OK, so there's no disputing taste. So I can't express my own, carefully researched opinions on Robert Lawrence Balzer's opinions (Spirits, "Single-Malt Scotches," Nov. 12). How about disputing fact, though?
Like, for example, Talisker. It's from Skye. That's island , not highland . So is its "style": peaty, not sweety (which is what you'd get from sherry casks). Indeed, the Cairngorm Whisky Centre and Museum (Aviemore, Inverness-shire) categorizes it in the Islay and Skye group, even though it's the only one from Skye, in recognition of the stylistic similarity.
Or, for example, numbers. "Only about 50 (distilleries) still produce single-malt whisky," according to Balzer. Wrong twice. First, all distilleries produce single malts, by definition; the only question is whether they sell them as singles. Second, my research covers at least 90 (the count isn't precise because a few "vatteds" and a few assumed names have snuck in) distilleries that do sell their product as singles, only two of which are known to be unavailable here.
Then there's dilution. Half-and-half with water? Come on. The usual recommendation by those reputable authorities who admit of any dilution is "a few drops of water to liberate the 'nose.' "