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View Full Version : Well, I guess this means Islay malts are out...



Robmo
04-16-2011, 07:15
I tried Laphoaig last night and have to say I was disgusted. I can't say I wasn't forewarned, but I was actually a bit caught off guard by how medicinal and peaty it was.

I confess I'm a rather shallow wader in the world of scotch. I picked up this bottle of Laphroaig 10 yr just to find out if it suited my tastes...and it didn't.

I have heard or read that the Islay malts are generally the peatiest and the Speyside malts are more approachable to the uninitiated...that they are "unpeated".

Basically I need some advice...please recommend the single malts I should try next. I did like Glennfiddich 12 year which I understand is a Speyside. It was basically good although a bit tame. I'd like to find something a bit more challenging than the Glennfiddich but less distinctive than the Laphroaig. Thanks.

craigthom
04-16-2011, 07:33
I guess Glenfiddich counts as Speyside, even though it's about five miles from the river, while most of them are right on the Spey.

I have no recommendation for a Speyside malt, since I prefer to stronger ones from the west, but I do have this tip:

If you are on a road trip in Scotland with someone who is less enthusiastic than you about whisky, you can suggest visiting the Walker's Shortbread factory, which is, conveniently, in the thick of the Speyside distilleries.

sku
04-16-2011, 07:42
There are many, many unpeated (or low peat level) single malts from many redgions to choose from in a variety of styles, from light Auchentoshan, to sherried Glendronach and Glenfarclas to rugged Old Pulteney and Dalmore. Given your request for something a bit more challenging than Glenfiddich but not peated, I would try Old Pulteney, Dalmore and some of the Glenmorangie finished casks.

birdman1099
04-16-2011, 08:30
Laphroaig is a bold step for a non scotch drinker..... I like Islay's, but Laphroaig takes me to my limit.

If you want to try an easier Peated malt, try a Talisker... Less medicinal, easier drinking...

Brisko
04-16-2011, 10:50
Highland Park 12. It has a touch of heathery peat but it's nothing like Islay. I think it's a good option for a bourbon drinker, too. It's honeyed, toffee sweet, and a little floral at the entry, but finishes with a dry elegance.

Also, don't rule out Bunnahabhain, despite being on Islay there is little or no peat in this malt. I find the 12 y/o sweet, nutty, and salty-sea fresh.

Both of these are more complex and to me a lot more interesting that Glenfiddich. If you're set on Speyside, Macallan and Aberlour are great examples of what sherry butts do for a top notch distillate. Macallan is a little reminiscent of a good bourbon, too,

HP12
04-16-2011, 11:21
Birdman provides a good suggestion, Highland Park 12. It's a very good malt, lightly peated and makes for a better introduction into the peaty side of SMSW. Laphroiag's and Ardbeg's are generally for those with more acclimated palates within the world of Scotch.

Here's a very good resource that helped me find my way when I first discovered SMSW. https://www.lfw.co.uk/diageo/flavourmap.html
This flavor map provides a compass to help guide your way into the preferred flavor profile(s) that suit your tastes.

As you can see on "the map", the Laphroaig is in the upper left extreme quadrant where as HP12 is on the "rich" side and not as high above the "peamt line". You might well prefer a sherry influenced expression. Balvenie 12 Double Wood is nice, The Macallan 12 Sherry Cask is a"Sherry Bomb".
Glenmornagie 10 Original is fruity dram that may interest you as well.

Best thing to do is go to a bar with a good selection of SMSW and try a dram or two from each quadrant of the flavor map above and discover what zone you prefer and buy a bottle from there.

callmeox
04-16-2011, 12:08
I'm definitely not a scotch drinker, but I enjoy Dalmore 12. I'll recommend that as a stepping stone.

Virus_Of_Life
04-16-2011, 12:31
I made a similar mistake with an Ardbeg 10 after thinking Glenfiddich was almost flavorless, damn, that was not to my tastes at all. I at times want a change of pace whisk(e)y, but obviously that was too much, and I don't like the super sweet either, like the Glenlivet Nadurra I tasted was just way too sweet for my tastes.

Thanks Ox, I had been eyeing Dalmore 12 at a place that had it on sale for I think under $40 a bottle and then mailed me a 15% off coupon, so that'd be cheap enough to venture out.

callmeox
04-16-2011, 12:39
I should have placed a caveat in that Dalmore has reformulated and i have a bottle of the last iteration of the 12 year, not the current.

ebo
04-16-2011, 13:20
First off, stay away from Ardmore. It IS a Speyside, but it's a fully peated one... and a favorite of mine. Try Aberlour 12, McCallan 12 or Balvenie Double Wood. These are sweeter and are aged/finished in Sherry casks.

You may also want to try Auchentoshan Classic, 12 year or Three wood.

Megawatt
04-16-2011, 13:58
I advise you hang onto that Laphroaig; you may develop a taste for it later on. As an entry to smoky malts I recommend trying Talisker 10. It was the "gateway malt" for me, and allowed me to enjoy the likes of Lagavulin, which disgusted me at first. I'm sure you can find a bar which serves Talisker, or look for a mini bottle.

I recommend Aberlour 10, Strathisla 12, Highland Park 12 as malts that are more challenging than Glenfiddich 12. Actually Glenkinchie 12 is one of my favourites so I'll recommend that too.

Robmo
04-16-2011, 15:42
I advise you hang onto that Laphroaig; you may develop a taste for it later on. .

I can see where you're coming from. I tried it again last night and it was a bit more palatable.

I appreciate all the great suggestions and guidance from everyone. This Web site amazes me.

OscarV
04-16-2011, 15:54
Might I suggest GlenDronach Revival.
See Ralfy's review #195, click below;

http://whiskyreviews.blogspot.com/

I have never had this scotch but I would love to from all that I have heard about it.
I like Four Roses and Wild Turkey bourbons and for a change of pace I go to Van Winkle or Weller.
I like Laphroaig and Ardbeg scotchs and I think this GlenDronach would be the Weller to those scotchs.

Have you ever tried Laphroaig 18yo, it is absolutely fantastic.
You know that smell of last night's campfire that you doused out with water and how it has that terrible smell the next morning?
That's what Lap 18 tastes like, an awesome peat monster, you can't beat it, I love it.

Robmo
04-16-2011, 16:01
Might I suggest GlenDronach Revial.
See Ralfy's review #195, click below;

http://whiskyreviews.blogspot.com/


I do like Ralfy. He's one of the only scotch drinkers I can understand.

OscarV
04-16-2011, 17:02
I do like Ralfy. He's one of the only scotch drinkers I can understand.



GlenDronach Revival is not sold in the USA, if you can get some over there ship some over here.:grin:

TNbourbon
04-16-2011, 17:24
I can see where you're coming from. I tried it again last night and it was a bit more palatable.

I appreciate all the great suggestions and guidance from everyone. This Web site amazes me.
Some Scotches definitely are acquired tastes, and the Islay/island malts are among them, certainly!
I see them almost as the tail side of the bourbon-affinity coin: the Lincoln Memorial came well AFTER Abraham Lincoln; Monticello AFTER Thomas Jefferson, et al. Bourbons are more immediately approachable and enjoyable, as a group and individually (within that group), than single malts. I didn't like many of the latter that I admire and appreciate today the first time I had them, either.
But, in the end, they are whisk(e)ys, just with different flavors, influences, and nuances. Not all my candy needs be chocolate, anymore, either -- but chocolate undoubtedly is what I first thought of as 'candy'.

As others have noted, the Talisker 10 has some sweet notes -- butterscotch, to me -- that emulate bourbon, and yet is undeniably island malt. Try it. Highland Park 12yo is an excellent value (though less so than it used to be -- see if you can find an older, "Orkney Islands" iteration, with the islands etched into the bottom of the bottle, at its original price c. $35 U.S.), with only the introductory essence of peatiness, and plenty of flavor.

OscarV
04-16-2011, 17:34
oscar rules


OK, so I took some liberties with blocking out certain letters but the above letters you did type Tim, just not in that order.
You have the whole summer off, so when you coming home to visit?!?!?

TNbourbon
04-16-2011, 17:39
...so when you coming home to visit?!?!?
You sound like my sister, Oscar!:skep: She's been asking when I'll be moving "back home" for almost 30 years now, even though I've spent more than half my life here!:lol:
I'm home already. (Though, I suspect I WILL get back to Michigan someday;) -- I just don't have a current plan. And when I do, the bourbon's on YOU!:cool:)

OscarV
04-16-2011, 17:43
You sound like my sister, Oscar!:skep: She's been asking when I'll be moving "back home" for almost 30 years now, even though I've spent more than half my life here!:lol:
I'm home already. (Though, I suspect I WILL get back to Michigan someday;) -- I just don't have a current plan. And when I do, the bourbon's on YOU!:cool:)

Oh for God's sake, I have been compared to a sister.

Robmo
04-16-2011, 18:23
the Lincoln Memorial came well AFTER Abraham Lincoln; Monticello AFTER Thomas Jefferson, et al.

the Talisker 10 has some sweet notes -- butterscotch, to me -- that emulate bourbon, and yet is undeniably island malt.

Not sure about the Monticello reference there, as I thought Jefferson built it, lived there and fathered several children there! :grin:

Talisker 10 seems to be a consensus recommendation both on SB.com and with a couple personal friends of mine. That may be my next foray, although a lot of other ones look tempting.

TNbourbon
04-16-2011, 19:25
Not sure about the Monticello reference there, as I thought Jefferson built it, lived there and fathered several children there!..
It wasn't built, however, before he existed -- which was my point, apparently unrealized. I was trying to state that an appreciation of single malt may well pre-suppose a prior appreciation of bourbon.

craigthom
04-16-2011, 19:57
Talisker is a peaty scotch, even though it's from Skye instead of Islay, but it is less argumentative than Laphroaig. I adored the Laphroaig 15 I bought in Scotland many years ago. I guess they've moved to 18 instead of 15 now because Beam thinks that's a better scotch age.

Talisker 10 is what I drink when I drink Scotch, but I suspect that's in large part because I've been there (although I've also been to Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie and a few others, so it's only part of the reason).

Robmo
04-17-2011, 17:50
It wasn't built, however, before he existed -- which was my point, apparently unrealized. I was trying to state that an appreciation of single malt may well pre-suppose a prior appreciation of bourbon.

To change the subject slightly, Jefferson was a beer and wine drinker and didn't exactly have warm and fuzzy feelings about whiskey...

"I wish to see this beverage become common instead of the whiskey which kills one-third of our citizens and ruins their families."

and

"Beer, if drank with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit, and promotes health."

"Wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health."

....

Compare to Lincoln: "You just find out, to oblige me, what brand of whiskey Grant drinks, because I want to send a barrel of it to each one of my generals."

---

which raises the interesting question of why Jefferson's Reserve features a likeness of the third president and architect of Monticello on their bottles...Knob Creek would appear to have the more authentic marketing angle.

roostercogburn
04-17-2011, 18:32
Balvenie Doublewood was one of my first steps-up from 'Fiddich and Glenlivet, and I still enjoy it immensely. Talisker 10 is another fine choice, as is Highland Park 12.

I'll echo the advice that you hold onto the Lap. I was in almost the exact same position as you: Lap Quarter Cask was one of my first scotch pours, and I almost swore the stuff off for good. Now, I really enjoy the peated scotches and hope you will too someday.

unclebunk
04-18-2011, 07:05
Balvenie Doublewood was one of my first steps-up from 'Fiddich and Glenlivet, and I still enjoy it immensely. Talisker 10 is another fine choice, as is Highland Park 12.

I'll echo the advice that you hold onto the Lap. I was in almost the exact same position as you: Lap Quarter Cask was one of my first scotch pours, and I almost swore the stuff off for good. Now, I really enjoy the peated scotches and hope you will too someday.

My experience and sentiments exactly, Rooster. My relatives in Scotland hit me with all the Islays right off the bat and, for most folks anyway, that's a sure misstep for the novice scotch drinker. I was really put off by the intense flavors/aromas and the peat in particular but my gradual move from Johnnie Walker Black to Balvenie Doublewood to Highland Park 12 (an all-time favorite of mine) paved the way to a full appreciation of all things Islay (and Skye). Keep in mind that Laphroaig, in some respects, is unique even among Islays and all other single malts for that matter. The strong presence of brine, iodine, etc. gives it a "medicinal" (for lack of a better word) character that is hard to find in other malts, at least to the degree that you'll find in Laphroaig. Nowadays, I can't get enough of the stuff but it was a long, slow process that eventually brought me there. Give it time and try some others before passing final judgment on the Laphroaig. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it someday!

timd
04-18-2011, 09:29
I was trying to state that an appreciation of single malt may well pre-suppose a prior appreciation of bourbon.

For me, it was backwards - I started out on Scotch, got hooked, and very quickly tried out some Islay (10 yr. Laphroaig) and fell instantly in love - it was the peaty, medicinal, bold flavor that hooked me on whisk(e)y.

It was some time later that I could stomach Bourbon (oh the horror that it was so). I always kept a bottle of WT101 around for "mixing" and we'd try it straight from time to time and found it... repulsive!... Right up until we didn't! One day it was suddenly really, really good!

So, in my case Peat was the gateway to the world of whisk(e)y, and the love of Rye came next, and shortly after Bourbon.

Thanks for letting me share - and don't think less of me because I love Scotch. I'm trying to drink more bourbon now that I'm in Texas.

HP12
04-18-2011, 10:13
For me, it was backwards - I started out on Scotch, got hooked, and very quickly tried out some Islay (10 yr. Laphroaig) and fell instantly in love - it was the peaty, medicinal, bold flavor that hooked me on whisk(e)y.

It was some time later that I could stomach Bourbon (oh the horror that it was so). I always kept a bottle of WT101 around for "mixing" and we'd try it straight from time to time and found it... repulsive!... Right up until we didn't! One day it was suddenly really, really good!

So, in my case Peat was the gateway to the world of whisk(e)y, and the love of Rye came next, and shortly after Bourbon.

Thanks for letting me share - and don't think less of me because I love Scotch. I'm trying to drink more bourbon now that I'm in Texas.

A similar story that I experienced. Started with single malt Scotch, first bottle purchased was Highland Park 12, 2nd was Balvenie 12DW and the 3rd was Laphoaig 12. I have since blasted off with several more bottles of Scotch from various distilleries and expanded into world whisk(e)y including Bourbon's and Ryes. Love it all.

Great to have a cabinet stocked with various profiles of flavor in order to compare, share and satisfy any mood.

timd
04-18-2011, 10:49
first bottle purchased was Highland Park 12

My first purchased Scotch too! It's a great gateway Scotch.

Lots of folks mention Talisker 10 (I've killed quite a few bottles of that, I especially love Distillers Edition and the 18), and if you get a kick out of the spicy rye quality of Bourbon, then I could see it being a hit - but if you are into wheaters, I'm afraid the pepper/spice would be more off-putting than the smoke!

Black & white pepper are big parts of the Talisker profile. It's also fairly dry and not terribly sweet. Great stuff, to be sure, but I'd look at a Caol Ila or a peated Highlander for the bourbon-rich smoothness. A sherried & peated Scotch could be a hit, too (this style is my fave of any type of whisk(e)y - sweet & smokey, with a rich full body and not too dry)

HP12
04-18-2011, 11:26
My first purchased Scotch too! It's a great gateway Scotch.

Lots of folks mention Talisker 10 (I've killed quite a few bottles of that, I especially love Distillers Edition and the 18), and if you get a kick out of the spicy rye quality of Bourbon, then I could see it being a hit - but if you are into wheaters, I'm afraid the pepper/spice would be more off-putting than the smoke!

Black & white pepper are big parts of the Talisker profile. It's also fairly dry and not terribly sweet. Great stuff, to be sure, but I'd look at a Caol Ila or a peated Highlander for the bourbon-rich smoothness. A sherried & peated Scotch could be a hit, too (this style is my fave of any type of whisk(e)y - sweet & smokey, with a rich full body and not too dry)

Yep, I have had the Tali 10 and have a bottle of it along with Tali 18 in the bunker. Take a look a my cabinet. I feel it's a fairly diverse selection for someone who only revisited whisk(e)y world (neat) this past fall for the first time in 25 years, other than drinking whiskey in mixed drinks!

http://www.connosr.com/members/hp12/

Robmo
04-18-2011, 13:53
Based on world wide scotch sales (90% blended, 10% single malts, according to an article just read) it would seem that most of the world starts with scotch before trying bourbon (if they try it at all).

I will definitely keep an open mind to the Islay malts but I'd like to explore more blends, Speysides and Highlands before coming back to the Islays. And there's so much bourbon, rye, Irish and Japanese malt I have yet to try! Thanks again for all the great advice from everyone.:grin:

HP12
04-18-2011, 14:55
Based on world wide scotch sales (90% blended, 10% single malts, according to an article just read) it would seem that most of the world starts with scotch before trying bourbon (if they try it at all).

I will definitely keep an open mind to the Islay malts but I'd like to explore more blends, Speysides and Highlands before coming back to the Islays. And there's so much bourbon, rye, Irish and Japanese malt I have yet to try! Thanks again for all the great advice from everyone.:grin:

Pick up a bottle of Teacher's Highland Cream blended Scotch. Very good value and a very respectable dram indeed.

unclebunk
04-18-2011, 17:07
Pick up a bottle of Teacher's Highland Cream blended Scotch. Very good value and a very respectable dram indeed.

I love Teacher's and have turned many people on to it, even a few who rarely stray from single malts.

cds
04-19-2011, 02:52
My second tasting of Scotch was Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength. I was shocked. I do not know of any other spirit that has a taste that stays with me for the same length of time.
Don't throw the bottle away or give it away. Come back to it after time. Every time I go back to it, I find a new experience.

Brisko
04-19-2011, 04:17
My first purchased Scotch too! It's a great gateway Scotch.

Lots of folks mention Talisker 10 (I've killed quite a few bottles of that, I especially love Distillers Edition and the 18), and if you get a kick out of the spicy rye quality of Bourbon, then I could see it being a hit - but if you are into wheaters, I'm afraid the pepper/spice would be more off-putting than the smoke!

Black & white pepper are big parts of the Talisker profile. It's also fairly dry and not terribly sweet. Great stuff, to be sure, but I'd look at a Caol Ila or a peated Highlander for the bourbon-rich smoothness. A sherried & peated Scotch could be a hit, too (this style is my fave of any type of whisk(e)y - sweet & smokey, with a rich full body and not too dry)

Talisker is kind of a crap-shoot too in that is pretty variable from batch to batch. The level of peat stays about the same, but everything else is kind of up in the air. At its best, it offers a soft, peaty entry, followed by a brooding, syrupy, salty-sweetness that slides around nervously on the tongue. Out of nowhere, an explosion of pepper hits you at the back of the mouth (much like some hot peppers, where the burn doesn't hit you until it's too late. It's an experience.

Other batches tend to be drier, less sweet, and far less peppery. Still recommendable, though. Also, recent batches seem to have a sour-dairy note on the nose (kind of like the traditional cheese you get in the Balkans). It's also present in recent Johnnie Walker Black labels--no surprise since Talisker is a big component of that blend.

Bottlings from a few years ago had more bandages on the nose and less pepper in the finish, more of a fine tobacco smoke at the end.

Robmo
04-19-2011, 07:59
Just to summarize so far, we've got about 6 endorsements of Highland Park 12, about 4 each for Talisker and Balvenie, and about 3 each for Macallan, Aberlour and Dalmore.

There were 2 endorsements each for Teacher's, Glendronach, Glenmorangie...

I also thought I'd attach this document: a summary of some taste test findings in a book by Phillip Hill from 2005: what I find most intriguing is that the "Something Special" blended scotch made it into the top 20 alongside the Macallan 25 years.

Josh
04-19-2011, 08:01
Nobody doesn't like Highland Park.

HP12
04-19-2011, 08:48
...what I find most intriguing is that the "Something Special" blended scotch made it into the top 20 alongside the Macallan 25 years.

Blends are not all bad. The likes of Dewar's White Label give blends a bad reputation. For 2011, Jim Murray named Ballantine's 17 yo the "World Whisky of the Year"...it's a blend.

As for Highland Park, I must agree that not too many people don't like it. If one likes HP12, you'll probably love HP18. A great couple of whisky's that are an education when tasted side-by-side.

Josh
04-19-2011, 08:59
Blends are not all bad. The likes of Dewar's White Label give blends a bad reputation. For 2011, Jim Murray named Ballantine's 17 yo the "World Whisky of the Year"...it's a blend.

As for Highland Park, I must agree that not too many people don't like it. If one likes HP12, you'll probably love HP18. A great couple of whisky's that are an education when tasted side-by-side.

Totally off-topic, but I love your avatar HP12.

LeoDLion
04-22-2011, 08:45
Robmo,
When I first tasted Laphroaig with friends, we thought the bottle was spoiled because it tasted of turpentine. We put it aside and open a different one. I took the Laph home. The next day I poured another shot and it still tasted like a mixture of turpentine and iodine. 2nd, 3rd, 4th day was all the same. On the fifth day, I can not believe this is the same bottle that I took home. The taste was completely different. There is a hint of the iodine taste but the prevailing taste is much different. There is a wonderful rounded peaty taste that I have had for the first time. This is easily the best scotch I have!

Since then Islay single malt whiskey is my favorite. Ardbeg and Lagavulin is on top of the list followed by the others. Laphroiag remain to be the peatiest in my opinion.

Here is a picture of a 4.5 liter Ardeg and a 750 ml one.

So give it a try. It is an acquired taste but you will love it.

Leo

Robmo
04-22-2011, 15:11
Robmo,
When I first tasted Laphroaig with friends, we thought the bottle was spoiled because it tasted of turpentine. ..

Since then Islay single malt whiskey is my favorite. Ardbeg and Lagavulin is on top of the list followed by the others. Laphroiag remain to be the peatiest in my opinion.


Leo

Great story. Cool pic. I'll try to keep an open mind.

cowdery
04-23-2011, 15:04
I like Islay malts but where I think people make a mistake is when they start their exploration of single malts there. It's just like the people who start their exploration of bourbon and rye with 20-year-old one-offs. But then some people like to jump to the last chapter in books too.

Stu
04-24-2011, 11:40
I guess I'm the exception. I used to describe scotch as whisky someone washed their socks in and sold at a premium price. That was blended scotch. Then I tried single malts (Laphroaig and Lagavulin) and became an instant malt lover. Since then I've found a few blends that are good. White Horse (lots of Lagavulin in it), Something Special (it is), Dewars 18, a couple of Johnny Walkers. Ian Henderson, former manager of Laphroaig, said about Laphroaig "You either love it or you hate it, there's no middle ground". Many people who hate it wind up loving it (such as my wife). I guess it's an acquired taste that I acquired the first time I tried it.

RegChumpington
04-24-2011, 12:44
GlenDronach Revival is not sold in the USA, if you can get some over there ship some over here.:grin:

I might be missing something (quite likely) - but I sure remember buying my bottle of Revival just three blocks from my house, ostensibly still in the US. :)

cowdery
04-24-2011, 14:34
To say you are exceptional, Stu, is an understatement.

Shuboy
04-25-2011, 19:39
GlenDronach Revival is not sold in the USA, if you can get some over there ship some over here.:grin:

http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1063450

Since their three stores are all in California, I'd say you can get it here. A bit pricier than other 15 year olds however.

sku
04-25-2011, 20:24
I like Islay malts but where I think people make a mistake is when they start their exploration of single malts there. It's just like the people who start their exploration of bourbon and rye with 20-year-old one-offs. But then some people like to jump to the last chapter in books too.

I don't know about that. I almost feel like peat is a love it or hate it thing (and we should be clear that not all Islays are peated). I know lots of people who say they loved it from the first time they tried a Lagavulin, as I did, and others who are seasoned malt drinkers but still can't stand the taste of peat. So while I definitely agree with about not starting with the biggest and oldest bourbons (a mistake I made), I think peat is a different thing. It's a wholly different flavor, rather than something people seem to learn to like from experienced tasting. That being said, I assume there are some people who had to get used to it to appreciate the taste.

Megawatt
04-26-2011, 04:58
I don't know about that. I almost feel like peat is a love it or hate it thing (and we should be clear that not all Islays are peated). I know lots of people who say they loved it from the first time they tried a Lagavulin, as I did, and others who are seasoned malt drinkers but still can't stand the taste of peat. So while I definitely agree with about not starting with the biggest and oldest bourbons (a mistake I made), I think peat is a different thing. It's a wholly different flavor, rather than something people seem to learn to like from experienced tasting. That being said, I assume there are some people who had to get used to it to appreciate the taste.

It was definitely an acquired taste for me, whereas my brother loved it at first sip.

Tucker
04-26-2011, 07:17
My oldest opened bottle is a Laphroaig 10; I've had it for more than 10 years. I appreciate it for what it is but have a hard time finding the right occasion to enjoy it now, although that might have something to do with my first pour.

After returning home with my family from a successful trip to Russia I took to the deck with a Cuban Montecristo No. 2 and a double of the Laphroaig 10. It was my first experience with each, not being much of a cigar smoker and having only limited contact with an Islay (at that time it was whatever's in JWB, I'd guess).

I managed to finish all of the Laphroaig, about half of the cigar, and a look in the mirror would have confirmed that my face had never before turned that exact shade of green. The next morning I awoke smelling as if I'd rolled around a soggy campfire all night. My taste buds were shot for at least three days.

Noob mistake, but I've since managed to increase my tolerances a good bit and now enjoy a good smoke once in a while. As for Scotch, I tend to stick with the Speysides and Highlands.

Robmo
04-26-2011, 08:28
I've found a few blends that are good. White Horse (lots of Lagavulin in it), Something Special (it is).

Thanks, I was wondering when someone was going to put in a plug for White Horse or Something Special.:grin:

Well guys, I've received a lot of great recommendations on this thread. Pay day is in another two days and I'm going to probably check out some blends that were mentioned here as well as HP 12 and possibly some Macallan and Talisker. I won't be checking in on this board for a few months since I need to concentrate on a &%#$* dissertation and frankly this Web site can be dangerously addictive.

I've received a lot of great tips and useful knowledge on this and other threads. Look forward to participating again when things aren't so hectic.

Bambusiero
04-27-2011, 04:48
Just a comment about ageing in the bottle after opening.

I'm comfortable saying now that both Highland Park 12 and Laphroig Cask Strength will both improve significantly in the months after opening. So, be patient and try the peat again (a few times). These were 2 of the first 3 Scotches I bought as a Scotch newby.

I liked HP 12 right away, and then it just got richer and better balanced over a month or two. A 2nd bottle some time later has confirmed it.

Laphroig CS - now that's a different story. It completely set me back on my heels. Phew! Wet camp fire ashes brewed in a Band-Aid box! What a mistake. That Islay peat thing just wasn't for me. It sat there in very back of the cabinet, mocking me. In time, I licked my wounds and went back for re-matches. I learned that adding different amounts of water brought out completely new flavors (over-ripe banana? passion fruit? huh?) The original peat and iodine character were still there, but now as layers with other flavors. It relaxed, mellowed, and sweetened over the next year or more. Yeah, it was still too serious to be gulping down all the time, so it lasts. By the end of the bottle it was a lovely old friend.

Laphroig 18 was beautiful right from the start. Rich, dark, sweet, brooding, more subdued peat. It's the age, I guess. It has NOT changed.

Laphroig 10 - Can't say. Have not tried it. A bit of open time might just mellow it too, though.

So - the bottle changed, but fair to say - so have I. Now I love peat. I'm corrupted.
Coal Ila's my fave. A cleaner, smokier peat taste, somehow. Gone now, so sad.
Ardbeg 10 is currently on the shelf, and it's nice too, in that young, rascally, peaty sort of way.

But...I'm no peat snob. More of a tourist.
Clynellish, Cragganmore, Oban, MacAllan, Aberlour, Glenfiddich, Singleton of Glendullan, Bunnahabhain, Black Bottle, Dalmore, Scapa, Balvenie, Talasker. It's all good.

Cheers,
Mark

sku
04-27-2011, 05:15
http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1063450

Since their three stores are all in California, I'd say you can get it here. A bit pricier than other 15 year olds however.

Yes the Revival is now here, though it's only been here for about 6 months. I've seen it in NY as well.

unclebunk
04-27-2011, 07:10
Just a comment about ageing in the bottle after opening.

I'm comfortable saying now that both Highland Park 12 and Laphroig Cask Strength will both improve significantly in the months after opening. So, be patient and try the peat again (a few times). These were 2 of the first 3 Scotches I bought as a Scotch newby.

I liked HP 12 right away, and then it just got richer and better balanced over a month or two. A 2nd bottle some time later has confirmed it.

Laphroig CS - now that's a different story. It completely set me back on my heels. Phew! Wet camp fire ashes brewed in a Band-Aid box! What a mistake. That Islay peat thing just wasn't for me. It sat there in very back of the cabinet, mocking me. In time, I licked my wounds and went back for re-matches. I learned that adding different amounts of water brought out completely new flavors (over-ripe banana? passion fruit? huh?) The original peat and iodine character were still there, but now as layers with other flavors. It relaxed, mellowed, and sweetened over the next year or more. Yeah, it was still too serious to be gulping down all the time, so it lasts. By the end of the bottle it was a lovely old friend.

Laphroig 18 was beautiful right from the start. Rich, dark, sweet, brooding, more subdued peat. It's the age, I guess. It has NOT changed.

Laphroig 10 - Can't say. Have not tried it. A bit of open time might just mellow it too, though.

So - the bottle changed, but fair to say - so have I. Now I love peat. I'm corrupted.
Coal Ila's my fave. A cleaner, smokier peat taste, somehow. Gone now, so sad.
Ardbeg 10 is currently on the shelf, and it's nice too, in that young, rascally, peaty sort of way.

But...I'm no peat snob. More of a tourist.
Clynellish, Cragganmore, Oban, MacAllan, Aberlour, Glenfiddich, Singleton of Glendullan, Bunnahabhain, Black Bottle, Dalmore, Scapa, Balvenie, Talasker. It's all good.

Cheers,
Mark

Nice post, Mark. I agree--they're all good and there's always room on the shelf for more. Variety is the spice of life, so being open-minded when sampling new scotch for the first time is the key to enjoyment! (And I can't get enough of Caol Ila too!)

RegChumpington
04-27-2011, 07:44
I have to add myself to the list of Caol Ila lovers. I was fine with peat by the time of my first encounter with Caol Ila and it struck me as just rubbery and smokey.

However, it was the bottle I had open as we were settling into our new place so it's now got some great memories associated with it, many of them sitting on the patio watching the sun set. Between that and the mellowing of it as the bottle was open, it really grew on me and is now one of my favorites.

I personally love the changes a bottle of Laphroaig 10 goes through during its life. There was a period where mine tasted like bacon in a bottle... but by the end everything had settled and balanced and it was just this gently peaty, creamy good drink.


Geez, it's not even 8 AM and I'm thinking of cracking an Islay. Vive le funemployment! ;)

cowdery
04-27-2011, 11:25
What Islay malts are not peated?

Josh
04-27-2011, 11:31
What Islay malts are not peated?

Bunnahabhain is traditionally unpeated, although I think they recently released a peated version.

sku
04-27-2011, 11:41
What Islay malts are not peated?

As Josh mentioned, Bunnahabhain is unpeated (though they now do a peated malt as well). Bruichladdich is also traditionally unpeated, though they now make several peated malts too. Those are the big two, but both Caol Ila and Ardbeg are making unpeated (or low peat level) malts now as well.

The regional styles of Scotland have always been somewhat artificial (the regions were originally drawn as tax districts and had nothing to do with the character of the whiskey being produced), but they have become especially blurred of late as more distilleries experiment with different flavors, so you have low peated Ardbeg Blasda and peated Speysiders like BenRiach Curiositas.

unclebunk
04-27-2011, 14:15
Hmm. I never knew Bunnhabhain was non-peated. I just thought it was very lightly peated, which seems to come through in the flavor and aroma of the standard 12 year old expression. I googled "Bunnahabhain 12 unpeated" and many whisky sites make this claim but I've yet to find any authoritative site (like the distillery itself) say anything about the product being unpeated. Here's what I found on their web site:

"We could try and make out that our whisky is made from superior ingredients than that of other Islay malts but, if you know your malt whisky, you will know that all good whisky starts off the same. What we can tell you is that Bunnahabhain’s gentle taste is so unique because we have never heavily peated our fine malted barley, our natural spring water source has run clear for over one hundred years and our sea facing warehouses provide the perfect environment for maturing our spirit."

That would seem to indicate that their whisky is, in fact, peated, just mildly so.

sku
04-27-2011, 14:23
Hmm. I never knew Bunnhabhain was non-peated. I just thought it was very lightly peated, which seems to come through in the flavor and aroma of the standard 12 year old expression. I googled "Bunnahabhain 12 unpeated" and many whisky sites make this claim but I've yet to find any authoritative site (like the distillery itself) say anything about the product being unpeated. Here's what I found on their web site:

"We could try and make out that our whisky is made from superior ingredients than that of other Islay malts but, if you know your malt whisky, you will know that all good whisky starts off the same. What we can tell you is that Bunnahabhain’s gentle taste is so unique because we have never heavily peated our fine malted barley, our natural spring water source has run clear for over one hundred years and our sea facing warehouses provide the perfect environment for maturing our spirit."

That would seem to indicate that their whisky is, in fact, peated, just mildly so.

Well, almost all Scotch has some level of peat in it (there's peat in much of the water in Scotland), so techincally, I think you're right. But when Scotch fans talk about unpeated malts, they are generally talking about malts with a very low ppm and no discernible peaty flavor as opposed to having 0% peat (Glengoyne is the only Scotch distillery I know of that claims to be totally peat free).

Highly peated Scotch can have anywhere from 30 to over 100 ppm of peat phenols in the original distillate. When you get down to below 10 ppm, you're talking about very little discernible peat flavor.

unclebunk
04-27-2011, 16:35
Well, almost all Scotch has some level of peat in it (there's peat in much of the water in Scotland), so techincally, I think you're right. But when Scotch fans talk about unpeated malts, they are generally talking about malts with a very low ppm and no discernible peaty flavor as opposed to having 0% peat (Glengoyne is the only Scotch distillery I know of that claims to be totally peat free).

Highly peated Scotch can have anywhere from 30 to over 100 ppm of peat phenols in the original distillate. When you get down to below 10 ppm, you're talking about very little discernible peat flavor.

Thanks for the clarification, though to avoid confusion and/or disappointment for the uninitiated, I personally would characterize Bunnahabhain as a malt with very light peat flavor, rather than "no discernible peat flavor" or "unpeated." I am one of those Scotch fans you referred to and when I think of "unpeated" I'm generally referring to (most) Speysides. Sampled on its own, without comparisons to other Islays and/or island whiskies, Bunnahabhain clearly has a distinct but subtle peat component that makes it an ideal entry point to the world of peated malts.

ebo
04-27-2011, 18:41
Bunnahabhain is traditionally unpeated, although I think they recently released a peated version.
Bunnahabhain has always been peated. It is, however, the lightest peated Islay.

ebo
04-27-2011, 18:45
As Josh mentioned, Bunnahabhain is unpeated (though they now do a peated malt as well). Bruichladdich is also traditionally unpeated, though they now make several peated malts too. Those are the big two, but both Caol Ila and Ardbeg are making unpeated (or low peat level) malts now as well.

The regional styles of Scotland have always been somewhat artificial (the regions were originally drawn as tax districts and had nothing to do with the character of the whiskey being produced), but they have become especially blurred of late as more distilleries experiment with different flavors, so you have low peated Ardbeg Blasda and peated Speysiders like BenRiach Curiositas.
I respect your opinions on whisk(e)y, because I know you know are very educated on the subject... but ,not ALL scotch whisky is peated. The water has nothing to do with weather or not a scotch whisky is peated or not. The termination of germination by drying the grain over a PEAT fuled fire determines the amount of peat present in a scotch whisky.

smokinjoe
04-27-2011, 20:21
I have loved Lagavulin from the first time I smelled it. It just took me about 7 years to finally taste it, after (kinda) nosing it...My wife and I took a trip to London in 1993, and took in all of the usual sights/attractions. One of these was "Tower Hill Pageant". Don't know if it's still there, but it was a dark ride museum which displays various events and eras of the 2,000 year history of the City of London. It's sort of a "life size model" thing, where the scenes pass before you, and are complete with "smells" from each era. Both Amy and I were intrigued by a peculiar smell that seemed to permeate many of the scenes. Particularly, those that showed a fire. We left wondering what kind of "wood" smelled so pleasant.

Fast forward 7 years.

I was invited to a very well done Johnnie Walker Black tasting event at a cool venue in Atlanta. The deal was that they would pour several of the single malts that make up JW Black, to show what goes into the blend. They would then finish with a pour of JWB. The SM's were Talisker, Cardhu, Oban, (some other one I can't remember now), and...Lagavulin. I think the Lagavulin was the last of the SM's poured. When they got to the Lagavulin, and I sniffed it, the memory of London immediately came rushing back. It was the same smell from the Tower Hill Pageant! I wondered, What the heck is it??!! Of course, they explained it was the burning of the peat used to malt the barley, yada yada yada. AHA!!!, I exclaimed. So, that's it!!!! I bored my buddy with the story (probably, like I'm boring you now :D) But, it was a true Eureka! moment. I enjoyed that pour immensely. When I got home, I woke Amy up to bore her with my findings. (I forget the exact words she used, but I remember that she wasn't as thrilled as I, at that time, and I think I was forced to sleep down the hall...:crazy:) Anywho, the next day, I rushed to my local store to get the first of the many Lag 16's that I have purchased since. I have loved every drop, of each and every bottle.

sku
04-27-2011, 20:37
I respect your opinions on whisk(e)y, because I know you know are very educated on the subject... but ,not ALL scotch whisky is peated. The water has nothing to do with weather or not a scotch whisky is peated or not. The termination of germination by drying the grain over a PEAT fuled fire determines the amount of peat present in a scotch whisky.

You are absolutely right that the drying of the grain with peat is where the peat flavor comes from. My point, clearly not well made, was that even Scotch that doesn't use peat in the drying may have trace peat levels based on the water. There is some debate as to whether that adds any flavor at all (most would say it does not), but I just wanted to be clear that most Scotch, even most that people consider "unpeated" has some level of peat. Moreover, some distilleries use peat for drying, but only a small amount, thus not imparting the massive peat that you get in a heavily peated Scotch.

http://www.whiskymag.com/magazine/issue70/12008475.html

This all goes to say that there is a wide range of peating on and off Islay. I can taste the peat in some versions of "unpeated" Caol Ila and in Ardbeg Blasda, but I've had Bruichladdichs where I can't taste any at all.

Happyhour24x7
04-28-2011, 03:19
Well, almost all Scotch has some level of peat in it (there's peat in much of the water in Scotland), so techincally, I think you're right. But when Scotch fans talk about unpeated malts, they are generally talking about malts with a very low ppm and no discernible peaty flavor as opposed to having 0% peat (Glengoyne is the only Scotch distillery I know of that claims to be totally peat free).

Highly peated Scotch can have anywhere from 30 to over 100 ppm of peat phenols in the original distillate. When you get down to below 10 ppm, you're talking about very little discernible peat flavor.

A tasting I attended a few months back put the Bunnahabhain at 5 ppm. Easily my favorite whisky at the tasting, it was a 40 yo bottling. Not that I expect to find (or afford) that again, but unfortunately liquor stores here don't carry Bunnahabhain of any kind. Now that you guys have reminded me, guess I'll have to do some online shopping.

craigthom
04-28-2011, 04:28
You are absolutely right that the drying of the grain with peat is where the peat flavor comes from. My point, clearly not well made, was that even Scotch that doesn't use peat in the drying may have trace peat levels based on the water. There is some debate as to whether that adds any flavor at all (most would say it does not), but I just wanted to be clear that most Scotch, even most that people consider "unpeated" has some level of peat. Moreover, some distilleries use peat for drying, but only a small amount, thus not imparting the massive peat that you get in a heavily peated Scotch.

http://www.whiskymag.com/magazine/issue70/12008475.html

This all goes to say that there is a wide range of peating on and off Islay. I can taste the peat in some versions of "unpeated" Caol Ila and in Ardbeg Blasda, but I've had Bruichladdichs where I can't taste any at all.

On the Talisker tour they make a point of showing that the water they use is brown with peat.

unclebunk
04-28-2011, 06:31
All this discussion about Bunnahabhain 12 got me wondering how the "new" version, which upped the ABV to 46% and is non-chill filtered, tastes in comparison to the "older" green-bottled version (the new stuff comes in a brown bottle). Pity about the price jump, at least around here, but I'll be grabbing the brown-bottled stuff soon.

unclebunk
04-28-2011, 06:50
On the Talisker tour they make a point of showing that the water they use is brown with peat.

It's fascinating, really, when you consider all the variables that effect water sources in the production of single malts. Some water travels through fields loaded with peat, other water sources pass through tons of heather before reaching its collection point. Some are greatly influenced by ocean spray if the distillery is near the sea and so on and so on. During a visit to Orkney many years ago, one of the workers at Highland Park pointed out just how much heather is in the vicinity of the distillery and claimed, "Our water is the best in all of Scotland."

RegChumpington
04-28-2011, 09:57
All this discussion about Bunnahabhain 12 got me wondering how the "new" version, which upped the ABV to 46% and is non-chill filtered, tastes in comparison to the "older" green-bottled version (the new stuff comes in a brown bottle). Pity about the price jump, at least around here, but I'll be grabbing the brown-bottled stuff soon.

The general verdict I've heard was a more definite sherry influence than before. I don't think I've seen anyone prefer the old one to the new one either in reviews or on the various boards.

All in all, better for them to justify a price increase with an improved product than tarting up their packaging (as it appears Glenlivet is set to do with a press release today).

Bambusiero
04-29-2011, 01:48
I went 30+ years of adult life "knowing" I didn't like whisk(e)y, based on infrequent but repeated tastings of cheap American Bourbon. On a whim, I tried Scotch, and it was a whole new ballgame. I found a new love! Went for a while staying strictly in Scotch territory, and got used to the range.

With a new and expanded spirits taster, went back to (good this time) Bourbon. To me Bourbon, overall, is still not as nice as Scotch, overall. A couple I like, some I don't. However....

Bourbon re-set my Scotch taste buds and I started tasting peat (buried deep) in Scotches where I did not previously identify it. Fascinating!

Mark

LeoDLion
06-05-2011, 19:35
I have been imbibing on the heavy sherried whiskies for quite a while. These are like Abunadh, Glenfarclas, some Macallan and BenRiach. Lately I took a shot of Ardbeg which I have not had for quite a while. Man, was it sooo peaty I almost couldn't take it. And this is from a guy whose most favorite whisky is Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin- heavily peated whiskies.

The point I am making is that even though I have an acquired taste for such peated single malts, one can still "lose" that taste. I have to get my tongue and taste buds accustom to it again.

edo
06-06-2011, 06:02
I'm a big Islay peat and smoke fan. For years and years, I would never drink any scotch whisky by choice (if there was a choice, which there usually was). I tried it on the rocks a couple times (the way I used to drink bourbon back when) and it always tasted like cheap watery perfume. I don't even remember what I had ... Cutty Sark or some other blend probably.

Then I stalked the woman I'm married to now (pictured to your left :grin:) to Edinburgh. She was studying there, but on Christmas break. When I got there, it was cold, snowy and it got dark about 3:30 p.m..... so of course, we hit the pub. No question of ordering Wild Turkey, ... Glenmorangie 10 was the house special.

I ordered us a couple. You know, when in Rome or Edinb ...
(hell, before it was all over, I saw the Bay City Rollers play live in a bar :grin:, and even ate haggis :rolleyes:) But that first neat Glenmorangie in that pub with my baby was such an excellent Scotland experience.

In those days in Japan, imported whisky was too expensive to drink very often, but I'd pick up a bottle when I went through duty free from time to time.

My journey to the Islays went like this: Glenmorangie 10 --> Glenfiddich 12 --> Glenmorangie 10 a few times -->Talisker 10 (nostagia -we had visited the Isle of Skye in the dead of winter - but drank pub brew for some reason :rolleyes:) --> Highland Park 12 --> Dalwhinnie 15 --> Cragganmore, -->more Taliskers, ...

Then one day about three years ago, a colleague came into my office after hours and pulled out a new bottle of Laphroaig Cask Strength. He asked me if I liked Laphroaig, and I guessed maybe not so much, but if he was pouring ... He said it was going to taste like liquid wood, and that it said to cut it 2 parts water to 1 part LaphCS. I said I'd go get some water, he said forget it - we're not cutting it.

He was right. It was like liquid wood. Railroad tie came to mind. New creosote railroad tie. (As a young man, I'd laid track one summer.) Whew! ... "Good, eh?" he said, "okay, you can put in a drop of water to open it up, but just a drop." He pulled out a bottle of water. I'm a sucker for doing what I'm told when anyone other than an authority figure speaks with authority. Two drops of water.

The liquid railroad tie took on a hint of recently robbed pharmacy. ... ah, complexity. Not so hard to finish the pour. Poured another, just to make sure it really tasted like that on purpose, you know, to see if it was really supposed to taste like that. Second pour wasn't so shocking, the whole experience was becoming more interesting. Had another, and started to like something in there (the peat, ... ya think?). Slowly, slowly catchee monkey... Water? We don't need no stinking water!
...
He left my office with enough left for a couple good pours later. Leaving my car in the parking lot, I walked home alone in the cool crisp night under a million stars. Cleanest buzz I ever had.

Woke up the next morning feeling great!

Branched out to other Islays, and like them all, but that Laphroaig CS that first time,

Man!

Robmo, break out that bottle of Laphroaig with a friend or lover. Put on some good music, take your time, plan your attack and lay siege to it. I bet it'll be yours by the fourth pour.

Stu
06-06-2011, 08:35
Many years ago I thought Scotch tasted like someone had taken a bottle of Canadian Club, washed their socks in it, and sold it at a premium price. then one day a friend offered me Laphroaig and Lagavulin on the same day, I've been hooked ever since. My wife is a long time Scotch drinker but hated the Islay malts. When we were in Scotland and toured Laphroaig, it was a muggy day and they were peating the malt. We got out of the car into a heavy black smog and she said she didn't know if she'd be able to tour without getting sick. To make a long story short, by the time we left the malting room she was licking the walls saying "where's that creosote smell I hate so much"? Personally I love the heavy, woody, peaty, taste of seaweed and iodine but I admit it takees some getting used to for a lot of people, and some never get used to it. I used to think my wife would never get used to it, but now her favorite whisky is Ardbeg.

LeoDLion
06-09-2011, 08:34
Many years ago I thought Scotch tasted like someone had taken a bottle of Canadian Club, washed their socks in it, and sold it at a premium price. then one day a friend offered me Laphroaig and Lagavulin on the same day, I've been hooked ever since. My wife is a long time Scotch drinker but hated the Islay malts. When we were in Scotland and toured Laphroaig, it was a muggy day and they were peating the malt. We got out of the car into a heavy black smog and she said she didn't know if she'd be able to tour without getting sick. To make a long story short, by the time we left the malting room she was licking the walls saying "where's that creosote smell I hate so much"? Personally I love the heavy, woody, peaty, taste of seaweed and iodine but I admit it takees some getting used to for a lot of people, and some never get used to it. I used to think my wife would never get used to it, but now her favorite whisky is Ardbeg.
Atta girl, your wife. Mine will take a shot once in a while but with plenty of ice. Ugh.

LeoDLion
06-09-2011, 08:38
Nice story, Edo. I had Laph cs and although its high alcohol content is strong at first, it gets better after a shot (as you experienced). Another cask strength single malt is Arran made from the Island of Arran.

bigtoys
07-10-2011, 17:25
didn't read through all the replies, but Isle of Jura's Prophecy has a nice, but not too strong, peaty character. For a lighter Islay, try Bowmore. Personally, I don't like Ardbeg or Laphroig, but I really like Lagavulin and Bowmore. I find Talisker a little more smoky than peaty.
http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/ee132/bigtoys335/f6de7396.jpg