While I worked in Calais (F), my friend and colleague Neil introduced me to two single malts which are at the opposite ends of the tasting scale, Laphroiag and Glenmorangie. Interestingly, most other Scotsmen I know (and I know a few) don’t like whiskey or default to cheaper alternatives like the Famous Grouse blend. My first Glenmorangie was the 18 year old, which is as smooth as Cognac, a truly splendid nip. Glenmorangie also offer a very large selection of different cask finishes, be it port, sherry or alike. I never paid attention to those, but I should have!
My favourite whiskey, however, is from Islay. The most renown distilleries from this island off the Scottish west-coast are Laphroiag, Bowmore, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain. It is love at second tasting, because these single malts are the most characterful whiskeys you can have. A peaty, smokey base mixes with bitter, seaweed and salty notes, not for the faint-at-heart! From Laphroiag I have bottles of 10y, 15y and 30y (a birthday gift from my lovely wife) and also the 10y cask strength (56%). The 30y has a very round and cultivated yet typical strong Islay taste and is only opened on special occasions.
Only recently, while travelling on a ferry to Amsterdam, I have discovered the Quarter Cask, which is finished off in smaller “quarter casks”. What a revelation! At a fraction of the price, you get a much more refined Laphroiag which even competes with the very special 30y filling. Laphroiag go one step further and recently introduced a Triple Wood, which is matured in three casks. The postman delivered this package on the morning after boxing day and I can say this is a great morning time whiskey! I need to taste some more, but it seems Laphroiag’s strategy to mature in multiple casks is definitely a good one!