Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Brother Can You Spare a Drink?

With all budgets under severe reduction until the new boiler is paid off, luxuries are the first to go, which definitely includes expensive liquor. Scotch, my favored think these days, is an expensive habit, but Eric Felton had a great column a few years about on the topic of "recession Scotch": inexpensive blended Scotches that offer significant quality. If one has developed any kind of a taste for Scotch, many of the common inexpensive blends aren't even worth the low price tags. However there are some very pleasant exceptions.

Teachers Highland Cream was, apparently, one of the more popular blended Scotches back in the 50s and 60s. These days, it has a huge following in parts of the developing world -- an acquaintance from India tells me that is the most popular Scotch in India -- but it's unheard of in the US. It sells for around $15 for a 1L bottle, and is, to my mind, about as good a Scotch as you can generally pick up for under $40. The problem is, as I've discovered since moving to Ohio, that it isn't available in all states. It is definitely available in Texas, New Jersey, New York and Washington State, but it is not available in Ohio (though in this regard it's in good company as Ohio has a socialist approach to liquor in which all liquor is sold by the state, and the list of brands the state sells is about as consumer friendly as one would expect given that situation.) I'd gone without my bottom shelf favorite for a year, until my future sister-in-law bought me a jug in the family gift exchange. (Clearly a woman who will fit in well in the family.)

If you live in Ohio, or simply want to try another good recession Scotch, my fallback has become Ballentine's Finest, which if anything is slightly cheaper (around $14.99 for 750ml.) It's a slightly mild Scotch -- nice if you're a drinker of Irish whiskeys but lower on the caramel and iodine notes which make Scotch more appealing in my view. Still, it's a solidly good bottom shelf Scotch. And for the price, a fairly outstanding one.

6 comments:

Jennifer Fitz said...

SuperHusband brought home some Ballentine's, and it is indeed perfectly drinkable. Our house table scotch is The Famous Grouse.

Tom Simon said...

I have never tried Teacher’s, but I seem to recall having a dram or two of Ballantine’s before. Thanks for the recommendation.

Though really — de gustibus and all that — Scotch is something I find exceptionally easy to give up when money is tight. I much prefer either Irish or bourbon: rank heresy in a Canadian whose grandfather came over from the Orkneys.

The way I figure it, the distinctive flavour of Scotch is mostly the taste of peat bogs; and we have plenty of homegrown peat bogs up here. If I want that flavour so much, I can always be patriotic and cheap, drink a belt of rye, and then go suck on a corner of Northern Ontario.

*silly grin*

Christopher said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I recently discovered McIvor, which is in very much the same price range:

http://www.bevnetwork.com/pdf/Aug07_Whisky.pdf

Darwin said...

Tom Simon,

It's my own shameful admission that despite being of Irish ancestry as much as anything else, I'm not all that attached to Irish whiskey, it seems gentle but a little bland to me. Though I suppose I could try to wiggle out by complaining that the distillers were a bunch of bloody orange men, with Bushmills allegedly having had a policy of not employing Catholics for a while. (I have it on moderately good authority that the political implications of whiskey brands are entirely an invention of Irish-American bars and draw no interest in Ireland.)

I am quite fond of Bourbon (my favored brand is Eagle Rare) but while world class Bourbon is much cheaper than world class Scotch, I don't have a favored bottom shelf Bourbon at the moment, so Bourbon runs me around $25/bottle to Scotch's $15. Maybe I need to find one...

Al said...

If you want to try a delicious bourbon that is ridiculously inexpensive, get Very Old Barton -- though you might have to go to Kentucky. Buffalo Trace is also delicious (around $20 for 750mL). Ancient Ancient Age (probably only available in Kentucky) is also quite good especially if you get the Party Source select (costs a little less than Buffalo Trace).

Darwin said...

I've had Buffalo Trace, which I like pretty well, though not quite as well as Knob Creek and Eagle Rare. I'll have to take a look for Very Old Barton.