Islay 2016 Trip Blog #2

11 Sep 2016

Nine days now. Guess we should backtrack a little, yeah?

Getting a third solo trip off in a matter of a few years is not an easy thing. Marriage and kids means compromise and buckets of understanding. Oh…and likely some serious spa time or something as recompense. I won’t get into the actual negotiation process here, but suffice it to say that some conditions needed to be met in order to make this happen as regards the homefront. Once we had that squared away it was time to start tackling logistics.  I should mention (and not because I have to) that my wife is beyond amazing.  Honestly.

First things first. September is a great time to visit Islay. The weather is mild; the crowds non-existent; personal attention at the distilleries at soaring heights; and the overall experience less geared toward the masses and more…specialized in many ways. While all of these things are incentive enough to travel at this time, the reality is I go to Islay not just for the malts. For me it is a disconnect from the ‘real world’. When I get tired of being an adult and simply need to let my mind turn to simpler things I know it’s time to go back ‘home’.

Locking down accommodations early on the island is paramount. That and travel arrangements. The distilleries are unquestionably the most flexible part of the trip. In fact each time over I’ve booked, then rebooked, then sometimes made third adjustments to either the tours themselves or the dates and times for each. I always start by roughing out an idea as to when I’ll hit each distillery, then figuring out the most logical base from which to operate.  As Bowmore is most central, most of my time is spent there.

We four (whom I’ll introduce in the next blog) arrive in Scot(ch)land on the morning of the 20th. We land in Glasgow at about 8:00 am.  Plans are to leave our luggage at the hotel (right across the way from the airport), find a quick breakie and head to Auchentoshan for the first of ten distillery visits on this little pilgrimage. Not sure what the afternoon plans entail, but the eve will most likely see a reunion with an old friend, Mark Connelly, at the famous Bon Accord whisky bar. This will be a test of willpower, to say the least. Early plans are to be on somewhat good behavior, in order to be fresh for an early start and 8:30 am flight to Islay. Not to mention we’ll have been on the go for a day and a half (or more, unless the lads can sleep on our flights) without sleep by this point.

Day two sees us land at Islay’s itsy bitsy airport at 9:10 am and head straight from there to Kilchoman. Perhaps we’ll do a drive by the Lochindaal Hotel in Port Charlotte to drop our bags before spending the morning at Islay’s micro distillery. We’ll have a quick lunch at the distillery’s wonderful café after the Premium Tour, then beeline it straight for Bruichladdich to meet up with my mate, Allan Logan. Plans are to spend the afternoon with the good folks in teal until they finally tire of our hijinks and send us packing for Port Charlotte. At that point…dinner and drinks at the Lochindaal.

Day three: Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila. In other words, the redheaded stepchild, northeastern part of the island. If visitors to the island need to shortlist their distillery hitlist these are typically the first two casualties. Truly a shame that folks would elect to skip these ones, as both are situated on some of the most beautiful of the island’s terrain. Bunna is an absolutely stunning old relic and Caol Ila is a lumbering beast that helps put distilleries like Kilchoman, Ardbeg and Bruichladdich in proper perspective (though all for different reasons). Bunna will be the Dram Tour, while Caol Ila will be the Premium Tour.  Both, in my humble opinion, also produce some of the whisky world’s most underrated malts.

Day four: We’ll be leaving Port Charlotte, and the familial comfort of Iain and Katie’s Lochindaal Hotel, in order to make Bowmore our home base for the duration of the trip. We’ll have breakfast with Iain before taxiing around the loch to drop our bags at Meadowside Bed and Breakfast (the wonderful home-y lodging of my friend Kate McAffer), and then continuing on to Ardbeg. The tours/experiences we initially hoped for at Ardbeg sadly became obsolete during the planning process. I emailed back and forth with some friends at the distillery and it looks like we’ll have a special day lined up for us irrespective of initial disappointment. Just what that actually means…who knows? We’re happy to play it by ear though, and trust in the folks with the keys to the kingdom (Jackie, Mickey et al). We’ll do lunch at the Old Kiln Café and spend the afternoon soaking up the atmosphere (and drams).  This eve should see our first foray to the legendary Duffies whisky bar in Bowmore.

Day five: Hitting the water to venture across to neighbouring Jura. Just so happens that for the third time my journey coincides with the Jura music festival. This time we’ll be there to check out some of the festivities after we take part in the upgraded Sweet And Smoky Experience at the distillery. We’ll scout a bit of this deer-riddled isle (standing stones, the house that Orwell brought to fame, the Paps, Corryvreckan?) before back to Bowmore for evening drinks and din.

Day six: One of the island’s most amazing places: Laphroaig. This distillery is utterly beautiful and run with such profound attention to detail and obvious love that it is unquestionably palpable when you visit. It’s also arguable I tend to linger ‘round Laphroaig longer when I visit Islay than at any other distillery. We’ll be doing the Distiller’s Wares tour. Two and half hours of boggy bliss. At the end of the formal bit of the tour we’ll be doing some cask sampling and bottling our own souvenir to bring home. Cannae wait.

The evening will see us touring the southern part of the island, before drowning our livers at Duffies.

Day seven: Lagavulin. Unfortunately we just had the rug pulled out from under us again. We had booked and confirmed for a 9:30 am tour, followed by a warehouse tasting with (I believe) Lagavulin legend, Iain MacArthur. And much like last time over, the distillery has gotten back to me to cancel the tour, as they’re entering silent season for distillery maintenance. We’ll still get the warehouse deal, but will not get to scout around the stills and such. I’m trying to negotiate, but not really optimistic. Sigh. Diageo is nothing if not rigid and set in their path.  Kinda think there should be a contingency plan on behalf of the company in these sorts of cases, as many people make this a once-in-a-lifetime trip and to be rebuffed…well…let’s just say it sucks.

Again we’ll spend the evening touring, but the northern part of the island this time. And perhaps a visit to Islay’s brewery, Islay Ales, to sample some of the local grog.  I’m sure a few cold ones will be welcome after the fiery heat of peated drams thus far.

Day eight: Last day on the island, and what a way to go out. We’re booked for the Craftsman’s Tour at Bowmore. Quite a finale, this is one of the most impressive of the island’s tours available to visitors and malt lovers. A visit to the Number 1 Vaults is icing on the cake for any Islay trip. There’s no way we were missing this opportunity. I’ll save details for later, but trust me…this experience is a magical one.

We’ll fly out at about 6:00 pm and try to take in a little more of Glasgow before a morning flight on the 28th takes us back to our loved ones and familiar beds. I imagine it will be much like the Spirit Of The West song by this point: “You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best, I’ve been gone for a week, I’ve been drunk since I left, And these so-called vacations will soon be my death, I’m so sick from the drink, I need home for a rest.”

There are many, many details planned along the way (and some very special drams), but I’ll save those jottings for the day to day entries after it’s all gone down. Cause let’s face it…things change. You can bet, however, that our eves will be spent in the pubs, our bellies will be filled with great home fare (both malts and meals), our days will be spent walking the coastlines and sharing drams and that there will be some sheep that may want to go into hiding when they hear the first loud ‘eh’ from we sodden Canucks. 😉

And yes…I still have a bit of a reveal coming for ya. Just waiting on finalization, but should be able to share the word in a couple days at the latest. If all goes as I hope, there will be some cool shit coming. Fingers crossed.

More details to come, friends.

 

 – Curt

31 thoughts on “Islay 2016 Trip Blog #2

    1. Chris 1

      You’re killing me, Curt. I can practically taste that fabulous smoked mackerel soup at the Old Kiln. Goes great with any dram of Ardbeg. Have a great trip, and dedicate a dram to the faithful stuck here at home. Slainte!

      Reply
  1. Shawn

    When you’re at Laphroaig, can you ask them how much salt is in their whisky??

    http://www.economist.com/node/372859

    That article is from 1998, and I just tried some 10yo cask strength Laphroaig which I have to say tastes a lot like sea water. It’s so salty I can almost feel the grains of salt in my mouth. And it left me feeling a bit sick to my stomach after one dram.

    I’m just wondering if it’s ok to drink the amount of salt in this whisky or if it should be listed on the container in “Nutritional Information”. For some people it could actually represent a hazard to their health.

    Any way, I appreciate any information you can garner, I may have to start asking around in the right circles here in the USA to get nutritional labels on whisky, specifically Scotch, due to the potential danger of unknowingly consuming excess salt in one’s diet.

    Reply
    1. kallaskander

      Hi there,

      even if whisky tastes salty you will not find any salt in it.

      Not even if you made it with sea water. The salt would be lost during distillation.

      If a whisky tastes salty or maritime it is all in your head. But I enjoy that as much
      as you probably do.

      Greetings
      kallaskander

      Reply
        1. kallaskander

          Hi there,

          more speed maturing? What scientists do in their labs….

          Diageo packed cases in cling-foil to reduce the angel’s share.

          Too bad the casks stopped breathing as well and the whisky was… weird.

          The Scotch Whisky Rules of 2009 and the EC rules for whisky – essentially the same – say barley water and yeast during production and unfortunately caramel next to water during bottling and nothing else is allowed for producing Scotch whisky.

          I think it is wasted time to muse what can go wrong if you put salt in a cask of maturing whisky. If you overdo it, how will you get it out again? and so on.

          At the moment I’d say we are save from manipulations like that.

          Not that the ever greedy whisky industry would mind if they could cheat us in such a way, mind you!

          Greetings
          kallaskander

          Reply
        2. Chris 1

          “Experimented” is the operative word there and I’m quite sure that’s as far as it got. If the regulators won’t allow Glaser to put extra oak staves in his casks, they sure as hell aren’t going to allow salt. NAS=No Added Salt.

          Reply
      1. Shawn

        LOL.

        I just want to know if I’m drinking salt or not. I think its a fair question. I have gone swimming many times in the ocean and I know what salt water has a grainy feel and thats exactly how that whisky feels.

        Many drinks have salt, but this is very salted, it really does remind of salt water, and as you might know, salt water isn’t safe for human consumption.

        Are you ok with possibly being poisoned by an industry hell bent on deception?

        There’s a reason we got nutritional labels on everything, because companies can and will do anything to get customers to buy their product. You can make all the laws you want but if it’s not written on the box in black and white, then there’s a way to wriggle out of it. You really have to make them commit to the lie, then sue the shit out of them all.

        It’s interesting that the government taxes the shit out of liquor but haven’t done the logical, demanded to know whats in the bottle and made them put it on the label.

        I will say this though, it’s good to know that humans everywhere boil down to being greedy little shits.

        Reply
        1. Bruce

          Conspiracy theories aside, nutritional information would be useful on everything, including Scotch. Say, how many calories are in it?

          Personally I doubt that they add salt to the whisky. First, anything you add costs money. Second, why wreck your whisky? (Ask Macallan that…)

          However, some whiskies are known for a salty flavour (Islays, Springbank) for a number of reasons around peat and maturation. It would be interesting to see the sodium content of various Scotches.

          Reply
          1. Chris 1

            There is no salt added to Scotch whisky. As kallaskander pointed out, the rules are very clear on what the only allowable components of Scotch whisky are. You know what is in the whisky. What you don’t know much of the time is the age of the constituent malts.

            I agree with Bruce; it would be good to have some nutritional information on the label, just as is required by law on every other type of food and beverage.

            Shawn, if you are getting a salty taste that you don’t like from Laphroaig, try something else. Rest assured, they don’t add salt. Talisker has a peppery taste but certainly not because they add pepper. Salt, pepper and malt vinegar are for fish and chips, not whisky.

            Cheers.

          2. Jeff

            Yeah, I just thought it was funny that the writer has the Scotch Whisky Research Institute doing experiments with salt without mentioning that said experiments would disqualify the spirit from being sold as scotch – and it almost reads like someone expects NaCl to help circumvent three year minimum maturation.

          3. Shawn

            @Chris,

            I would be surprised if they don’t add salt – somehow. I accept they don’t literally take a scoop of salt and dump it in the whisky, but is there a more round about way of arriving at that result, in a form of wishful thinking, that skirts the exact meaning of the law while still essentially adding said ingredients?

            Many companies use sherry casks, which is accepted, but this is basically an added ingredient.

            I’ve heard via youtube that in the past companies even aged scotch in barrels used for herring, no doubt that would impart some salt to the flavor.

            I’ve recently become aware of something called a “wet fill” where spirit is stored in a previously used sherry cask that is still wet on the inside with the previous contents.

            So, IMO, the law is being skirted, and it’s common to do so. Is it so much of a stretch to imagine a little salt in the cask being regarded the same as a little bit of sherry?

          4. Jeff

            Adding salt directly to casked scotch product would clearly be illegal and, for that reason, I doubt that it’s done. The area of “cask conditioning”, pre-fill, is a lot foggier. After all, many “sherry casks” used in scotch finishing are really only “sherry conditioned (washed)” as opposed to casks used to mature sherry to full term (and most are made of American oak) – “Sherry casks, yee-haa”, Whiskyfun January 2013 – part 1 – Tasting Oban, Glenlivet, Benromach, Deanston, Balmenach, Littlemill, Benriach…. (http://www.whiskyfun.com/archivejanuary13-1.html#080113)

            Scotch regulations specify oak casks, but don’t, I think, have any comment on previous content of such casks – which makes all the various wine finishes we’re now seeing possible. If the sherry wash of a cask is legal pre-fill, would the brine wash of a cask be legal? If various flavouring is added directly to the product, it’s illegal, but various flavours being absorbed by the product from the cask is the time-honoured basis of flavour finishing.

          5. Bruce

            Agreed, but at the same time, word travels quickly and salt-tainted whisky would not end up selling very well. I very much doubt they would brine-wash (brain-washing is another matter entirely) casks regardless of what it does to speed maturation IF it’s going to wreck the contents of the barrel.

            Because in the end, whisky is and has always been, from production and marketing viewpoint, about making money, not losing it. And bottles on shelves don’t turn a profit, only the bottles that leave the store.

          6. Jeff

            Agreed, Bruce; I’m not arguing that brine is an option that has been tried, or that would be attractive, but I do wonder if it would be legal – which, to me, is more troubling in itself. Most whisky probably couldn’t stand very much without it being ruined, but the concentration to create quicker maturation effects might be very low as well.

          7. David

            Well Jeff, it’s an interesting discussion.

            I agree with you that it could very easily ruin whisky. I don’t know if the amount you’d have to add to have an effect on maturation would leave the resulting spirit intact. I really don’t know enough about it.

            I am fairly certain adding salt is not permitted.

            I think the issue around rinsing the casks is an interesting one. I don’t see how it is specifically prohibited.

            But as far as reporting is concerned, just like I want to know about caramel and chill filtration, I would sure as heck want to know if they were doing this to my whisky, BEFORE I buy it.

          8. kallaskander

            Hi there,

            I just re-read the economist piece and it gives the date as Jun 25th 1998 ….

            I had not noticed it in first reading.

            But I think we can say with confidence that nothing ever came from the experiment with salted maturation.

            As to how a salty tang comes into whisky… it is surely not in the way the marketing departements want us to believe.

            Maritime notes do not come from the maturation next to the coast or on an island.

            Talisker… made by the sea – yes but … matured in Glasgow.

            Lagavulin is tankered away from the island of Islay as new make and matures somewhere in the Whisky Belt where the big company central warehousing and bottling facilities are situated.

            Tobermory and Ledaig from the Isle of Mull mature at Deanston distillery because one former owner of the Mull distillery sold the warehouses.

            Ardbeg partially matures at Glenmorangie because there is not enough space at the Islay warehouses.

            And so on.

            A salty whisky is a creation of the brain of the person drinking it. There is no physical salt in any whisky.

            Greetings
            kallaskander

          9. Jeff

            Adding salt directly isn’t permitted, but that’s not the issue compared to the potential loophole represented by pre-fill “cask conditioning”. It’s the legality of it that, like CF and E150a, keeps the specific reporting of it as a process from being a requirement.

            There are a lot of things that people might well want, and should, know about what they’re drinking, but the demand, as opposed to the request, for that information simply isn’t there – which is why consumers will continue to get just whatever the industry decides to give/tell them.

          10. Ol' Jas

            I love a salty tang in my whisky! Put me down as a vote FOR salty-cask maturation. 🙂 I would love to try that herring cask thing the Bruichladdich folks did a while back. I heard it was overwhelmingly salty, but maybe it’d be great vatted with some normal stuff.

            As everyone’s been saying here, maturation with various second-generation casks is really just a vehicle for flavoring whisky with the first-generation contents. Is it opaque and unromantic? Yep. Do we go along with it? Sure, for the most part. Would I have more qualms about this same process getting saltiness into whisky than I do with it getting sherry or wine into whisky? Nope.

          11. Jeff

            Regardless of what anyone thinks of salt in their whisky – and I’ve never heard of anyone’s preference resulting in personally salting a whisky to taste in the glass – I’d want to know beforehand if it’s been done to an expression I’m about to purchase. I don’t care if the methods of cask conditioning are unromantic so much as I care that they are undisclosed.

    2. kallaskander

      Hi there,

      hi Jeff…. coming from the social sciences – a contradiction in terms I know – I nevertheless try to keep my paranoia constructive and useful.

      It is lamentable that the transparency campaign initiated by John Glasers Compass Box seems to leave as much traces as pictures in the sands on a breezy day at the ocean.

      But I think that the mechanisms of control and especially self-control in the whisky industry are effective and working.
      You might say that it is easy to say living in a land where the use of artificial clourings in spirits has to be declared on the label.
      But besides this I want to mention the Cardhu incident. Diageo tried to make the Cardhu a blended – or vatted malt at that time – in the almost identical package of the Cardhu single malt.
      They did not succeed and the category blended malt was invented subsequently with the 2009 whisky rules.

      I would not talk about loopholes but you are right that there are some shortcuts that are taken in the making of whisky that are questionable.

      So does the term single cask mean bottled from the one last cask the whisky has been in – obliterating the fact that the whisky has been in at least on other kind of cask when bottled from a finishing cask.
      A single cask bottling of a finished whisky negates all the casks that were before.

      sherry casks once meant casks that have contained sherries for years, today you have sherry conditioned casks that held sherry for 6 months. They go as sherry casks.

      There is the whole and wide issue of age statements – no need to go deeper into this here.

      But I do not think that there are salt water conditioned cask out theres to create whisky with a salty taste.
      Allegedly Glenfiddich did buy rum and matured it further in ex-bourbon casks of their own to condition these ex-bourbon casks as rum casks for their original Havana Reserve then sold the rum off.
      Not illegal but I would have wanted to know. In cases like this you are completely right

      Greetings
      kallaskander

      Reply
      1. Bruce

        Kallaskander,

        I’m not so sure there isn’t some sort of salt in whiskies that taste that was. It may not be NaCl, but there has to be some chemical in the liquid to trigger the salt receptors in the nose and tongue. Not that I am accusing the absolutely “innocent” industry of nefarious undertakings (if anything, it’s Ralfy who does the “undertakings”). There can easily be compounds that are distilled into the newmake or are picked up from the wood that go into the spirit. Given the geography lesson on maturation, my bet is in the malting/drying, fermenting and distillation.

        Reply
      2. Bruce

        For some reason when I tried to make a new paragraph in the last post everything disappeared so I have to break this up.

        My point is that I don’t think saltiness of whisky is in someone’s head…but not everyone tastes things the same way. For instance, some pituitary tumours make us crave salt.

        Go figure…

        Reply
      3. Jeff

        Thanks for the response, Kallaskander

        I’m just pointing out what is possible; in terms of it being useful or constructive, that’s in the eye of the beholder. It depends what people are using it for and what they are constructing with it. It also depends on what people are willing to look at, as opposed to what they dismiss. Not terming “cask conditioning” as a loophole to flavouring whisky doesn’t close it – and, just on its face, never could; “cask conditioning” is about flavouring whisky. I don’t personally believe that brine has been used anywhere – and I take your point about paranoia – but my point is that, if it’s a legal option, it would never be necessary to tell me if it was used.

        “But I think that the mechanisms of control and especially self-control in the whisky industry are effective and working.” – I’m not assured of that at all in the context of people being willing to tell you that the impact of a physical process varies with labeling choices, not that there’s need to get into that here (or indeed, apparently, anywhere anymore). And that’s not to say that said people, within the industry, don’t have a good idea of where the law draws its lines. What’s interesting is the open territory beyond those lines.

        With such examples as Cardhu Pure Malt, various interpretations of Single Cask, and Glaser’s fuzzy thinking on a consumer’s rights vs. a producer’s options, I have little faith in the general industry’s concern for the spirit of laws and rights as opposed to the letter of laws and rights (and, at the time Diageo attempted the Cardhu hocus pocus, it was legal).

        I think it could be argued that the SWA was created to show the industry as being capable of being a self-policing body, when its council and policies have been shown to just reflect the attitudes of the industry’s largest players (albeit probably in various combinations and alliances), and the two things aren’t synonymous. It’s true that Diageo didn’t get its way on the Cardhu matter, but that doesn’t address the question of why that occurred or what were the motivations of the forces that opposed it. If Pure Malt had simply been legally accepted as another term for vatted or blended malt, the end result wouldn’t have been all that much different, so was the point to defend whisky integrity or to give Diageo a black eye?

        As per its treatment of Glaser, the SWA thinks it speaks for, and is the defender of, scotch as a whole, but that it is somehow only answerable to its membership. It could well be time to see the Scotch Whisky Regulations reviewed again, with an eye to providing more finishing restrictions and more product information for consumers. The telling question, to me, is where is the SWA on that issue?

        Cheers!

        Reply
        1. kallaskander

          Hi there,

          give Jeff an answer and you have more work at your hands… but that is allright.

          We are agreed that the drinks giants and their marketing are there to make profit. Are we?

          The SWA to jump to the end of your post and perhaps to conclusions is there to protect the integrity of Scotch whisky and the profits made with it.

          I agree with you Jeff that the SWA is not always comfortable in those two conflicting roles. Being a self-policing body you have to be careful which hat you are wearing when and as an employee you have to know which side of your bread the butter is on.

          That is all not easy and not straightforward at least not always as straightforward as it should be.
          The NAS discussion shows that the SWA is riding the razor’s edge and exactly the edge when it went against John Glasers attempt at transparency emphasizing the for them beneficial rule that the youngest age of a whisky in a bottle or non at all was allowed to be put on a label.

          There are lots of moral issues now with Scotch whisky but I do not believe that there is betrayal – even when I call NAS whiskies a double betrayal myself.
          But within the the bounderies of the Scotch whisky rules -such as they are – there is stretching and testing these bounderies.
          No one could fake a Scotch whisky so well as the Scots – but why would and why should they?

          So where will the SWA stand on the moral issues on Scotch whisky in the near future? Hard to tell but I am sure on the legal side using all leeway they can muster to sell more whisky.

          Greetings
          kallaskander

          Reply
          1. Jeff

            The NAS discussion isn’t a case of the SWA riding the fence or being conflicted; NAS, the industry/label-selected “irrelevance” of age to whisky, simply stands directly against physics, multivintaging and a whole pile of expensive warehouses. Like its membership, and indeed all major players in scotch, the SWA is quiet on these issues because it has no answer to them, but there is little evidence that it is torn over them or that industry support for NAS isn’t strong. How NAS betrays whisky but its proponents do not, or where that leaves the mechanisms of control, I leave for others to resolve.

            Glaser’s position – that producers should have the option, NOT the obligation, to tell consumers more about what they’re drinking – seems to be refused consideration by the SWA just on the basis that Glaser isn’t a SWA member (and the SWA doubtless thanks its lucky stars for that). What it’s really about, I think, is that key members of the SWA don’t want to get into a product information bidding war with Compass Box considering that information about some of the former’s products wouldn’t look all that impressive by comparison (which is the reason much of it is being hidden right now).

            At heart, the SWA is only a trade association, and it only functions as a watchdog when the vested – and not necessarily pure – interests of its members are threatened, and it defends them, not scotch. There are many, both inside and outside the industry, that have legitimate interests in the direction that scotch is taking, and those interests do not always run parallel to those of the SWA or its members with their focus on profits.

            Speaking as a consumer, I’ve yet to find that any producer’s making more money has necessarily resulted in the delivery of better products for purchase, or even in more information about those products. The idea that what is good for scotch in general is decided by producer income statements is a very narrow view of the question, but it’s a paradigm that has, unfortunately, seemed to gain widespread acceptance. It’s not that I want anyone to go broke making whisky; it’s just that I find that possibility so remote as to be laughable.

            It’s not a case of the SWA not being comfortable in its conflicting roles; it’s a case of whether consumers should be comfortable with the SWA’s obvious conflicts of interest.

  2. Robert

    I’ve been drinking a lot of different Laphroaigs over the last 6 months (new 15, 18, Cairdeas 2015, and CS 007) and don’t really pick up the saltiness you guys mention. Iodine, yes. Medicinal flavors, yes. Some varied citrus fruits, yes. Even a bit of mint. But not salt, unless you are referring to the iodine. They use Makers Mark barrels, which also gives them a faint bourbon note. Did a comparison last night between the 10 CS and Lagavulin 8, which really pointed out how different two peated whiskies can be, but both quite good. In fact, tasting them HTH actually made them both more enjoyable and interesting. Both youngish peated whiskies, but totally different.

    So, no, I don’t believe the casks are “salted”, but I’d really like to know what Lagavulin does to their casks that gives them such wonderful results, even with an 8 YO.

    Reply
    1. David

      I wonder if a better comparison could be made between Laphroaig 10 CS and Lagavulin 12, which is bottled as CS. The 8 is only 48%. Not sure if the lower strength would make a comparison more challenging (and I haven’t tasted the 8 yet) but it might affect things.

      Reply
  3. Robert

    The Laga 8, at 48 %, seems stronger than its proof. Part of that is probably due to its strong flavors in both nose and palate. Takes well to water too, as it is fairly “fat” whisky. HTH I’d have to say they each held their own, with maybe the 8 being more dominant. I can definitely say the 12 would blow the 007 out of the water. Without a doubt Lagavulin 12 is my favorite peated whisky.

    Reply
    1. David

      Good to know Robert. I’m now looking forward to trying my 8 YO (or the one my friend is picking up for himself when he brings them both to Toronto, if he opens it in my presence…).

      Reply

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