The 1980’s Heavy Metal Guide to Single Malt Whisky

Hair metal

Michael Jackson once compared a particular single malt to a car (e.g. “the Rolls-Royce of whisky”).  Others have since compared certain single malts to particular Grand Cru wines.   More recently, people have started writing tasting notes for whiskies and suggested various songs or bands to match and pair with the whisky.  So, whisky and music is now a thing, right?  Okay then, let’s take it one step further…

No one likes to admit it, but there was once a time when heavy metal was actually commercially successful, and major record labels were falling over themselves trying to sign up hard rock acts.  The genre is lampooned today, and often labelled dismissively as hair metal.  But, like me, you might be from that era when heavy metal was actually on top of all the charts and hair metal bands ruled the airwaves.   But has anyone ever compared single malt to heavy metal artists?  Perhaps now is the time.  Get out the hair gel, put on your spandex, and take yourself back to the 1980’s.  Here are my comparisons…

Lagavulin – Definitely Bon Jovi.  Big, loud, & boisterous in their day, they’ve both mellowed a little recently and re-shaped themselves in the form of adult-orientated entertainment.

Port Ellen – Lots of options here, but I’m sticking with Randy Rhoads.  They’re both talented.  And enigmatic.  And dead.

Loch DhuKix.  A true one-hit wonder.  Most people haven’t tasted the whisky (which is actually a blessing), and I bet most people don’t remember Kix’s one release in 1989 either?

Macallan – Has to be Mötley Crüe.  Because everyone says, “I used to like them back when they were good”.  Ouch.
(Of course, on the other side of the coin, at least everyone can afford a Mötley Crüe album that’s 30 years old!)

MackmyraEurope.  Who else?  (And if you don’t get this, do some googling).

Ardbeg – This one’s easy:  Alice Cooper. Used to shock people in the 1970’s, disappeared into obscurity in the 1980’s, made a big comeback in the 1990’s, and today is going stronger than ever.  Also, you can’t ignore both have tremendous talent and a great sense of humour! And if Ardbeg could play a sport, I reckon it would be golf, too.

CardhuPure Metal.  Yeah.  That’s right.  I went there.

Auchroisk Ugly Kid Joe.  Seriously, have you seen the distillery?

BroraGuns’n’Roses.  Because everyone would love to see the original line-up come out of retirement.

Laphroaig 15yo – Strictly speaking, ACDC doesn’t qualify as a 1980’s metal band, much less a hair metal band.  However, just like Laphroaig 15yo, devotees are split and argue over which is better:  The old version or the new version?

BrechinNelson.  Because you probably haven’t heard of either of them.

Glenfarclas – I’m going with Aerosmith.  No, not the first cab off the rank – there were others before them, and there have been others since.  But they’re both still going strong; it’s still the same line-up (or family) and they’re both still putting out the hits.

JuraRose Tattoo.  Because they’d both be more popular if they’d just come from another island.

Glenfiddich Led Zeppelin.  Of course, you’ve already picked that Led Zeppelin weren’t 1980’s.  But, just like Glenfiddich, they did something different in the 1960’s, and everyone’s been trying to emulate them since!

DaftmillSteel Panther.  New kids on the block, both trying to re-live the glory days!

LadyburnFrehley’s Comet.  Just because you were associated with another big-name act, doesn’t mean you’ll be successful on your own!

GlenmorangieStryper. Because guys with good beliefs, good intentions, and good pedigree can rock as hard and as loud as the rest of them.

BowmorePoison.  You might not like everything they put out, but you can’t deny you enjoyed one or two of their hits! Besides, every rose has its thorn, right?

OctomoreMetallica.  Because some just do it louder, faster, and heavier than anyone else.

GlengoyneDef Leppard. Silky, refined, and polished; the hits stand the test of time.

Springbank Faith No More.  Because no one really knows what to make of them.

Counterfeit Macallans Milli Vanilli.  Bloody pretenders.

BladnochVan Halen.  Are they still going or not? Anyone know?

Glen OrdWarrant. Because you can put out a great, serious album but it only takes one cheesy single(ton) and you’ve lost your cred.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – Who else but Kiss.  “You wanted the best?  You got the best!!”


Got any more you’d like to suggest?  Leave a comment so we can all enjoy it!


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Author: AD

I’m a whisky host, writer, presenter, educator, taster, critic & all-round malt tragic! Also Director & Cellarmaster of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Australia. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @whiskyandwisdom and also on Twitter @SMWS_Australia

3 thoughts on “The 1980’s Heavy Metal Guide to Single Malt Whisky”

  1. Love it! In my youth metal was top! Combining metal with whisky uncovers a lot.
    Anthrax – Indians bourbon anyone?
    Islay – the metal band – 1st track Laphroig, last track Octomore – listen at your own peril!
    Now I can listen and drink at the same time.


    Whiskey Nut

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