What's a guy got to do to get some 20-year-old single-malt scotch in this town?

Phil wonders:

Know any Boston area bars that serve _good_ single malt scotch whisky? Something over 20 years old.




Rowes Wharf bar

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Rowes Wharf bar in the Boston Harbor Hotel has a *lot* of Scotch. They claim Boston's largest selection, and I would not want to challenge them on that.

Lots of choices

That big beer/pizza joint, Doyle's, in JP has a great Scotch list, including many old single malts. The Tip Tap Room on Beacon Hill has a good selection. Five Horses in Davis Square has quite a few too.

Another vote for Doyles

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Extensive scotch board with some real gems.

(nit pick - Not sure if I'd characterize it as a "big beer/pizza joint" (although taps and 'za are both good). It's a pretty canonical public house with the typical range of food and bev options for such (with actually a nice bump up in quality in the last couple years). Most of the customers are groups of families/friends breaking bread for sit-down meals.)

Been around forever and seen a lot of history. One of those places every Bostonian should visit at least once.

Ask in JP

When we moved to JP 24 years ago, everyone I asked, "Where do you eat?" and "Where do you drink?" with "Doyle's!" Our kids liked the bready, cheese-slathered pizza. Several waitresses said that yes, "Irish pizza," as they called it, was the big hit there.

My wife and I migrated to the bound Scotch menu and worked our way through most of it. Folk may associate the play with beer and not be aware of how many Scotches they carry. Pity.

Second the Tip Tap. Also great selection of microbourbons.

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And Rowe's Wharf Dark Bar is hands down the widest selection.

If you're buying larger quantity, Federal Wine & Spirits is the place to go. Ask for Joe Howell - he's made his own single malts and knows many of the master distillers.

Hand's down.

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Doyle's Cafe in JP.

Assuming you're not just buying it direct from Federal Wine and Spirits.


After tasting many Scotches, I settled on Lagavulin 16 Year Old. Recently at a dinner with 60 or so or the table (including Scotch-like malts - think Amrut) and quite a few of those 18, 20 or more years older. There's lots of good stuff, most of it beyond my choke point. I still love Lagavulin. Many say it smells and tastes of peat and iodine...suits me fine.

Absolutely true, however ...

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... older expressions are harder to find and generally have a higher cost of entry.

If you want to sample one (or more) of these without committing the cost of a full bottle, a bar with a good range is one way to go.

Another IMHO better way to go is to find out about and attend tastings. Federal and Julio's out Westborough way both do this frequently and a little online research (Boston Whisky Cruise, Loch & Key Whiskey Club) will turn up other opportunities to sample some very interesting Whiskies for far less outlay than a night out on the high end of a Bar's single malt list.

Speaking of which ...

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...pretty sure Federal's tasting next Thursday is, in fact, single malts. As said above, it's a fine way to find what you like, hear what others think, and point your outlay towards bottles you'll enjoy ...


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Yes, Federal's tasting on June 6th will be a new-to-USA independent bottler of Single Cask Single Malt Scotch.
(I'll be there, i'll be the guy with the peculiar glass.)

From the weekly wine tasting email -

Next Thursday June 6th.

Single Malt Scotch Tasting

4:30 P.M. or 6:00 P.M

Ed Kohl with Exclusive Malts of Scotland

Joe writes,
Ed Kohl is with Impex Beverages fairly new importer / distributor that is building a portfolio of very good single malts. Ed has been in the industry for years, and has been specializing with Scotch Whisky for quite some time and will take us through their new line of Exclusive Malts single cask range. The tastings will start at 4:30 & 6:00 and will run for 45 to 55 minutes. Please try to be prompt for the start.
This is a wonderful range of single cask - single malts that you do not want to miss.

Federal Wine & Spirits 29 State St. Boston MA 02109

ask for Joe

Agreed 100%

One of my father's vices is Ardbeg. I personally don't care for it, but the reasons for that have nothing to do with its youth (the core offering is only aged for 10 years).

I have to confess, I'm reluctant to help Phil out. I can think of a couple of bars and restaurants that haven't been mentioned that have some nice whisky on offer, and I'm not sure I want to go to them if they're full of (wannabe) whisky snobs.

"Oh, don't ask why"

Some good whiskey / whisky bars in Boston: Citizen Public House, Hops N Scotch, Saloon, Marliave (a few very fancy bottles from the brief period when it was trying to be a very fancy restaurant), Rowes Wharf Bar, The Last Hurrah, Sweet Cheeks Q.

Most of the swish steakhouses ought to have a decent selection, too.

Whiskey Priest

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...in the Seaport next to Fish Pier. Over a hundred choices.