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01.06.11 by  

The “10 Reasons Scotch is Better Than Bacon” Scotch Slam

Sometimes you just need a reason to test-drive 16 scotches.

Our friend Jack (name changed to protect his wife’s reputation) admits his two favorite passions are scotch and bacon. Not in any particular order. Enjoyed together or alone (even once, one dipped into the other, according to police records), and as often as one’s liver and lower GI can handle.

His taste in scotch? Luxe. In bacon, not so much. So each year his birthday gifts range from The Big Book of Bacon to the “Oh I’m so surprised” set of vintage lowballs. This year, we decided to simply gift him the best bottle of Scotch to ever exist on the planet. How to crack the code with absolutely zero knowledge of whiskey? A “10 Reasons Scotch is Better Than Bacon” Scotch Slam. Four judges. 400 options. Bring your extra liver.

The Judges:

Four cocktail enthusiasts with ranging scotch experience from never to daily (hey, it’s only a problem if you drink alone).

The Venue:

A scotch-slinging sushi bar that boasts more than 400 single malts on the menu.

The Rules:

Four rounds of scotch tastings each, then a final round of the winners in each flight. No limits.

We narrowed our options with the scotch-ier (our gussied up twist on sommalier), ordered mounds of sushi rolls with extra rice, and let the flights begin.

The best way to taste scotch? With a drop of water to open it, alongside complex friends with wild imaginations. This will come in handy when describing the nuances of flavor and fragrance after sampling a dozen scotches.

Round 1: (in order of our end-of-flight ranking)

1. 12 Year Suntory Yamazaki
The verdict: “Whaasssup.” Got some toffee, got some smoke, got a few good Lost in Translation memories. We should scotch slam every night.
2. 10 Year Speyburn Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
The verdict: Right up the middle, a solid opener. “Just what you’d expect Scotch to taste like.” Ooh, not gonna make the cut.
3. 12 Year Highland Park

The verdict: Way too ashy, smokey. “Perfect for giving away.” Hmmm. Too polarizing to gift to someone you like.
4. 12 Year Bowmore Islay
The verdict: Peaty, grassy. “A lot like a nasty mouthful of grass. No literally.” Scratch peat-infused from the tasting.

Round 2: (we loved the first, 2 through 4 tied for last)

1. 1985 The Glenrothes
The verdict: Ends with a butterscotch finish, what’s not to love? “A good Tuesday night bottle for home.”
2. Glenmorangie Port Wood Finish

The verdict: Unimpressive. “Why didn’t she pour Glenmoranjie Nector d’Or?”
3. Aberlour A’bunadh Single Speyside Malt Scotch Whiskey
The verdict: Love the spicy port nose. “This hurts so good.”
4. 16 Year Tomintoul

The verdict: Caramel, sweet. “Not memorable.”

Round 3: (Bring more food, we’re going all night!)

1. Suntory Hibiki 12 Year
The verdict: Cherry picking, fruit falls off the tree, and there’s a bow at the end of the sip.
2. Glengoyne 17-Year-Old Single Highland Malt

The verdict: Holy 5-minute experience! Sweet, then oak, then planks of wood, evolving into a burning cloud. “It tempts you with sweet then turns into a fireball. I feel molested in a ‘Kevin Bacon in The Woodsmen’ way.”
3. The Dalmore 12 Year

The verdict: Simple, eminently drinkable. “A luxury airline whisky.”
4. The Balvenie
17 Year
The verdict: solid B+, respectable. “It’s a great go-to scotch.”

Round 4: (How many more do we have?)

1. The Balvenie 21 Year
The verdict: A sweet, warm candy-coated stealth bomb. “It’s like your best friend and Christmas morning and a new puppy all at once.”
2. Glenmorangie 12 Year

The verdict: Sweet, but watered down. “A scotch wanna-be.”
3. Tullibardiine 12 Year

The verdict: Soft on the nose. “Feels like what you’d steal from your parents sideboard in junior high.”
4. Nikka Whisky G&G White Bottle

The verdict: Smoky, undrinkable. “Like jet fuel.” (Note: Our scotch-ier recommends the gold variety, which they didn’t have.)

Final Round:

WINNER: 1. 12-Year Suntory Yamazaki
Suntory’s been around for 100 years — why did we have to hear about it from Bill Murray?
2. 1985 The Glenrothes
Very old-school men’s club with a cigar and steak.
3. Suntory Hibiki 12 Year
Open late night for friends who like the good stuff.
4: The Balvenie 21 Year
“I could take a bath in this.” Hmmm…perhaps we’ve tried too many.

The Scotch and Bacon Slam Verdict: Bring on the 12-Year Suntory Yamazaki.

For serving your slam, we’re loving this simple everyday pair of insulated double-walled old-fashioneds. Did we mention they won the European IF Design award?