Sunday, March 07, 2004

Laphroaig (La-froyg) 10yo

Last night I had the opportunity to sample a wee dram o' my first purchase of a bottle of scotch. I went up to my local Liquor Mart yesterday and was pleasently surprised to find that they had a reasonable selection of single-malt whiskys. I purchased a bottle of Laphroaig 10yo to replace my dwindling bottle of Glenfiddich 12yo. I knew that I wanted an Islay malt from my experience with the Ardbeg 10yo and 17yo that I have tried at the Bull and Bush and the Lagavulin 10yo included in the "Classic Malts" set. I set about preparing myself for the tasting yesterday afternoon, doing some research and coming across the excellent website This website features a "virtual" distillery tour which I highly recommend you check out. I knew I was in for a treat with the description of the peaty and seaweedy flavours that a dram of Laphroaig is supposed to impart. It did not dissappoint!

The moment arrived last night after a hearty dinner. I poured myself a glass and marvelled at how viscous the liquid was compared to the glenfiddich. In the glass (I use a tulip shaped nosing glass from Riedel crystal for my tastings), the scotch was surprisingly dark for such a young malt, with an almost green tint to the liquid. I added a few drops of filtered water and nosed the whisky a few times. I was greeted with the wonderful smoky aroma that I have come to love from Islay whiskys. It always reminds me of a campfire, or more specifically, the way your clothes smell after being next to a campfire for a few days. Technically, it is a phenolic aroma, so named for the compounds that give this smell (I'm a chemist by training so I can appreciate this term), but I prefer the term peat reek as it strikes me as more poetic, and more appropriate for a drink that is far from science and more of an art form. I took a good swig of the scotch and swirled it around in my mouth, trying to extract as much of the flavouring as I could. First I was hit by the smoky flavour, but this faded away quickly and was replaced by an almost bitter sensation in the back of my mouth. I have not experienced this flavour as dramatically as this in the Ardbeg, but immediately I recognized it as the salt air/seaweed taste that this brand is renowned for. If you have ever been to the ocean, there is that smell in the air of aeresolized sea salt and rotting seaweed that has washed ashore. It is an unmistakable scent, one that I will never forget as I love the ocean, and it has made it's mark in this drink. I can see why some people would not like this flavour, but for me it was like coming home. My two great loves in one drink: the mountain campfire, and the ocean breeze. Poetic. I know I may seem to be laying it on a bit thick here, but if you have ever tried a proper tasting of single malt scotch, then you know where I'm coming from. Needless to say I enjoyed this one to the last drop. That's it for today, I am sure that in the future I will discover more in this drink, and there will be more malts to try. I look forward to the writing as much as the tasting. Cheers!

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