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  1. #1
    Moderator and Bourbonian Of The Year 2014
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    Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    I'm looking for something to get my Dad for Christmas.
    He regularly (daily) drinks Walker Red or Chivas Reagle.
    Last year I got him a bottle of Walker Green Label, and for his birthday this year, I got hom a 1992 Glenrothes which he absolutely loves. As we were reading Jim Murrays Whisky Bible and discussing the different scotch regions one night, he mentioned he'd never tried a seaside version.
    I'd narrowed a selection down to either a Laphroaig 10yo, Ardbeg 10yo or Bowmore 10yo - all retail for around $60-70 in Australia.
    Does anyone have any recommendations or suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    Hi Cameron, I personally love Laphroaig (in all it's expressions). The 10yo is a regular pour for me. That said, most people are put off by the intense iodine, peat smoke and salt (yes, it's salty! Two glasses of Laphroaig and you'll wake up tasting salt on your lips the next day!). It takes me back to my youth working offshore. I don't know anyone who's grown to love Laphroaig. They either think it's just wonderful (me) or they think it should be used to clean grease from their garage floor I would not buy Laphroaig for someone who has never tried it and declared it to be amazingly good.

    Ardbeg is very good. To me not quite as intense (but many find that is "better"). It would be a good selection.

    One you left off is Lagavulin 16yo. (another Islay malt) This has a lot of the sea and peat qualities of Laphroaig but is (to me) it's a much more sophisticated pour. Because of that it is more approachable. Laphroaig and Lagavulin are my only regular Scotchs. One is the bad boy and one is the gentleman. Which fits your dads personality??

    By the way, you say seaside, but we are talking Islay (pronounced isle-la by the way, not isle-laye) here. There are several other "sea side" malts from Jura the Orkneys and such. They are good but no where near the intensity of the better Islay malts (again, to me).

    Let us know what you pick.

    Ken

  3. #3
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    Cameron, you have a good short list already! I always have Ardbeg 10, Lagavulin 16 and Laphroaig 10 (cask strength, 57.3%) open and all are great, in peaty, yet different, ways. My difficult choice would be Ardbeg 10: very balanced, lots of peat, yet the sweet barley malt taste is not overwhelmed. Just astoundlingly good! Lagavulin 16 is arguably the finest peat and sherry combo routinely sold by any distillery, and it is even smoky smelling: you can enjoy its nose before the glass is anywhere near your face. Exquisite! And all the Laphroaigs (the standard 10 YO, the 10 YO cask strengths (57.3% and 55.4%), the 15 YO, the new Quarter Cask, etc.) are what peat wants to be when it gets to Heaven. Fabulous whisky that makes no apologies for its full bore taste.

    The Bowmore 10 is not available around here, but we have the 12 YO, which is very good, the 17 YO, which is a favorite of mine, and lots of other Bowmores are available, with all sorts of names and ages. A new 16 YO, from 1989, is just becoming available and it has started to get good rewiews. I'm looking forward to trying it before too long.

    Other good choices are Caol Ila 12, 18 or cask strength, Ledaig 15, Talisker 10 or 18 (or others), some Juras (as Ken said), Longrow 10 ($$), some Broras ($$$), some Port Ellens ($$$) and a scattering of others. There are independent bottlings of all of these, as well, and some are fantastic.

    Personally, I'd go with the Ardbeg 10.

    It would be interesting to see if your dad likes Laphroaig 10: I'll bet he does.

    Cheers, Ed V.

    One last thing: I have never gotten any saltiness in any whisky or whiskey and I've looked for it whenever I heard a whisk(e) had it. Funny how taste works.

  4. #4
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    Cameron, the advice you have hitherto (is that a word?) received is very good. To try an "island" style malt, might I suggest something that is typical of the style but not extreme (ie. Laphroaig. The bowmore is a great place to start (the 17 y.o. is a fantastic expression). The Ardbeg is very good and an awesome malt. The Laphroaig is really great too, but perhaps more "cultish" if you know what I mean, in that it is perhaps an extreme. That is to say, it might scare him away from many other good Island malts.

    If you can find Talisker (10 is common, 18 less common but fantastic) that is from the Isle of Skye and is this lad's favorite malt.

    Another suggestion, and closer to the Glenrothes... Try a Highland Park from the Orkneys (ideally the 18yo if you can get it cheap but the 12 is a fantastic dram)

    Whatever you do, enjoy your father's company... and make sure he opens the bottle in your presence so you get to enjoy it with him!

  5. #5
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    I'll echo what others have already said, and recommend the Ardbeg out of those three, but for the following reason: Both Bowmore and Laphroaig have very distinctive flavors that give them a love-it-or-hate-it character. From your post, it sounds like your dad wants to try a peated Scotch, and for his first experience with heavy peat, it would probably be best to start with something that's not quite so...polarizing. Ardbeg is an excellend whisky with a strong peat character. If he likes that, then he may want to try Laphroaig and/or Bowmore, but those are both whiskys that, based on personal preference, a person may hate regardless of whether he does or doesn't like peated whisky.

    By saying this I don't mean to criticize Laphroaig, which personally I like, or to in any way suggest that Ardbeg is not a great and distinctive whisky, which it is. But even the most ardent Laphroaig supporter will (if he's honest) admit that it's not for everybody.

    Lagavulin is also excellent but unfortunately in the last year or so its popularity has outstripped supplies (they ran out of 16yo completely a year or so ago) and it has almost doubled in price lately, so it's probably not in the same category as the others you listed. Ditto Bowmore 17yo. And, Bowmore takes a while to really come into its own; I would not start somebody on Islay whisky with a younger Bowmore.

    So out of those three (Laphroaig 10yo, Ardbeg 10yo, Bowmore 10yo) I think Ardbeg is definitely the one you want, for someone's first experience with peated Islay Scotch. However, a couple others that should be in the same price range and will give a similar experience would be Caol Ila 12yo and Isle of Jura "Superstition". The regular Isle of Jura is not peated, but the "Superstition" in the black box is, and it's pretty good. Talisker 10yo is another one in the same price range, but my recollection of Talisker was that it was a bit of a put-hair-on-your-chest rough tough spirit. For my money, the Ardbeg is a better whisky than any of those others, but YMMV.

  6. #6
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    I agree here that as far as a peated Islay is concerned the Ardbeg is an excellent choice. However when the term seaside is used the malt that comes to my mind is Bunnahabhain. It's an all-but-unpeated malt from Islay and shows off a great seaside briny, salty flavor.

  7. #7
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    As already mentioned by Dave, I would go for the Highland Park 18yo unless the price tag is too outrageous downunder.

    In the Island division, this whisky simply stomps all over the opposition. Thereīs peat, alright, but not overwhelmingly so. You can clearly detect a sherry influence but it never threatens to drench the other flavours, and above all, a truly delicious honey.

    Maybe Iīm making myself guilty of reading too much between the lines, Cam, but from what youīve written I draw the conclusion that this is the one for your father. But maybe it isnīt even available in Australia?

    P.S Iīve have never heard of a 10yo Bowmore. Is this an antipodean exclusive?

  8. #8
    Moderator and Bourbonian Of The Year 2014
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions

    I think the Ardbeg is the best way to go - not a huge peat influence, but enough to get an idea of whether Dad likes it or not.... If he wants to try more peat, then we'll look at the Bowmore or Laproaig...

    As already mentioned by Dave, I would go for the Highland Park 18yo unless the price tag is too outrageous downunder.
    <snip>
    But maybe it isnīt even available in Australia?

    P.S Iīve have never heard of a 10yo Bowmore. Is this an antipodean exclusive?
    The Highland Park 18yo is available in Australia, but it's a bit expensive at around $165 (The 12yo is more in line with the price range I'm looking at - $60)

    Actually, maybe I miss-read the Bowmore - it could be the 12yo that I spotted in the shop

  9. #9
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    However, a couple others that should be in the same price range and will give a similar experience would be Caol Ila 12yo and Isle of Jura "Superstition". The regular Isle of Jura is not peated, but the "Superstition" in the black box is, and it's pretty good.
    I've had my eye out for a bottle of Superstition for a while but it hasn't shown up yet. Has anyone seen this in Ohio???


    Ken

  10. #10
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    Re: Looking for a Seaside or Peat scotch

    I would go for the Bowmore, probably the Bowmore 17 or the new Bowmore 16, cask strength.

    Right in the middle of the peat scale on Islay.

 

 

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