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Searching For Scotch Whiskey - by Furey

Searching For Scotch Whiskey

Over the last year I have started to experiment with single malt Scotches. It started last year when at Mikie Squared they got a bottle of Macallan 12 year old. The owner handed me a glass, asking what I thought. It was smooth, a bit smokey and I liked it more after I cut it with a few ice cubes.

Later, Mike got a bottle of Johnny Walker: Blue for the bar. Very different than what i'm used to from other blended scotches, and very enjoyable. Don't know how often i'd be ordering that at $25 a glass. We got an Oban, a Lagavulin and The Glenlivet which I had a chance to sample. Sometimes more than once.

Eventually, to make sure Mikie's didn't go bankrupt, I wanted to buy my own bottle, but wasn't sure which to buy. Single malt or blended scotches can be expensive, especially the better ones, and I saw prices from $39 for The Macallan to $140 for Johnny Walker Blue at the local liquor stores. 121207a.jpgI knew a little bit about some of the bigger name whiskys (Glenlivet, Glenmorangie) but also knew that whisky can vary greatly - much like wine. I didn't want to get stuck buying an expensive bottle of whisky and not like it, and I didn't want to buy a inferior quality scotch because I wanted to save money. I decided to buy Johnny Walker Green, figuring that a blend of single malts would be the way to go. It cost me about $80 from a local liquor store.

I first tried a glass neat. I tried one with a splash of water. Then another glass with ice. I enjoyed the Johnny Walker Green, but it wasn't that great, and for $80 a bottle, I was expecting more. I drank a glass from time to time over the last year, and also bought a no-name Scotch whisky for about $35, which was so-so. Last Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law brought over a 12 year old Glenmorangie (Sherry Cask) for Thanksgiving and we popped it open after gorging ourselves on turkey. I really liked it a lot, with a bit of ice, and when I got home I went to a local liquor store and purchased one for myself. It cost $57.99, and finished it in about 10 days. I bought a second bottle, and while at the store, looked at the various other scotches.

Like wine, I love to try new brands, and most of my wine I buy is from $10-30 a bottle. So even if I were to buy a $30 bottle of wine that I didn't like, it wasn't a big deal. Buying scotch, on the other hand, can be an expensive endeavor and the better single malts I saw on the shelf at the store cost from $50-150.

Then I thought about how I always scour the internet for the lowest price on electronics, why couldn't I just do the same for scotch?

So I did a bit of searching and was frankly amazed. I used the following websites:
A local Hoboken store's online website

I refrained from saying which liquor store in Hoboken I compared prices, but i'm sure you can easily figure out who i'm talking about. You should also be aware that there are a few disadvantages buying liquor online:

1. There are shipping charges. Whatever money you save can easily be lost if shipping is expensive.
2. You have to have someone sign for delivery. They won't leave it on your doorstep or send to a P.O. Box.
3. There's a convience that a brick and mortar store has over using a website. Also lots of better stores have knowledgable employees that can steer you in the right direction if you aren't sure which to choose. Using a website is better for someone who knows what they want, and doesn't need it right away.

Also note that i'm writing this as of December 12th 2007. So, the prices & availibility are subject to change.

I researched the following scotches, along with their age, and their region:

Ardbeg, 10 year old, Islay (South Coast)
Auchentoshan, 10 year old, Lowland
Balvenie, 12 year old, Speyside
Bowmore, 12 year old, Islay
Bunnahabhain, 12 year old, Islay
Cragganmore, 12 year old, Speyside
Dalwhinnie, 15 year old, Highland
Glenfiddich, 18 year old, Speyside
Glenkinchie, 10 year old, Lowland.
Highland Park, 12 year old, Orkney Islands.
Lagavulin, 16 year old, Islay (South Coast).
Laphroaig, 15 year old, Islay (South Coast).
The Macallan, 18 year old, Speyside.
Oban, 14 year old, West Highland.
Talisker, 10 year old, Isle of Skye
Glenmorangie (Sherry Wood), 12 year old, Highland
Glenlivet, 12 year old, Speyside.

Click HERE to see the results...

As you can see from the graph, the ones highlighted in red are the lowest price. It makes a significant difference, and not every website has a better price than our local stores. For example I know that 14 year old Oban has gotten extremely popular, and the local stores sell it for $86.99. Saving $39 is an extreme difference by shopping on I'm sure other scotch drinkers realized this too, which is why it is currently out of stock. On Samswine, Oban is available for $29 less than what it costs locally. Even with shipping you will save money.

I hope this helps you if you are looking to buy a nice present this holiday season for someone in your life who enjoys scotch.