Laphroaig 10 Yr: 43% abv
Cue the epic music, ladies and gentlemen. We’ve got it here for you. Our first peated Scotch review. This is already a point of contention, before I even start writing this review. Peated Scotch is a completely different animal than its non-peated counterparts, so there was some hesitation about posting the review. Peated Malts can be complex and hard to handle, and we didn’t want to do it disservice.
So what is a peated Scotch, first of all? Peat is a moss, found in Scotland in rainier areas, used as a fuel source. The history behind peat moss is an interesting one. One characteristic of it is that it burns slow, so it is a good source for heating homes. Due to economic strife, distillers in the Isle of Islay turned to peat to dry their barley in the malting process, but this generally added a strong smokey flavor to the whiskies. Peated whisky has been regarded as so medicinal tasting, that people got away with selling it during prohibition because it wasn’t regarded as drinkable for pleasure.
Now this is somewhat of a trend for Islay distillers, so now we have some pretty unique whiskies on the market. This was actually my first bottle of peated Single Malt, because it is known to be one of the more heavily peated whiskies in mass production right now as a brand. So what is peat like? Think of a campfire. That smell is sort of what you’ll taste. And we’ll get more into that. Here are some tasting notes for the 10 year Laphroaig.
On the nose, you’ll get exactly what I just described. A campfire peatiness, with ashy wood in direct contact. Beyond this, you’ll find salty notes of seaweed and sea water. This is counteracted by the sweet barley smell and wheat, some slight vanilla, and some lemon scent. The challenge in dealing with a peated whisky is working past the peat notes to further understand what makes the whisky unique.
The arrival presents briny sea salt, vegetal flavors, seaweed, but even some sweet melon, vanilla, molasses, and a hint of slight apple. The taste leads some bigger, more complex notes, including peat smoke, barley, malt, salt, sweet light melon, honey flavors, and some sugar. After adding water, there is a sweet breadiness to the whisky, with rye, and mild spices. The finish is big in this whisky, and will linger with you for a while. Notes include seaweed, sea salt, vegetal flavors, slight olive oil, slight maltiness, dark peat, ashy taste, sugar, sweet fruits, black pepper big smokiness, menthol, subtle medicinal notes, and charred oak. This finish is oddly very uninhibited by the addition of water.
So in general, this is a BIG flavored whisky, with a surprisingly calm arrival, thin body, and a huge finish. It is well blended in its array of flavors. It is important to note that Islay Scotches generally provoke descriptors that are a little more obscure or maybe bizarre to the normal drinker. This might include notes like engine oil, phenol, and we’ve even heard once “greasy rope”. Don’t let this drive you away from tasting one of these whiskies. We are going to stay away from these descriptors because we generally aren’t chewing on greasy ropes. Imagine that...So this is a great whisky.