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We're not Irish enough to know if it's total sacrilege to drink scotch for St. Patrick's day festivities, but we've had the good fortune of being awash in the stuff recently here at CH HQ. Scotch has been gaining a wider audience these days among a younger crowds as more and more are learning to appreciate the subtle complexities that differentiate one brand from another. The scotches we've been lucky enough to sample here really run the gamut in flavor profiles, from sweet and light to extremely smoky and intense.

Glenlivet Nadurra 16
Classic scotch brand Glenlivet was kind enough to drop buy our offices for a desk-side tasting. Brand Ambassador Richard Crawford schooled us all on the science behind the drink and led us on a tasting through four of Glenlivet's distinct scotches. All are excellent, with strong fruit and floral notes, but our favorite was the Nadurra 16. Cask-strength and without chill filtration, Nadurra (Gaelic for “natural”) captures the essence of drinking from the cask: a sweet, but spicy nose that goes down surprisingly well considering how strong it is. You can read more at the Glenlivet website.

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Balblair 1989 Vintage Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
By far the sweetest and mellowest of what we've tasted recently, our bottle of Balblair arrived unannounced in the CH offices and quickly disappeared. Balblair 1989 has a very light color for scotch and an extremely light, vanilla flavor that went down incredibly smooth. Difficult to find locally, we highly recommend you hunt some down at Balblair. This is a great scotch to introduce to someone who thinks they are scotch-averse.

Ardbeg Ten Years Old Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
Islay scotches are known for their peaty flavor, making them the most challenging for the uninitiated. Ardbeg is one of the more intense Islay scotches we've tasted, has been making some waves recently (being named World Whicky for the Year for 2008 and 2009) and is gaining popularity here in NYC. The spicy smokiness took us a minute to get used to; once hooked however, you'll find yourself craving that smoke and going back for more. For the milder among us, we recommend enjoying Ardbeg with a solitary ice cube to help bring out the aromas and open up the flavor profile. Find out more at Ardbeg.

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Whichever way you go, you can't go wrong with any of the brands above. And we can't think of any better way than to wait out the last throes of winter than with a nice tumbler of scotch.

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