There are few things more civilized than a single malt scotch and few things less civilized than butchering a foreign tongue. Blurting out whatever Americanized rendition we want of otherwise high class terms has become a way of life we’d like to put an end to, and we’ll be starting with scotch.
Now Gaelic isn’t the easiest of languages to wrap your tongue around, but it’s not so foreign that we’re unfamiliar with the sounds. We’re just not familiar with how those sounds are spelled. “Ich” most commonly turns to “ee”; a’s and s’s are dropped. With this brief pronunciation guide to some of Scotland’s best scotches you’ll no longer look like a buffoon blundering through a bloated list, even if everyone else thinks you’re crazy for pronouncing “aine” as “yuh.”
Bottle: Bruichladdich Peat. Region: Islay, and while we’re in the business of pronouncing things properly, it’s EYE-la; the s is a non-factor. Color: Young, golden, almost straw in tone. It has the look of a young whisky, which defies its taste. Palate: Touted by connoisseurs as an intro to peat, Bruichladdich’s Peat starts light, almost fruity, and ends strong, a smoky, salty finish common to the Islay region. Price: $58.
Bottle: 12 Year. Region: Highlands. Color: Though a tad darker than the aforementioned Bruichladdich, the Glen Garioch’s color is spot on for its younger taste. Palate: A whisky for those who shy away from overwhelming peat or smoke, what some might call bite, the Glen Garioch 12 Year is true to its Highland roots. It is light and smooth with noticeable hints of apple, pear and vanilla that it borrows from a bourbon tradition. It’s aged in sherry casks, lending to its fruity and spicy flavors and its dry oak finish. Price: $58.
Bottle: 10 Year. Region: Highlands. Color: Honey. Palate: Glenmorangie, the ultimate entry whisky and as such the most commonly mispronounced. Another staple from the Highlands, Glenmorangie is neither too overpowering or lingering; it’s light, with splashes of honey, oak and sweet grass that are more muted in taste than aroma. Its finish is (relatively) short and sweet. Price: $62.