Monday, December 8, 2014
This spring, I was reintroduced to the smoky peat flavor of Laphroaig Scotch Whisky at the Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor and have settled into a long term relationship. At that time I sampled from their Quarter Cask and Triple Wood, both with distinct and varying degrees of smoke, sweetness, and spice. These two whiskies follow the same production and maturation process. After the malt is smoked with dried peat, mashed and distilled, the whisky starts aging in American Oak (retired Bourbon barrels). The second maturation occurs in even smaller Quarter Casks. At this point, the whiskey bound for the Triple Wood undergoes a final maturation in large European Oak Oloroso Sherry Casks. The Quarter Cask is very Laphroag-ish with plenty of iodine and smoked peat, even some seaweed, on the nose and body. And the maturation process induces some major vanilla and sticky honey which is more evident with a few drops of water. On the other hand, the Triple Wood is a different Beast. The Oloroso Sherry Casks tones down the iodine and peat with even more smoky, syrupy, and nutty vanilla honey. The peat comes back slightly with water, but the Triple Wood is all about the wood: nuts, vanilla, and honey. Initially I favored the Quarter Cask, but lately I'm all about the Triple Wood and its smoky jam. And this Christmas I'll be looking to add some more square footage to my lifetime lease on Islay. Cheers.