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Old 02-22-2011, 06:05 PM
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Default Visiting Scotland: Want Good, Hard-To-Find Whisky

Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forum and this is my first post.

I am visiting Scotland (from the USA) and am excited to taste some new whiskys and bring some home. To that end I have a few questions that I hope you can help me with.

To begin, I'll let you know a bit about my preferences. I love Islay whiskys, particularly Lagavulin, Caol Ila, and Laphroaig (Laphroaig is my favorite whisky for value. It's relatively inexpensive and very good for my taste. This is one I always have a bottle of at home.) I also like Talisker and have recently come to love The Glenrothes malts. Highland Park is great. I am not enamored with The Macallan or Glenfiddich as much as the others.

I am looking for some great whiskys that don't make it out of Scotland (or the UK, or Europe). I am interested in trying something new and different and I'd like to be able to bring something home for my friends that we can't get in the USA. Any recommendations?

Also, if you have any tips on getting a few cases home, I'd appreciate that as well.

Thanks, everyone. I look forward to reading your responses.

Dan
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:25 PM
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It definitely appears you are a fan of the island whiskies and what you will discover over in Scotland is that there are so many different expressions/age distinctions of all of your favorite whiskies. For example when going to the distilleries or even a whisky shop there could be anywhere from 5-10 different expressions for any whisky that you may be looking for. I asked a friend of mine who is also a Master of Whisky and he said that on his last trip to Scotland (last fall), he was able to sample 9 different marques of Lagavulin - so there are so many more whiskies that donít make it here to the USA. Also here are some different suggestions for you which are his favorites:

Royal Lochnagar, Blair Atholl, Linkwood, Glen Elgin, Benrinnes, Mortlach, Dufftown and Glen Ord.

Hope this helps!
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:29 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions! I appreciate it.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:43 PM
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You're welcome! And as far as what you can legally bring back with you - it's 3 litres per person. As far as shipping goes, I have heard from several that there are shipping stores over in Scotland that sell styrofoam type containers to ship bottles back. Basically, you just ship back to yourself (but know your state's laws on shipping alcohol ) I do know that the distilleries and even the whisky shops will not ship. Good luck and please keep us posted!
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:23 PM
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As you like Islays and hire a car I would suggest that you spend a couple of days there and go by ferry from Kennacraig then you could visit the Loch Fyne whisky shop
http://www.lfw.co.uk/
or if you're in Speyside visit Gordon and MacPhails shop in Elgin
http://www.gordonandmacphail.com/
Both have excellent stocks of rare whiskies
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:18 PM
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Look for places to taste stuff and if you really like it buy a bottle or take notes and look for it in a shop. If it is a single cask be sure to get all the details on the label you can. While almost all of the distilleries are importing things to the US, there are always specific bottlings for local markets. And distilleries often have distillery only bottlings. I suspect most of the independent single cask bottlings are local markets only as well, so you could look for those. Note Cadenheads no longer makes it to the US, but they have a lot of good stuff and usually you can taste in their shops if you can find one. If you can make it to a good whisky shop that would be the best place to get something in line with your tastes and also get reasonable information on whether it is available in the states (although more often and not they may not know). Two personal Islay favorites of mine that didn't make it to the US are Ardbeg Almost There and Renaissance. Those were limited editions but you might find one around at a still reasonable price (I noted in a recent trip to London that all the "uncommon" Ardbegs are going up significnatly in price). And since you like Laphroaig, there is a "Triple Wood" out that I believe is for duty-free only. I have a bottle but have not tried it so I cannot comment. There are also some Highland Park duty free only bottlings, but I don't know the details.

As for bringing it back, the way I understand it is that there really is no limit as far as the federal government is concerned. You are allowed 1 liter duty free, and anything above that is supposed to be declared. I think it is around $3-4 per liter extra. But the problem here is that the laws of the state in which you enter the US override the federal laws. In Georgia, for example, the maximum you can bring in appears to be one gallon, and the first half gallon is supposed to be duty free. I think the next half is relatively cheap, like for federal. But it took me a while to find this out, and the TSA people at the airport seemed pretty clueless about it, so I suspect that you could be subject to the whims of whatever customs officer happens to be working in whatever city you land. I've heard customs officers say they bring in 2 liters and don't worry about it, so who knows.

Shipping from a shop or distillery to your US address is technically not "legal". There is probably a proper way to do it through an importer, but who knows what that would cost and how long it would sit in customs. There are on occasion shops in the UK who will ship to the US, but you assume all the risk. Apparently from what I have heard the odds are pretty good your stuff will come through. And you can always try shipping to yourself. I'm not sure what the regulations are for that.
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:42 AM
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I am also planning a trip to Scotland.... Thanks to all of you that replied. I am planning to go late fall this year.

When are you going Dan?
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:10 AM
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Default Visiting Scotland: Want good, hard-to-find whisky

Note to HEWINS:

Please contact me at bkblankenship@scotchwhiskyglass.com as I can help you immensely in this arena with shops, distilleries, key people contacts in distilleries, popular and well stocked scotch bars, indigenous bottlings to distilleries, duties and how to pack, etc, etc. You can also call me if you like. Just go to my website for phone numbers.

BLENDERM mentioned car rental. I can assure you that renting a car is a MUST when going to Scotland. You will need the independence of your own transportation.

Kenneth
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:58 PM
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Great idea to rent a car; even better to have someone drive for you so as to obtain the full pleasure from tasting at distilleries. Islay is a three-day tasting venture because the hours, generally beginning at 10 a.m. (Lagavulin is powerful that early in the day!) and last tasting at about 3 p.m. It is difficult to do all distilleries even in three days.

Because of the taxes in UK, the only whisky I bring back to the states is a version sold at a distillery that is a special edition and likely is not sold at retail outlets. I am not certain of the tax situation on bringing back duty-free whisky, but in recent years the bottles sold in duty-free shops at the airport seem to be only a few dollars below market in Atlanta. I have made some 20 trips to Scotland, but ceased bring whisky because it seems not worth the trouble unless the bottle is indeed special.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:52 PM
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Renting your own car is a great tip but make sure you know how to drive a manual transmission. Automatic transmission rental cars are hard to come by (and far more expensive, better to save that money for the premium/precious tours). I'd also recommend a larger engine as the smaller compacts vehicles don't fare as well on that terrain. (we drove from Edinburgh to the Speyside region and had trouble)

As for shipping alcohol, the state laws generally only cover the sale of liqour across state lines. If you buy it and then ship it to yourself, you should be safe. As is the case with anything you read about laws online, double check it.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:53 PM
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Default Visiting Scotland: Want good, hard-to-find whisky

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cragganmac View Post
Great idea to rent a car; even better to have someone drive for you so as to obtain the full pleasure from tasting at distilleries. Islay is a three-day tasting venture because the hours, generally beginning at 10 a.m. (Lagavulin is powerful that early in the day!) and last tasting at about 3 p.m. It is difficult to do all distilleries even in three days.

Because of the taxes in UK, the only whisky I bring back to the states is a version sold at a distillery that is a special edition and likely is not sold at retail outlets. I am not certain of the tax situation on bringing back duty-free whisky, but in recent years the bottles sold in duty-free shops at the airport seem to be only a few dollars below market in Atlanta. I have made some 20 trips to Scotland, but ceased bring whisky because it seems not worth the trouble unless the bottle is indeed special.

I NEVER bring back whiskies that can be purchased in the USA. A person would be daff to do so. I only bring back expressions that cannot be had here. Many expressions are for duty free only and cannot be purchased on the UK economy nor at the distilleries. Also, distilleries have indigenous bottlings. Additionally, there are also bottlings that can only be purchased in the UK and / or Europe but not offered elswhere. If a person is going to bring back an expression that can be purchased in the USA, then they just don't get it.
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Old 03-03-2011, 04:51 PM
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Thanks for all of your help, folks.

I will be starting in Edinburgh, going through Aberdeen and circling around to Glasgow over the course of 8 days.
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Old 03-10-2011, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hewins View Post
Thanks for all of your help, folks.

I will be starting in Edinburgh, going through Aberdeen and circling around to Glasgow over the course of 8 days.
If you are going to Edinburgh, search out a restaurant called 'The Vitner Rooms (http://www.vintnersrooms.com/), as it is a fantastic restaurant which also offers over 1300 different single malts by the glass, dating back as far as a Highland Park 1902! The food is superb and the whisky is astonishing, and there is a huge menu for the Malts, listed by distillery.
Make sure you take plenty of ££'s, as it usually ends up expensive if you love your Scotch!
Also, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is directly above it, but unfortunately it is members only, and I live too far away to be able to arrange to meet you and sign you in as a guest.
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:36 PM
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I'm back and had a great trip. Thanks to all who posted responses to my questions.
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:42 AM
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Please share details!!!

What were the highlights?

What distilleries did you visit?

Did you go to any Castles?

What recommendations do you have for someone going later this year? (ME)
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:20 PM
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