Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lagavulin 16

After the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, I had a dram of the Lagavulin 16. This may be the best-aged Islay I have ever tasted. Each other Islay I have tried was either a 10 (Ardbeg, Laphroaig) or a 12 (Bowmore, Caol Ila). Other scotch from the islands were in the same league with respect to age (Talisker 10, Jura 10). The only two exceptions were the abysmal Trader Joe's Bowmore 18, which tastes watered down and nowhere near 18 years old, and the Laphroaig 15, which is solid, but still prickly.

Immediately upon nosing the Lagavulin, the smell of oak emerged; this is rare in an islay, where the smell of peat usually overtakes any other smell. Upon taking a sip, the complexity of flavors surprised me. An Islay with more to offer than a handful of peat? Yes, Scotchytime fans. I did not taste the "bite" to which I referred in my previous post regarding Laphroaig. As its label declares, Lagavulin "Takes out the fire but leaves in the warmth." Well done, Lagavulin. If you are a diehard peat fan, you may favor more of the direct approach, with a Talisker 10 or an Ardbeg 10. But if you seek a more subtle peat flavor with a pronounced oak taste, the Lagavulin is your scotch. However, the cost (over $60), may keep a casual scotchyfan from this gem.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Yesterday, I acquired a Laphroaig Quarter Cask and a Lagavulin 16. Both are stellar. I tried the Laphroaig QC, then the Lagavulin. I rate the QC well higher than Laphroaig's 10-year expression. It still has a sharp phenolic taste and quite a bite. However, it tastes sweeter than the 10-year. The heavy peat taste remains, but the medicinal taste does not contribute so strongly to the finish. The smell of old rubber is minimal compared to the 10-year. This scotch still tastes quite young. There is a spicy, raw taste that can be minimized with some aging. My only reservation is that the QC costs about $50, where the the Laphroaig 10 can commonly be found at around $30.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Recenteats' Famous Grouse Review

Check out my pal Sku's review of Famous Grouse scotch. I know it's a blend, Scotchytime fans, but it's worth reading for the discussion of the Highland Park included in the blend. This is part of the Recenteats "whiskey Wednesday" series.

List of Scotchdoc "approved" scotch retail outlets

Here. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco has a good showing. Southern California, on the other hand, needs to step it up. Hitimewine in Costa Mesa is all we have.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Signatory Caol Ila 1992

Whilst searching the Bevmo website this interested me. Has anyone ever tried this? It seems so nondescript, it must be delicious.

Beverage Tasting Institute

Here is a link to the Beverage Tasting Institute's website, which rates scotch, among other spirits. These guys like that Highland Park stuff. The older the better. A surprise to me is the Tasting Institute's affinity for the much less expensive Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask and the Dalmore Cigar Malt. Conspicuously absent is the Lagavulin 16, which according to the Bevmo website received a 99 from the Tasting Institute. However, I can't find the Lagavulin 16 rating on the Tasting Institute's site.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Laphroaig 15 review

Disclaimer: my palate was a bit muddled when I enjoyed this last weekend. However, I was immediately able to tell the difference between the 10-year expression. The oak taste in the 15 is unmistakable. The peat is more measured. The phenols were delicate, not overpowering like in the 10-year. It is a more complex scotch with a deeper, richer color and flavor than the 10.

For a second opinion, I turn to one of the Scotch All-Stars. Here is his assessment verbatim: ". . . I've remembered the official tasting notes for the Laphroaig 15. It tastes like awesome. You can quote me on the blog."

Here it is in a glass:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Brief History of Ardbeg

An informative read.

Digital Photographic Picture Taking Machine Apparatus

Yes, Scotchytime fans. I have acquired a DPPTMA (Digital Photographic Picture Taking Machine Apparatus). Let the blurry scotchypics flow.

Ardbeg Committee

I recently became a member of this highly discriminating committee. For free. Via their website. The cover of the rule book and a part of the letter follow:

The material Ardbeg sent me was impressive. Included were: a booklet of tasting notes, a "rule book", drinking songs, Scottish sayings and other generally funny stuff. Sign up at their website here. The rest of their site is entertaining as well.

Caol Ila 12: Not Pungent. . .

A Scotch All-Star and I noted this on the bottle of Caol Ila 12 a few weeks ago. I refer to the "not as pungent" as our neighbors part. Amusing. To me.