Since nowadays there are so many kinds of whiskey it is good to know where to start from, so here we have picked some of the smoothest single malt scotch for beginners.
The true love and the importance of whiskey in culture can be seen in its name. It is an adaptation of Celtic words for water – uisce and life – beatha, getting usquebaugh, i.e., whisk(e)y.
Alcohol has been known to humankind for thousands and thousands of years. There are some indications that first by now discovered “beer” was brewed in (around) Göbekli Tepe site (in present-day Anatolia) some 11,500 years ago, which is also the time around which first cereal domestication started in the Near East. The archaeologists have uncovered the famous T-shaped pillars in Göbekli Tepe, proclaiming the site to be of sacral importance, as one of the first temples. This site is also important because the time we are talking about is still somewhat seen as a tradition between hunter-gatherers and sedentary population. At the site several huge stone vessels were found, the biggest of them could hold 40 gallons of liquid, and those were interpreted as vessels for brewing beer from the first cereals used. If this assumption is correct, this means that alcohol had always been an important part of cultures and social life, so it is no wonder that whiskey as well has such an intimate place in history starting from its name.
But what about the history of whiskey itself? Though brewing was of course known prior to this date, the first official record story goes back in 1494, not so long ago as some might have thought, in the time of the reign of King James IV of Scotland, when he ordered from a friar named John Cor, to make the water of life from 8 bolls, or, 1,120 pounds of malt. And after that time almost nothing was recorded about whiskey distillation to the year 1644 when the taxation was introduced to alcohol. Anyway, whiskey was, of course, produced and consumed a lot, whether it was an underground activity or not. And since the 19th century, when a new law was brought up (the Excise Act) brewing whiskey became legal again a new golden age of whiskey had begun.
There are many kinds of whiskey nowadays, depending on the type of grain used, alcohol percentage, and geographic location. So that’s how we have Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, just to name some. If you would rather try yourself with American than European whiskey, we can recommend you to check out 6 Smoothest Bourbons to Drink Straight for Beginners. But we will here reconsider the smoothest single malt scotch for beginners.
Single malt scotch whisky (yes, when referring to single malt it is always spelled whisky, not whiskey) is probably the leading among all whiskeys. Single malt is “the” whiskey, made only from barley and yeast at a single distillery, hence the name (“single” referring to the single distillery).
When considering which the first bottle of scotch you’d chose, have in mind when thinking about what scotch to buy, a good scotch can be a rather expensive one. And choosing only single malt narrows our choices even more.
But first, if you are inexperienced it is not a stupid thing asking how to drink scotch for beginners. Well, one answer is: go to a pub and ask the bartender to recommend you the easiest scotch to drink. But before that, you would probably like to know some terminology. When going to that bar, you can ask for a dram of whiskey. Technically, the dram is 1/8 of a liquid ounce, but it has become adopted as a term for a simple glass of whiskey. Then you can decide if you will have it neat (pure), simple (with a drop or two of water) or smooth (probably the most popular with the ice cubes) as well.
In order to make some good recommendations or smoothest single malt scotch for beginners, we have searched on places such as The Whiskey Wash, Great Drams, Scotch Addict, The Whiskey Bar, Vinepair. Of course, we have also gone through advice for best scotch for beginners on Reddit and Quora. And as you can see from all these resources, even though we are talking only about single malts, the choice is vast. So, how did we choose the magnificent seven? Well first we were oriented towards the lighter variants which would suit beginners more, and then we simply picked those that were recommended the most. And apart from the light ones we have also added some flavor variations, including also some entry level peaty scotch for those who would prefer smokier tastes.
Get your glasses ready and let’s see which the smoothest single malt scotch for beginners are:
7. Highland Park 12
We start with the only pronounceable and understandable whiskey brands on our list. But it is also one of the oldest here. The Highland Park distillery was founded back in 1798 in the very north of Scotland. According to the producers they are the only ones left who still stick to the “five keystones” of whiskey production: the aromatic peat, hand turned floor maltings, maturing in sherry oak casks, cool maturation, and cask harmonization. Anyway, the smoky Highland Park should be on your list of smoothest single malt scotch for beginners after you have experienced some of the others you will find further on the list.
6. Aberlour 12
Aberlour distillery was wounded in 1879 in a Speyside whisky region of Scotland, although the first distillery of Aberlour was built in 1825 (but closed soon after). At the time it was built, it was one of the most modern distilleries, but it suffered the same destiny as many Victorian distilleries at the time, it was destroyed very soon after in 1898. What makes Aberlour’s taste a distinctive one is maturing in different casks. Aberlour is double matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry and American Oak barrels leaving a light fruitytaste.
5. Glenmorangie 10
Glenmorangie distillery was founded in mid-19th century, and has gotten its name from the place it was built on, derived from Gaelic meaning something like “the glen of tranquility” (Glean Mòr na Sìth) translated by the company itself and used as a recognizable phrase, though there were some complaints from those apparently better fluent in Gaelic. Namely, they stated that the real translation would be closer to “valley of big meadows”. But whatever the linguistic confusion we’ve got here, the more important thing now is the whisky itself. With a citrus and vanilla aroma and a fresh orange and peach aftertaste, it is one of the smoothest single malt scotch for beginners. According to the producers themselves, while maturing in bourbon casks Glenmorangie gets the perfect balance between sweetness and complexity.
4. Glengoyne 10
Glengoyne distillery sits in picturesque landscapes of Highland, and was founded in 1833. It is famous for producing Highland single malt which is then matured in the Lowlands. The production of whisky nowadays consists of single malt aged 10, 12, 17, 21 and 32 years as a core production, having limited editions as well. What makes Glengoyne taste uniquely is that in this distillery the bailey is only dried on hot air rather than being dried using smoke from the peat fires. That is what makes it perfect for beginners, having no peat, which leaves space for more sweet tastes to flourish.
3. Auchentoshan 12
As all these whiskeys have some significance in their names, that is also the case with Auchentoshan. In Gaelic “Achadh an Oisesin” (do not even try pronouncing this) it means something like the field of the corner . The distillery was founded in just around the year the Excise Act was proclaimed. Nowadays Auchentoshan is one of the last lowland single malts in production. The whisky is triple-distilled, which means it is sweeter, lighter and smoother, which makes it a great choice for the newbies as one of the smoothest single malt scotch for beginners.
2. Cragganmore 12
Cragganmore distillery was founded in 1869 by “one of the Scotch whisky greatest pioneers, John Smith”. He had picked the perfect spot to place a distillery at: being next to a railroad, having fresh spring water of Craggan burn near the place. Regarding the whisky itself, Cragganmore is made of lightly peated malt that gets spicy fruity taste after some years, and the perfect balance of those is the recommended 12 years. Even though Cragganmore is one of the most famous whiskeys of the Banffshire region, its production is limited, being one of the smallest distilleries in the region. Apart from already mentioned 12 year old, there are also 21 and 21 year old vintage and special editions.
1. Glenfiddich 12
We are all familiar with the nice logo Glenfiddich has with a recognizable stag on it, but probably a less known fact is that Glenfiddich actually means the valley of the deer in gaelic. Romantic as it is, it also comes from the one of the most prliica reas of Scotland famous for single malts, the Speyside. The distiller y was founded in 1886 by William Grant. An interesting fact, but not that much about him (he was an ordinary distiller and an excellent businessman of his time), concerns his granddaughter. Namely, she, Janet Roberts, was the oldest living person in Scotland, dying at 110 years of age in 2012. In her honor, eleven bottles were made as a special edition, the Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, marking her 110th birthday. Now back on the Glenfiddich 12. It is a choice for many beginners since it is a smooth and light and tasty. So, we recommend this single malt as one of the smoothest single malt scotch for beginners.