start if you're just beginning your journey to becoming a Cool Scotch Drinker. On the other hand, Islay scotches can be too overwhelming in scent and flavor for some. These are some choice selections to taste the full flavor spectrum scotch has to offer:
Highland Park was once named the "Best Spirit in the World." But you might particularly enjoy scotch from a region in Highland region (of which there are many) if you enjoy spicier (northern Highland) or sweeter notes (southern Highland) in your scotch. Some specific flavors notes include oak, heather, dried fruit, fruitcake, or smoke.
As a Lowland scotch, Glenkinchie has more subtle flavors. Sometimes described as green apple, lemon, honey, and oaky cereal flavors with a hint of spice, Glenkinchie's mellow taste makes for a good beginner's scotch.
Most Speyside scotches have a malty sweet flavor. One of many well-known Speyside scotches, Glenlivet has a smooth, fruity, and nutty flavor profile. Some say it even has a buttery taste; but most important is what Ron Burgundy says at dinner: "Yes, I am going to have three fingers of Glenlivet with a little bit of pepper and some cheese."
Campbeltown used to call itself the "whisky capital of the world," but the number of distilleries there has dramatically decreased in recent years. While Campbeltown has a less distinct style than other regions, its coastal location adds a bit of signature dryness and general pungency to its malts. Master of Malt describes Glen Scotia, in particular, as having "vibrant fruit... (peach flesh and green apple peels), followed by chewy vanilla fudge, a hint of salinity, then an array of oak-y spices including some char."
Laphroaig (pronounced "la-froyg) has been compared to Sharpie markers, butterscotch, burning tires, and cloves. "A symphony of smoke," reads one of Laphroaig's ads. "Tastes like a burning hospital. Earth never tasted so good." Like most Islay scotches, it's known for its smoky, peaty fragrance and flavor. This is my personal favorite because every sip is like a mouthful of campfire smoke.
Another well-known Islay scotch is Lagavulin, AKA Parks & Recreation's Ron Swanson's drink of choice, because Very Cool people can handle the intense flavor of Islay scotch. Before leaning back with this smoky single malt with a light finish, remember Ron Swanson's pre-scotch advice: "Prepare to experience true freedom and bliss."
So remember, "There is no wrong way to consume alcohol." That's boldly incorrect advice from Ron Swanson, because when scotch drinkers are wrong, at least they're confident about it. And as for the morning after a night spent drinking alone in your manly mahogany chair, here's another piece of Swanson wisdom: "Never been hungover. After I've had too much whiskey, I cook myself a large flank steak, pan-fried in salted butter. I eat that, put on a pair of wet socks and go to sleep."