Friday, November 6, 2015

drams by the water: Laphroaig

And so we come to the end of our wild romp in Islay.

If I was that kind of fellow, I would call this trip life-changing. Let's put that hyperbole to the side for now. What I will say is that the entire time we were on the island, we felt how special Islay is. Its rolling hills, its green pastures, its friendly people ... what an amazing little corner of Scotland.

Laphroaig was our last stop. And truth be told, we were tired. What an incredible touch then, for our host to just say Don't worry about a thing. Let me pour you a few drams and you go enjoy yourself by the water. So we sat by the harbour, taking in the sun. It's in these moments of quiet thought, when you're so relaxed yet focused on tasting that you experience things. Such a rare moment, but I was struck by how much what I was tasting in the glass was making sense with what I was also experiencing from my surroundings ... the slight salinity of the wind blowing off the water, the smell of seaweed laid out by the retreating tide, the whiff of malting barley coming off of Port Ellen. Wow. Truly an imitable experience. As it turns out, Laphroaig has some pretty impressive marketing chops as well. They have a membership program in which you 'own' a square foot of land, receiving payments in the form of a dram of whisky whenever you visit. We planted our flags, we staked our claim. We are now proud owners of 4 square feet of land in Islay.

What a trip. What a run on the whisky trail.


Select: Sweet peatiness, good roundness from the oak. Alcohol is hidden. Spicy on the palate, some oak. A soft, round whisky.

10 Year Old: The standby. Honey and some spice, integrated alcohol. Gives you some saline, mineral elements.

10 Year Old Cask Strength: Bottled at 58% abv, very sweet here, thick and slightly candied. Again, very well integrated alcohol. A very powerful, spicy palate.

18 Year Old: Sweet, almost like bourbon. Thick and rich. Spicy and saline, but remaining quite elegant.

Triple Wood: Lots of, you guessed it, woody notes. Some smokiness. Very spicy, viscous, and round, finishing slightly bitter.

Quarter Cask: A very young whisky at around 5 years of age. and finished in (as the name suggests), small casks for about 10 months. Of the 6, definitely the most peat-forward. Saline and bright - very good indeed. Thick, creamy texture. Great peat flavours, finishing quite spicy. At 48% abv, alcohol near imperceptible. A fantastic expression.