Whisky and Words Number 18: Laphroaig 10

The label says it all
The label says it all

Ah, Laphroaig. They advertise themselves as “The most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies” on their website and on their bottle (at right). And when they say ‘flavour’ they mean smoke, peat, seaweed and iodine. Oh, there’s malt in there, too. Quite a bit actually.

I think Laphroaig is great for chasing mothers-in-law from the room. Just crack open a bottle, pour a little, and the more delicate souls will run for the hills. If you’ve never had this whisky, this superlative might get the message across. During the U.S. Prohibition, Laphroaig whisky was (famously) still being imported to the U.S., as “Such was the pungent seaweedy nose of Laphroaig that Ian persuaded the officials that the “Iodine” smell surely meant that Laphroaig had medical properties.”

Medicinal is one of the words used to express what folks taste in this whisky, but despite the billows of smoke, peat, iodine and phenolics, Laphroaig 10 is a quite well-balanced whisky. The malt that hits your palate at first is full, sweet and well-rounded, forming a pleasant base for the tar and iodine to expand into your nasal cavities and sinuses. So, too  are the medicinal aspects balanced. Medicinal, yes, but there is much more going on than that — I never would compare this to Caol Ila 12, for example (review coming) which I do think of medicinal.

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Whisky Battle of the Sub-Jacksons: Cutty Sark, Duggan’s Dew, Grant’s, Ballantine’s

Alright, we’re all not driving Ferraris and eating at Shanghai Shanghai every day. Some of us punters have to grab a value whisky now and then. Usually, my bottom line is Teachers, which at a 45% malt blend is a pretty solid pick. But that’s more than a double-deucer here in Oregon ($22). More on that battle later. This entry is a test of what sub-$20 whiskies will leave you wanting more, vs. going for the Altoids to clean the horrid burnt-rubber taste out of your mouth (I’m looking at you, Old Smuggler).

What I expect

What I am expecting is drinkable blends one could enjoy in a mix that doesn’t overwhelm. I don’t mix cola with scotch, for example, but I might do soda. There has to be some taste to the scotch, else why not use rum, it’s cheaper still. So, these have to have something going for them. I also expect there to be an inverse relationship between advertising budget and taste. Why? At these prices, they can’t have their cake and eat it too. Either their cost basis is in Sportsman Afield adverts or in the bottle.

What I was hoping for was to find that these could be contenders for a sip neat now and then. Who knows, we might get lucky.

The contenders

This is an interesting bunch. We have a big name, which comes with the biggest price (and biggest advertising budget), a whisky I’d never heard of until I started researching Monkey Shoulder, and another I’ve never seen even on the web. It’s a dark horse, for sure.

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