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 ) 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 , and even ate haggis ) 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 ) --> 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,
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.