On his recent visit to Dallas, Laphroaig’s brand ambassador Simon Brooking stopped into Dallas restaurant Al Biernat’s for lunch. As one would expect from a scotch ambassador, Simon travels in style, donning a kilt and hauling a bag full of whisky, which he graciously shared with the members of his table.
The Laphroaig Distillery is located on Islay, an island known for its intensely flavored single malt whiskies. Comprised of just barley, yeast and water, scotch gets much of its flavor from two processes — drying the malted barley over peat fires and aging the finished spirit in oak barrels. Laphroaig single malts have a very pronounced peat flavor, which can be offputting to novice drinkers, but that signature smoky taste is sought out by more experienced imbibers, making Laphroaig the number one selling Islay single malt whisky.
At lunch, Simon shared the following expressions from the Laphroaig lineup:
Laphroaig 10-Year – The most popular of the Laphroaig lineup, the 10-year old expression tastes like Islay. It’s full of smoky peat and a bit of salt, but there’s an underlying sweetness that ties it all together into a pleasant package.
Laphroaig Cask Strength – Whereas most spirits come off the still upwards of 100 proof and are cut with water to reduce their alcohol content, Laphroaig Cask Strength is bottled without the water, clocking in around 111 proof. For such a potent whisky, it’s quite smooth and bursts with flavor.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask – By aging in a smaller cask, this whisky’s contact with the oak barrel is 30% greater than with standard barrels. This adds more oak notes to the whisky, including a softer mouth feel and more sweetness, but the intense peat flavors are still present.
Laphroaig 18-Year – Aged 18 years, this whisky is smooth and complex. Within the peat flavors there are tastes of toffee, chocolate and vanilla. The 18-year finishes long and warm and pairs nicely with a rich dessert.
Armore Traditional Cask – Brooking doubles as the brand ambassador for Ardmore, so although its not part of the Laphroaig lineup, he offered up a dram. Ardmore has a less pronounced smokiness than Laphroaig, but according to Brooking, its peat flavors are more intense than the typical Highland malt whisky. The Ardmore presented flavors of fruit and vanilla with gentle undertones of peat smoke.
Aside from providing the booze, Brooking offered some tips on how to best appreciate scotch: When “nosing” or smelling alcohol, part your lips. This allows you to take in more of the scent and less of the alcohol. When tasting scotch, place the liquid on the middle of your tongue. The front of your tongue is where you detect alcohol, so sipping the scotch mid-palate ensures that your taste buds can appreciate the whisky without being overwhelmed by alcoholic heat.
Laphroaig is widely available in Dallas-area bars, restaurants and liquor stores.