Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A $20 Single Malt, Really?

On a recent trip to the store I noticed a bottle of Tamdhu 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky for $19. Can a decent bottle of single malt be had for under $20? I had to find out.

What is it?

Tamdhu is a distillery located in the Speyside region of Scotland and its product is primarily used as a blending malt in the Famous Grouse, J&B and several other blends. The distillery produces over a million gallons of distillate a year, which is likely a chief reason for the low price.

How is it?

To my suprise this doesn't taste like vodka that has been passed through a slice of bread. Instead, Tamdhu 10 smells slightly of orange and barley. You really have to breath deep to get to the bottom of it. It is clean and doesn't smell of raw spirit like some other young whiskys. Cut with a little water you can begin to sense some peat on the nose, but it resides mostly in the background.

The taste is somewhat lacking in complexity. It doesn't taste bad and in fact is so inoffensive it comes off a little bland. There is a nice clean hint of butterscotch flavor, which is very nice.  The mouth feel is rather exceptional, with a slight oiliness that warmly coats the tongue.

The finish is sweet with a touch of Speyside chocolate and honey, but it is short and dissipates rather quickly.


This is by no means a bad bottle of scotch.  It is not great either. If you are having some friends over and plan to put away the better part of a bottle, this will certainly do. If you want to contemplate a glass for a half hour and find the deep nuanced flavors and aromas this is not the one. That is just my opinion, check out the New York Times review. Really, for $20 you can't beat this in the single malt category.

I give it a 9/6 value to quality rating.

Press Your Own Coffee

Unfortunately for Starbucks, the first place people started pinching pennies when the economy went south was the $6.00 latte. If you can't put up with the Maxwell House at the office. Get thyself a small french press.


Bodum makes this great 16 oz travel size french press. You can get one on amazon for as little as $10. All you need is hot water and some ground coffee. I recommend a good medium to dark blend, and make sure you get large grounds for the french press. In fact, if you have not used a french press before, make sure you read the instructions first.

The fun part of using the press comes from trying different types of coffee. You will really notice the different flavor profiles when you start using a french press and stop adding a ton of flavor syrups to your coffee.


You have to clean it out after each use, and you may end up drinking a couple of grounds of coffee that slip past the filter. Also, if you don't have a hot water spout on the water cooler at work and don't make your coffee at home in the morning, this might not be the product for you.

It's Worth It

You will hardly even miss your Carmel Mocha Latte. Save the sugar and fat for a good desert or a donut. Some good coffee brewed within a week of being ground will kick the crap out of what ever they are serving at work.

I give it a 8/8 value to quality rating, but that all goes out the window if you use crappy coffee.

Introduction to Budget Hedonism

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a man of great means. I do, however, enjoy the things that great means often provide. This puts me at a slight disadvantage. Unfortunately, this is a disadvantage that many people today are facing. How can one enjoy the worlds greatest culinary pleasures on a limited income?

My challenge over the coming months, is to provide reviews and insights into some of life's great consumable pleasures, which also happen to be affordable. Great beer, wine, food and spirits are closer to your reach than you may think.

One of the great obstacles here is overcoming the variety of opinions on what is affordable. One person's entry level $40 bottle of scotch is another man's premiere extravagance. I will try to focus on the principal of value as compared to quality and let you decide what is ultimately within your budget. Each post, excluding recipes, will contain a value/quality ratio at the bottom of the page, with a 10/10 rating signifying the greatest value to quality ratio and 1/1 the lowest.

Finally, I do not claim or believe that consumable goods are a replacement for the great loves and friendships that life provides, but they certainly add to the joy of being alive. I look forward to your comments and criticisms.


The Budget Hedonist