I have no shame admitting that I never knew about brands like The Singleton prior to trying Diageo’s Game of Thrones scotch collection at a friend’s house. Anyone who knows me knows where my whisky preferences lie, and the content I’ve produced says just as much. My preferences lean heavily towards dark, rich, and sweet pours, something bourbon is in high supply of. By comparison, most of the scotches I’ve tried tend to be light and delicate, or smoky and chemically. I very much prefer the latter, mainly because they seem to have more flavor and pose more of an honest challenge for my palate. That’s not to say I can’t enjoy a solid Highland or Speyside single malt, but given the choice, I’ll usually pick Islay.
So why are we even looking at The Singleton 12, an occasionally more budget-oriented offering from Speyside? Let’s just say I found a bottle marked down to $20, so about half its MSRP. Even if it isn’t to my liking, a 12-year single malt scotch is tough to argue with when the price is so agreeable. Time to see what $20 has gotten me into.
Nose: Slightly musty pear-like malt backbone typical of most Speyside scotches. Caramel and banana cream with orange-laced honey on thin-sliced toast. Apple juice, vanilla, and lightly toasty oak in the background. Bright, light, sweet, and promising.
Palate: Dried apple and honey. Some pear with a touch of vanilla. Mild to moderate oak tannins on the back gradually come out. Golden raisins and bitters.
Finish: Surprisingly lengthy oak note. Brief release of caramel and honey followed by toast.
Scotch has been a category of whisky I’d like to try more of, but prices are a huge inhibiting factor, thanks in no small part to the trade tariffs in place. As a result, most scotches up to $50 leave me thinking, “my money would’ve been better spent on a bourbon.” The Singleton 12 is yet another example of this. By no means is this a bad whisky, but it simply fails to impress and would leave a poor impression had I spent the more standard going rate.
All that being said, I realize scotch is a premium hobby for its more passionate fans. More everyday folks look at buying stuff like Glenlivet 12, Glenfiddich 12, Glenmorangie 10, and others with the occasional step up to a slightly older variant when the occasion calls for it. Stacked against those, it’s difficult to see where The Singleton 12 fits in, since the Glens are a bit richer, more comprehensive, and a touch less money on average. The discount I got my bottle for obviously softens the blow, but that’s not representative of what most people will pay for the same experience. Sometimes you truly realize the value of something only after doing a comparison, and in this case, The Singleton 12 comes up short.