There’s no distillery more Scottish, more manly, than Laphroaig (la-froyg) on the isle of Islay (eye-lah). Laphroaig is over 200 years old and, from their marketing photos, so is the average age of their employees. And it’s those grumpy old souls who keep the distillery ticking along using time-tested, traditional methods, from malting floors to on-site coopers and of course – their legendary peat kilns.
The Laphroaig 10 is their entry-level and most highly regarded expression – one of those venerable peat monsters your mother warned you about. The humble bottle with its spartan packaging regularly dominates competitions all around the world – let’s crack it open:
The cork is barely out the bottle before your nostrils are bombarded with peat. Wowza. Big smoke, grass and moss. Something sulphuric – like burnt matches. Sea sand, shells. Bananas. Very light vegetable smell – floral and herbal. A slight whiff of raisins and citrus at the back.
Intense – very surprised this isn’t stronger than 43%, and takes a fair amount of willpower to just let it sit on the palette. Smoky as hell – like an out-of-control bushfire. Charcoal. Earthy. Well rounded, but I’ve got to be honest – apart from the peat there’s not much happening here for me!
The Laphroaig 10 holds water really well… at least on the nose, where the citrus rises to the surface. But in terms of taste, it loses that tidy presentation and breaks up quickly. Brave the intensity and drink it neat!
Another whisky I wanted to love. Firstly, to confirm my manliness. Secondly, at very least, to gain street cred with the malt snobs. And while I enjoy heavily peated whiskies, I need them to offer something more than just their peat schtick – I want to taste the fruity flavours of the actual malt, or the interesting properties of the cask(s). Unfortunately, to me, Laphroaig 10 is all peat and no interest. It’s not bad whisky – far from it – but there’s no way I’d pick this over a bottle of Ardbeg or Port Charlotte, particularly at this price.