This single-malt Scotch whiskey from the Islay region is memorable for its taste as well as the way it’s matured.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask Review: A Surprisingly Complex Scotch
How Is It Made?
Much like other whiskies, Laphroaig is distilled and then transferred to wood barrels in order to age. The difference is that the company ages their liquor (at least, initially) in American oak barrels in a double maturation process (two ex-bourbon barrels are used).
The Quarter Cask Scotch has another step, however. While it is still maturing, it is transferred to quarter casks, the size of which are much smaller than average casks. The smaller size means that the liquid has more contact with the wood, which helps it mature more quickly.
Typically, the Scotch will mature in the quarter casks for around seven or eight months before it is bottled. These casks sit in a warehouse near the Atlantic during this time, which influences the flavors.
What Does It Taste Like?
The taste of this Scotch is influenced by its region, just like any other Scotch. As it hails from Islay, this means that it’s not immune to that area’s characteristic strong, smoky flavor, which many say is a result of the proximity to the sea and exposure to the sea winds.
However, because this whiskey is matured in quarter casks, this imparts a distinctive and surprisingly complex taste that is on par with other whiskies aged for five or six years.
In particular, the taste is deeper, woodier, and stronger than it would be otherwise, without the aid of the smaller casks. Other tasting notes include smoke, vanilla, peat, spices, and a slight sweetness. The finish isregularly described as long, smooth, and velvety.
What is Laphroaig Quarter Cask’s Price?
The price of this Scotch differs from country to country. In the U.S., this whiskey generally runs from $45 to $50. In the U.K., it tends to cost around 38 GBP (around $47.50 USD). In Europe, it is even cheaper, costing anywhere from 32 to 35 EUR (about $34 USD). Europe’s price may be due to the fact that taxes on alcohol are lower.
In general, this Scotch is on the affordable end of the spectrum.
How to Drink Quarter Cask Laphroaig from Islay
Purists may tell you that the only way to drink a good whiskey is to have it neat, with no accompaniments, on ice in a heavy-bottomed glass tumbler, or with a little water to taste. They will tell you to sip it slowly and let your taste-buds experience every note in the liquid. Whiskey is to be slowly savored, not drained like a shot of tequila.
However, there are other ways to drink this type of whiskey for those who don’t mind throwing tradition to the wind.
In a smoky martini, this Scotch makes the perfect substitute for the vermouth found in traditional martinis. Mix it with gin and add a twist of lemon for a garnish. Or, if you prefer a sweeter drink, mix the Laphroaig with lemon sour and fresh apple juice with muddled pear.
About the Islay Region
The Islay region of Scotland is located in the Hebridean Islands, which are off the west coast. The Laphroaig distillery itself is on the southeastern coast of Islay, along with Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries.
Scotch whiskies from Islay boast a peaty, smoky flavor due to the water they’re made from as well as the character of the barley.
Distillation on Islay is believed to have begun during the fourteenth century when Irish monks deemed the natural surroundings perfect for the activity. Indeed, the area is rich with peat, plenty of running soft water from lochs and rivers, and land suitable for growing barley.
After the introduction of the Excise Act of 1644, which taxed whiskey, production had to go underground. Distillers moved their operations from out in the open to caves and remote areas to avoid getting caught.
A Memorable Scotch Whiskey for Discerning Tastes
In short, Laphroaig Scotch whiskey that’s finished in small casks has a distinct flavor all its own. It is infused with the smokiness distinctive to Islay, but it also has a character that sets itself apart due to the uniqueness of the method of maturation. Whiskey drinkers and lovers should definitely taste it and see for themselves how it tickles the taste-buds.