Laphroaig 10 Year Old Original Cask Strength


Islay Single Malt, 10 Years,
58.3% ABV, $53

Thanks to Mark E. for this sample!

The smoke and alcohol are readily evident in the aroma, along with peat and salty sea breeze. This is against a backdrop of butterscotch, charred oak, vanilla wafer, grapefruit and just a hint of apricot. The taste is very bold! The initial flavor is tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, vanilla, tobacco and apricot followed by a burst of butterscotch, vanilla and ginger that give way to a bit of iodine and grass. The finish is smokey white pepper and fades to a slightly salty and leathery oak bitterness. The smokiness remains and the pepper lingers for a long time. All of this distracts from mild sweet tobacco that still remains in the background. Adding water really tames this beast and makes it much more enjoyable. The aroma becomes mostly grass and toffee as the smoke moves to the background and the salty sea breeze becomes still sea air. The citrus becomes ginger and the alcohol burn is brought under control. The taste become more fruity and sweet with notes of apple, tart cherry, peach and grapefruit to accompany the vanilla and peat. A mild smoke aspect remains as does the white pepper that arrives in the finish. The ginger is much milder and the bitterness gives way to salt and a hint of leather. After a while, the remnants are of salty peat, licorice and charred oak and this final finish has somewhat of a numbing quality to it. Some water is definitely needed to subdue this animal. It’s wild and woolly!

My impression of this complex whisky is diminished by the bitter, numbing finish (helped out much by water). The tangy flavor is too much at times for the milder fruit elements to compete with and disappears quickly, which leaves the smoke, peat and spice to complete the experience. After a while, the balance improves but is never really achieved. For me, it just doesn’t work that well (and I know it does for many). I’ll stick with Ardbeg Ten Year over this one.

Ardbeg Ten Year Old

Islay Single Malt, 10 Years,
46% ABV, $40

Thanks to Mark E. for this sample.

Smells of sweet, salty seawater with smoke, peat, grass, honey and toffee greet the nose. The taste is of orange, ginger, vanilla, caramel and smokey peat. These flavors give way to a bit of lemongrass and white pepper as a smokey, woody licorice bitterness complete the experience. The bitterness of the aftertaste is subtle and the sweetness fades slowly along with the pepper. This is fantastic stuff!

Here’s the description from Ardbeg:

Ardbeg Ten Years Old is revered around the world as the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malt of them all. Yet it does not flaunt the peat; rather it gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt to produce a whisky of perfect balance.

MacLeods 8 Year Old Islay (Ian MacLeod)

Islay Single Malt, 8 Years, 40% ABV, $50

This my first Islay Scotch and I’ve really been looking forward to the experience. I’ll just dive right in.

Salty seawater, orange and lots of smoke. I think I need to give this one some room to breath. Okay, the smoke has settled down some and the orange has become orange peel and shortbread with just a hint of creamy vanilla. I also detect a faint spruce tree. I was expecting a note of iodine based on what I’ve heard, but this may be coming through as the fir for me. Anyway, its time for a sip. The taste is a lot of peat and oily smoke… not my favorite. Now, I do get a taste of iodine that persists for quite a while. Also, not my idea of a desired flavor. Other flavors I detect are vanilla and pepper.

Master of Malt says:

A peaty 8 year old Single Malt from a secret Islay, bottled by Ian Macleod as an introduction into malt whisky.