What are some must-try whiskeys? Why?

More than two year later, after having consumed far more whisk(e)y, and being far more knowledgable, I have decided to update this with a somewhat more comprehensive answer. I'll leave my original answer below, but consider it outdated.

For american whiskey, the important ones that I believe are worth trying are:

  • Buffalo Trace and related whiskeys. Buffalo trace is known for having a great product at an affordable price, and the distillery also owns and produces many fantastic whiskies including Pappy Van Winkle. It's worth trying the Pappy if you can find some for a reasonable price, but keep an eye out for Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg as well.
  • Elijah Craig, a sweeter style of bourbon also at an affordable price, especially for a twelve year old bourbon. I get a bit of tropical fruit on the nose which leads into spiced, cooked fruit and creme brulee, with the fruit and spice lingering to the finish along with some cereal notes.
  • Four Roses makes a decidedly more floral, drier style of bourbon than the previously mentioned ones and is also an excellent value. They also release small batch and single barrel expressions as well which are pricier but worth the splurge every once in a while.
  • Moving on to rye whisky, I'd have to say Rittenhouse Rye is a must. Being a bonded whiskey, it's at a hefty 100 proof, but drinks remarkably well. It's great for sipping neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails.
  • Old Overholt, despite being a "well" rye, is also fantastic. It lacks some complexity of some of the "better" ryes out there but for the price, it can't be beat and outclasses other whisky at a similar price point.
  • Lastly, Angel's Envy has been putting out some fantastic bourbon and rye. This bourbon undergoes a second aging in casks used to previously age port, while the rye undergoes the same process in Caribbean rum casks. The finishing process adds a layer of complexity and flavor that you normally don't get in most whiskeys. They are a little on the pricey side ($50-80), but definitely worth trying. Angel's Envy is a bit of a young gun compared to these other brands but its late founder, Lincoln Henderson, was a legend in the bourbon world.

The above selection should be a pretty good start to getting familiar with American whiskey. Some other whiskies worth mentioning are Evan Williams, Woodford Reserve, and Blantons. There are plenty more good whiskeys out there, however there are just too many to name here!

Now! Let's go back to Scotch. I'll go with the format of my original answer and give break it down by region, but I'll give a little more description into each region and its whiskies this time.

Lowlands: There are not many distilleries in the lowlands, but the ones that are there tend to produce a style that is somewhat more lighter in style than other scotches. Auchentoshan in particular is notable for being triple distilled like many Irish whiskeys and comes in a number of varieties. The three wood is additionally notable for being aged in three types of barrels. In addition, the Glenkinchie malt is probably worth checking out from this region.

Highlands/Speyside: By far the most number of distilleries is located in this region. Speyside is a sub-region of the Highlands that the river Spey runs through and has the highest concentration of distilleries. Notable Highland/Speyside malts include:

  • Macallan: The "original" Macallan line is aged exclusively in sherry casks and has been a favorite amongst both casual and professional whisky enthusiasts. Macallan also produces a "Fine Oak" line that is aged in both sherry casks and used bourbon barrels. It's ubiquitous in bars and archetypical of what a Speyside malt should be like.
  • Glenmorangie produces a 10 year old malt aged in used bourbon barrels. While I find the original expression good, but somewhat uninteresting, the distillery is quite big in to experimenting with different finishes, aging the base spirit in a variety of different casks for two additional years. The Nectar d'Or is notable for having the whisky finished in casks previously used to age Sauternes, a dessert wine from France.
  • Glenfarclas on the other end, makes whisky with an extremely pronounced sherry characteristic. If you enjoy sherry-cask aged whisky, this is a great one to try.

Other whiskies from this region that are worth checking out include the Balvenie Double Wood, Glendronach 15 year old "Revival", and Glenrothes Select Reserve.

Finally, we get to the coastal/island Scotch whiskies. These are notable for their use of peat when drying the barley malt during the scotch production process. Not all island whiskies are peated and not all mainland whiskies are unpeated however, so keep that in mind.

  • From Orkney located off the tip in the northernmost part of Scotland, we have Highland Park, which is peated, but not heavily to give it a smokey flavor that is not too overpowering. The whisky is consistently rated as the top amongst professionals and for good reason. It's extremely well balanced and a great example of what scotch whisky can achieve when all the flavors work harmoniously together. It is also one of the malts used in the Famous Grouse blend.
  • Oban and Springbank are both whiskies located along the coast of Scotland are good introductions to peated whiskies. They have a far lower level of peat in the product, giving just slight hints of smokiness.
  • Talisker, located on the Isle of Skye has a similar peat level to Highland Park and is also a great example of a balanced, peated whisky.

There is one island in Scotland that is famous for its heavily peated, smokey whiskies, which is Islay, and large number of distilleries are located on it.

  • The most famous Islay scotch is arguably Laphroaig, which is probably one of the most heavily peated whiskies in its regular expression. The only other regularly available scotch that reaches similar peat levels is the Ardbeg, also on Islay.
  • Another popular, but extremely good scotch from Islay is the Lagavulin. Slightly less peat than the Laphroaig, it is the other established Islay scotch whisky. While the Laphroaig is decidedly more smokey, the Lagavulin has a bit more of medicinal notes to it and is also a consistent favorite amongst critics.

There's so many more out there that I could recommend such as the unique Bruichladdich line, which does an unpeated Islay malt, as well as the Caol Ila which has a good medium-high level of peat.

And of course, I haven't even gotten into international malts like Yamazaki from Japan, and Amrut from India. I suppose I'll have to revisit this answer sometime in the future.


Original answer:

The Macallan should be one of the first single malts someone should try if they are inexperienced in scotch, in my opinion. The Laphroaig, Arbeg, Caol Ila, and Lagavulin are great examples of smokier, peatier scotches, while something like the Yamazaki or Balvenie Doublewood are less pronounced in smoke flavors, and tend to exhibit more oak and maltier characteristics. The Glenrothes is a personal favorite as well. Depending on your preferences, any of these could be a favorite.

I guess I should elaborate a bit more, since my whisky knowledge has gone up since writing this original answer. It's good to try examples of whiskies from all regions so you get a representative taste.

Lowlands: Auchentoshan
Highlands: Glenmorangie
Speyside: Macallen, Glenrothes
Campbeltown: Springbank
Islay: Lagavulin, Laphroaig

I'd say these give a solid overview of the different styles of scotch and are common enough that you'll usually be able to consistently order them at any place with a semi-decent scotch selection.

Is white tea any better for you than green tea?

Beauty Benefits of White Tea

White tea may not be as popular as green tea and some other tea flavors but it certainly has inherited most, if not all of the tea health benefits every enthusiast enjoy. Most people might have not known that there's this magic-like benefit one could get by drinking every cup – that it helps keep one feeling young and youthful, plus the bonus of fighting off inflammatory and chronic diseases.

Anti-aging Benefits of White Tea

White tea contains very high amounts of antioxidants and very good anti-aging potentials. White tea helps retain and protect the body's protein components: collagen and elastin.

Both proteins support the body's natural elasticity, and also help the lungs, arteries, ligaments and the skin to function properly. White tea prevents toxins and enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, therefore keeping the skin free from wrinkles, darkness, blemishes and dark spots.

White tea also helps keep hair healthy and strong. It helps prevent the formation of split ends, improves hair quality, making it look sleeker and moisturized.

Other White Tea Benefits

Researchers from South West London have been astounded by the effectiveness of white tea in warding off inflammations and chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers. By using just significantly small amounts of white tea, positive responses have already emerged.

White tea also contains high levels of catechins that are believed to help prevent stroke, diabetes and heart failure.

White tea might be new to your palate but this is definitely a fine drink for a good, youthful health.

What are the good and bad health effects of coffee?

I'll comment on coffee and the heart.

I've written about this in detail in the following link Benefits of Coffee : Getting To The Heart Of The Matter.

The following facts are worth highlighting. Coffee is often associated with the development of high blood pressure however studies have shown that in those that regularly drink coffee there is no association with high blood pressure, even in those drinking up to 6 cups a day. Several studies have found an association between coffee drinking and decreased incidence of diabetes. Moderate coffee consumption may be associated with a small decrease in the risk of stroke, although the studies examining that are by no means definitive. Well designed studies have demonstrated that coffee consumption is not associated with the development of arrhythmias. Several studies demonstrate a link between moderate coffee consumption and decreased risk of coronary heart disease. Well designed studies that followed participants for at least several years and recorded coffee habits demonstrate that regular coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease, and a lower risk of dying from heart disease.

No study is perfect, and results of studies should always be interpreted with a degree of caution, but reassuringly, numerous well-designed studies have shown that coffee confers no significant risk of heart disease, and that in fact it may even be protective. Most of these studies looked at coffee drunk in moderation (2-4 cups) and it would appear reasonable to recommend moderate coffee consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle.

How do different brands of high-end vodka compare in terms of flavor/quality?

It's funny, the top-ranked vodkas always end up being a total surprise. In blind taste tests, people constantly pick Smirnoff as the best:


What is prized in a vodka is actually flavorlessness, which is pretty much the opposite of all other high-end spirits. For this reason, filtered vodkas are typically the highest rated (as opposed to the ones with fancy bottles which actually have flavor). You might get off fooling the best with a Brita filter:


Why do people like alcohol?

Alcohol has been a part of communal life for millennium, and has an important place in social, spiritual, and emotional experience. You may drink for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • To relax after a hard day
  • To join friends in socializing
  • Because you like the taste
  • Because it’s an important part of your culture

As with most things we do in life, there are other motivations beneath the surface that shape what we do. Perhaps you drink because:

  • Drinking feels like a central way of being close to certain people
  • Alcohol has always been part of how you've managed
  • You feel too bad (lonely, sad, angry, etc.) without drinking
  • You've tried to stop, but you can’t

There are important reasons why you drink, moderately or otherwise. Notably, for heavy alcohol or drug use, there are likely important psychological reasons why you use, to address underlying struggles that others who use may also struggle with. Heavy drinking and/or drug use is often an attempt to help yourself with: problems in relationships; difficulty with self-esteem; challenges in taking good enough care of yourself; and difficulty managing strong emotional states. If you drink or use heavily, you may well have started using to fight other problems, but your alcohol or drug use itself may have become a problem of its own.
What is of real concern is when your drinking begins to lead to unwanted consequences. Obviously, you drink because there are things you like about it, or that may have been adaptive for you. But there may also be unwanted consequences that come along with your drinking. Harm is not equivalent to the amount you drink; harm can be caused with lesser amounts, depending on your circumstances. Consider the categories of drinking: Overdrinking, Risky Drinking, Harmful Drinking and Dependent Drinking. Each category describes patterns of drinking that may be worthy of concern.
There are long-term health consequences for heavy drinking. Heavy drinking increases the risks of….

  • liver disease
  • heart disease
  • sleep disorders
  • depression
  • stroke
  • bleeding from the stomach
  • sexually transmitted infections from unsafe sex
  • several types of cancer
  • may have problems managing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions

By drinking above recommended limits the average person will sustain unwanted health and social costs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking as an average of no more than 1 drink per day (7 per week) for women and 2 drinks per day (14 per week) for men. (Insert graphic) While those thresholds may sound like very small amounts, empirical research data shows that above these levels, risk rates begin to climb. This is not to say that drinking in excess of this is necessarily a problem, but simply that statistically it does put you at higher risk for medical, relationship and emotional costs related to drinking.
Risky Drinking
Certain patterns or situations in which you drink may put you at significant risk. Aside from long-term consequences that might develop, there may be more immediate costs you face. Risky drinking includes the following:

  • Drinking alcohol when you have had problems with alcohol use in the past
  • Drinking while driving, riding a bicycle or engaging in potentially dangerous work
  • Binge drinking – typically defined as reaching a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above, generally equivalent to a male drinking 5 or more drinks or a female consuming 4 or more drinks within a two-hour period.
  • Speed drinking – a form of binge drinking, speed drinking involves drinking rapidly and competitively and leads to consumption of large amounts of alcohol in short time periods, often with a sudden onset of intoxication well beyond what was expected
  • Drinking when you have a health condition that is worsened by alcohol use (such as a peptic ulcer, hepatitis, clinical depression or anxiety)

Harmful Drinking
Aside from assessing how much you drink, or considering risky situations in which you drink, ask yourself whether alcohol may be causing problems for you and/or the people around you. Harmful drinking is the continued use despite negative consequences, including problems related to alcohol in relationships, work, school, finances, your mood and your health. Perhaps someone has expressed concern to you about your drinking. Maybe you drive buzzed. You may spend mornings recovering from a hangover. Stats on negative outcomes associated with drinking:

  • Alcohol is a factor in about 60% of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides;
  • 50% of sexual assaults and severe trauma injuries involve alcohol; and
  • 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls involve alcohol.

Dependent Drinking
Even people who are alcohol dependent may function quite well in their life, with their dependence on alcohol hidden from view. Some high functioning professionals are alcohol-dependent, but no one would suspect it, because they may not fit narrow stereotypes for the chaotic alcoholic often depicted in the media. While dependent drinking may include physiological dependence and high tolerance, it more generally refers to alcohol increasingly taking over your life, with more money and time spent on alcohol use, as well as recovery from it. You may drink every night before falling asleep. You rely on alcohol as part of socializing. You may have had a DUI. You may have lost relationships because of your drinking.

Can you taste if water has been reboiled?


I have not performed a double-blind experiment, but I do have a reference. From the Royal Society of Chemistry on the preparation of tea [1]:

"Use freshly drawn water that has not previously been boiled. Previously boiled water will have lost some of its dissolved oxygen which is important to bring out the tea flavour."

[1] http://www.rsc.org/pdf/pressoffi…

Is tea a diuretic?

Caffeine is considered a diuretic, so any caffeinated tea should also be.

That said, there have been recent studies suggesting that caffeine is not as strong of a diuretic as previously thought.

What is the best recipe for an in-home smoothie?

I love Bananas and Walnuts, personally, and to keep the ingredients to a minimum. Here is one easy filling smoothie that anyone over age 7 can whip up, sometimes with a little supervision.

Easy Five Ingredient Banana Walnut Smoothie

(Makes two tall glasses)
1. Bananas – 3 medium sized
2. Walnuts – 2/3 Cup and a handful to garnish
3. Yogurt – 1 1/2 Cup
4. Milk – Just enough for consistency
5. Honey – To taste (I’ve used 1 spoon)
5 mins.
1. Peel the bananas, chop roughly and add in a blender. The bananas I’ve used here were a little overripe.

2. Throw the walnuts on top. You can also roast the walnuts slightly to enhance flavour.

3. Add yogurt. Low fat yogurt also works wonderfully in smoothies

4. Add just enough milk to give the smoothie a nice consistency when mixed. You want to be able to drink it up but it should still be thick. Do not add a lot of milk from the word go. Add a bit, blitz it, adjust and add more if required.

5. And finally, add honey to taste. This is the trickiest part of the combination as you’ve to adjust for the sweetness of the bananas which is always unpredictable. You may also substitute honey with sugar substitutes. Personally, I feel honey brings out the flavour in this and suggest reducing the quantity if required but using it nonetheless.

6. Whip it all together and your delicious smoothie is ready! Garnish with walnuts and enjoy!

This smoothie is rich in anti oxidants and does a wonderful job of keeping you full till lunch. Try for a refreshing, quick meal  on the go.