If you consider yourself a connoisseur of whiskey, you will want to acquaint yourself with Laphroaig. Typically, a 10-year bottle is commonly available, with bottles aged 27 years or older being a rare and expensive treat.
This whiskey has the tagline of being the most ‘richly flavored of all Scotch whiskeys,’ and is sure not to disappoint the discerning palate. This spirit is said to be the favorite of the Prince of Wales and is the only whiskey that has been awarded the Royal Warrant.
The distillery that produces this fine Scotch whiskey was established in 1815. However, it was actually 1810 when brothers Donald and Alexander Johnston officially started up their distillery, illegally. Eventually, the duo was granted a license to operate, and the signature smoky whiskey began to soar in popularity on the island.
The Johnston family retained control over the distillery until 1972 when it was sold to Bessie Williamson. Today, the Laphroaig distillery is currently owned by Beam Suntory.
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History Of Scotch Whiskey
The word whiskey comes from the Gaelic words, ‘uisge beatha,’ which translates to ‘waters of life.’
The earliest documentation on the distillation of whiskey in Scotland dates back to 1494. For a whiskey to be considered a Scotch, it can only be made in Scotland, and nowhere else in the world.
Whiskey has been taken as a remedy for illness, purported to promote longevity, and has become an intrinsic part of life for the people of Scotland. If you are curious about a true whiskey, then you can only consider single-malt whiskey. A single malted grain was the original foundation for the drink, before blends took over.
To be considered a Scotch whiskey, the spirits must be aged in an oak barrel for a minimum of three years. You will find most bottles of Laphroaig at a minimum age of 10 years, with significantly older bottles being rare and affordable only for blue bloods.
Today, Scotch whiskey remains one of the most sought-after alcoholic beverages that people the world over enjoy imbibing.
Remember, if you want to know for sure what you are drinking is indeed Scotch whiskey, it should meet the following requirements.
Some may think that people are overly particular about details but being able to discern the crucial factors that matter when creating an excellent whiskey matter a lot.
You have to consider the finished product, aroma, and notes within the flavor that come across your palate. All whiskey is not Scotch, nor created equal.
What Is Laphroaig And How Does It Work?
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This spirit is a single-malt alcoholic beverage that is only manufactured on the Isle of Islay, Scotland. The name Laphroaig is Gaelic in origin and translates into the English words, “the hollow of Broadbay.”
People enjoy drinking the single-malt Scotch whiskey for celebrations, to feel relaxed, or just enjoy the sensation of being drunk off of a finely distilled spirit. If you are a novice to drinking whiskey, you have to give this spirit a try, as it is one of those drinks that is either loved or considered an acquired taste.
What Makes Laphroaig Unique
You’ll know this whiskey when you taste it, thanks to its unique manufacturing process, distillation, and geographical location. Whiskey enthusiasts who visit the distillery will love that they malt their own barley, maintaining control over the finished result.
Since the Isle of Islay has a large number of bogs and peat, the kilns are fired up with peat, offering to the smoky tones that flavor this particular whiskey. When first tasting a glass of this whiskey, many note the briny taste of seawater, the robust, earthy flavors from the peat, and the sweetness of the oak casks.
The color of this spirit is medium caramel and may appear unassuming at first glance. However, your nose and palate will quickly dismiss any superficial ideas about this whiskey. So many people who try this whiskey, in addition to traveling to the distillery on the island, can consider each bottle a tribute and capture of Islay itself.
If you plan on picking up a bottle of Laphroaig, be forewarned that anything older than the 10-year mark may set you back a few bills. The average price for a 10-year bottle is around $ to $$, depending on the retailer.
A 25-year old cask strength bottle will run around $$, and a 30-year old cask strength bottle will cost about double, or $$$.
Considering the popularity of this whiskey, and its choice as an introduction to finely distilled whiskey, it is unlikely to find any deep discounts or deals on the spirit. However, depending on where you choose to purchase a bottle, you can give yourself some wiggle room. The experience is well worth the price.
For the sake of this review, we mostly focused on the 10-year bottle of this whiskey, rather than consider some of the more expensive and harder to find bottles. Be aware, this company has begun releasing 16-year old bottles which are comparable and equally pleasant, but the 10-year is more familiar and easy to snag at the store.
Some people find it a match made in heaven to pair a glass of this fine Scotch with a cigar, or a fitting finish to the evening after snuggling up with a good book on a wintry evening.
A glass of this whiskey is easy to sip and has a light, smooth texture and medium body. The flavors are rich and fully developed with notes of mild peat, citrus, fruit, and honey. It tastes a bit medicinal going down, but the finish is pleasant.
This whiskey isn’t as heavy or oily as a glass of Lagavulin, but it’s not light like Ardbeg either. This whiskey is a middle of the road choice that will satisfy.
When some drinkers engage with this whiskey, they get feelings of tasting soot or feel like they are stuck in an uncleaned chimney. The taste of peat is very strong in this spirit, albeit it has some moments of sweetness. The taste of the iodine of the sea hits you, and then you get a lingering smokiness after you swallow a draught.
There is that kick of the alcohol when you first take a sip, so you will want to take slow breaths and take everything in carefully. If you breathe too quickly, you might choke after your first sip.
Some say this isn’t a beginner’s whiskey, but others would beg to differ. If you want to appreciate whiskey and its history as a medicinal drink to benefit life, you don’t want to pass up trying this spirit, or others distilled on Islay.
However, one of the funniest descriptions of drinking a glass of this whiskey can be summed up in the statement, “…tastes like burning hospital.”
How It Compares - Laphroaig
When comparing Scotch whiskey like Laphroaig, you may want to reconsider contrasting the experience to American whiskey, and simply look at other whiskey made on the Isle of Islay.
There is something inherently magical about the whole history and process of distillation of Scotland’s whiskey, which seems to transport the peat, seawater, and soul of the land into each bottle. You can’t just blindly drink a whiskey; you need to appreciate the craftsmanship, history, and dedication to continue a tradition for centuries.
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When it comes to comparing Lagavulin to other Islay whiskeys, you will find more notes of chocolate or coffee on the finish and enjoy rich dark fruit flavors on your tongue. Of course, on that initial first sip, your mouth will be greeted with more woody and sweet tones before you get the signature smoky peat flavor.
This whiskey is slightly sweet and not as heavy on the smoke and salt. Most people will choose a 16-year old bottle, but it is available from 12 years to 37. Lagavulin might be a little trickier to source than a 10-year bottle of our leading contender.
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Glenfiddich does not come off so incredibly smoky and robust and is considered a middle-of-the-road selection for whiskey. A bottle of Glenfiddich that is aged 15 years is an excellent place to start, and the price for a bottle is comparable to other whiskeys that are single-malt.
The notes in Glenfiddich lend themselves to the spirit being distilled in rum casks from the Caribbean, American bourbon whiskey barrels, and even sherry butts from Spain.
You’ll know this bottle for its stag logo like it’s namesake and the triangular bottles.
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You won’t find a number marking the age on a bottle of Ardbeg, as it is a blend of young and older whiskey. This spirit is bottled at cask strength and is unique because it is aged in barrels that once held sherry or bourbon. The alcohol by volume is 54.2% and the bottle seems intimidating, but it’s worth giving this Scotch a try.
Surprisingly, despite the sharp notes of peat, citrus, and smoke, there is no burning on the finish with this whiskey. The average price for a bottle is about $75, as you get what you pay for with distinctive, flavorful aged whiskeys coming from Scotland.
Compared to the 10-year bottle from the Johnston brothers, this whiskey is not as heavy on salty notes from the sea.
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When it comes to whiskey enthusiasts, some people sharply diverge when it comes to superior flavor and quality if whiskey is single-malt or blended.
The whiskey we reviewed for you is a single-malt, using only barley and a specific distillation process to create the flavors and tones that make it stand out in the crowd. However, blended whiskey relies on the flavors and tones created when using multiple types of grains, in addition to the distillation process. Blended whiskey may also mix different aged spirits to form a new complex for the palate.
Whether you choose single-malt and consider yourself a purist, or enjoy a glass of blended whiskey is a matter of taste and preference. If you want to get the full depth of flavor out of your whiskey, make it a point to avoid adding an ice cube and watering down your experience.
What We Think
If you are game for a glass of smoky and salty tones in a whiskey, you might just find your kindred spirit in a glass of this Scotch. The price for the most popular and available 10-year bottle is more than reasonable for the experience. You won’t break the bank, and it indeed not an underwhelming budget buy.
This whiskey is an excellent choice to appreciate the rich and flavorful history of Islay-distilled whiskeys, and develop respect for the medicinal origins of whiskey in itself. If you like an adventure in a glass, are not one to run and water down your drink with ice cubes, and want to taste a range of distinct and pungent flavors, grab the 10-year bottle.
A glass of this spirit will serve you well during the holidays, on cold, blustery days, and when you want to get in touch with your sophisticated inner gentleman, while saddled up with an equally fine cigar to finish off the night.
This spirit is not for the faint of heart because of those strong smoky and salty notes, but it’s not something to be feared and miss out on enjoying a glass at least once. If you can’t make the time to travel to Scotland, a glass of this whiskey will bring you as close as you can to stepping foot on the distillery and witnessing the sea and peat in-person.
Coupons And Deals
There are no real coupons or deals that exist for this spirit, except maybe if you visit the distillery in-person on the Isle of Islay.
However, you can shop around with different respected retailers of alcoholic beverages to scoop up a bottle, at the best price for your budget and taste.