Being the distiller behind two of the world's great whiskies and someone who gets paid to taste whisky for a living, you would think Dr. Bill Lumsden's favorite single malt would be something crazy - Brora 30, an old 1970's Ardbeg cask, or something he tasted in the GlenMo cellar. It's not. Dr. Bill really likes drinking Glenmorangie 10, a basic, $35-a-bottle single malt that just hits the mark for him. Sure, it might have something to do with the fact that he made it, but most people find it ironic that a bonafide whisky expert prefers to quaff more pedestrian malts.
But that's always the way it is, isn't it?
Guess what - Dr. Seuss wrote kids books, but he hated kids. Doctors are some of the least healthy people. Fashion designers make amazing clothes, but are often hideously dressed. Interior designers have boring homes. All of my friends whose parents are psychologists are the most troubled! Irony is everywhere, and the whisky world is no different sometimes.
Someone asked me yesterday if the oldest malts were always better. In my opinion, they're often not as good as the younger ones. I'll take Springbank 10 over the 18 any day. Give me 5 year old Kilchoman over Laphroaig 18.
I had a customer ask today why Talisker 25 at $200 is so inexpensive compared to other similarly aged malts, like say Macallan 25 at $600. I said, "Because that's the way good whisky usually works." The expensive ones rarely live up to the satisfaction the value-priced ones. I still really love drinking Glendronach 12, more so than the pricier bottles in my bar.
As for me - I break a whole slew of whisky geekdom rules. Personally, I don't really love cask strength bottlings. That's just me. The point is - don't take anything for granted when broadening your whisky horizons and don't feel like the obvious answer is the right one. In life, in whisky, there are things that maybe should be the case, but are not necessarily so.