For our next whisky review we are jumping on the ferry and heading over to the isle of Islay. Islay is renowned for its peaty whiskies, and today we will be taking a look at what is one of the most heavily peated whiskies out there, the infamous Laphroaig, 10yo. (Pronounced La-Froyg).
Laphroaig is one of the better known of the Islay distilleries, likely due to its ‘unique’ style, when you think of Islay, or smoky whiskies, it is usually one of the first to come to mind. Officially established in 1815, on the south coast of Islay, Laphroaig have been producing their heavily peated style of whisky for just over 200 years now. Owned by Suntory Beam Inc. the majority of their whisky is matured in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels from the Makers Mark distillery (also owned by Suntory Beam Inc.) in Kentucky. These first-fill barrels, as well as all the sea air and the huge blasting of peat smoke make for a very interesting dram, so let’s get stuck in!
Wow, well erm, yeah, that’s Laphroaig. If you have ever experience Laphroaig before then you’ll know what I’m on about, if not…you should try it at least once. Immediately there is just a huge punch of peat smoke that just blows your face off, love it! It’s just a fantastically pungent smoke; medicinal-peat, bonfires, burning rubber and seaweed. Once you get past the smoke there is a sweetness, plenty of vanilla, some fudge, then lightly toasted oak and salted roast peanuts galore.
On the palate again you are just immediately overwhelmed by bellows of smoke, fires and seaweed which linger. It’s also fairly spicy, with pepper, chilli and nutmeg. It is a very spirit driven whisky, with not a huge amount of influence from the cask, but that spirit is just so, so good! Burning seaweed is probably the best way to describe it – smoky, vegetal, smoky and slightly salty, oh, and smoky.
The finish is medium in length and is just a continuation of that lovely, heavy peat smoke. There’s smouldering peat, rubber and a dusting of salt and pepper.
Ok, so we’ll come straight out and say it, this whisky definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you like it you will love it. Once you’ve had it once and you know what to expect you will definitely be going back for more. It’s the perfect dram for just relaxing after dinner in front of the fire with, you have to take your time with Laphroaig, you can’t just knock it back. We got our bottle on sale for £25, and you can get it on sale fairly frequently, it usually comes in at around £35 but if you shop around you will find it for less. We’d recommend trying it, at least once, even if it is just to experience it.
Gary & Steven