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Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

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Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby beast89 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:17 pm

Hello,

It's a real pleasure to be a part of this forum. I've never seen anybody spill so much ink over whisky before!

I'm quite young and fairly new to the world of whisky, so please help me out. I'm trying to expand my knowledge and familiarity with various scotch whiskys based on my current tastes.

My problem is that I have no idea how to explain to you what my taste is. I'm extremely uneducated in these matters and don't possess even the most rudimentary vocabulary for describing these things (call me a Philistine if you will). I hope to learn more and improve this region of my vocabulary (and my palette). Any tips would be appreciated.

What I can tell is is that my favorite whisky used to be Laphroaig (10yr). Up until last month, when my dad gave me a bottle of Lagavulin (16yr) as a birthday present. I immediately fell in love with it and I would now consider it to be my favorite whisky. I actually find both those whiskys to be similar in many ways (compared to other famous scotch whiskys I've tasted like Johnny Walker Black or Glenfiddich). There is something common to both Laphroaig and Lagavulin that is very different from the taste of Johnny Black or Glenfiddich. Whatever it is, I'm absolutely in love with it. Like I said before, I don't have the words to describe the similarity I'm talking about - but I've heard the words "smoke" and "peat" mentioned in this context.

Anyway, I was wondering if you could tell me:

1. What (if anything) is the similarity between Laphroaig and Lagavulin? I can use this as a starting point into further whisky exploration.

or

2. For somebody who enjoys Laphroaig and Lagavulin, what are some other whiskys (of a similar vein) that you can recommend?

Thank you for your time. And I hope I enjoy my stay at these whisky forums.

-Beast
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby Ganga » Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:28 pm

In a similar vein, Ardbeg 10 and Coal Ila 12. There is also the ability to further explore each distillery you already like. Maybe a bottle of Laphroaig 10 cask strength.

As for tasting notes, there is no right or wrong answer; the notes are in the "eyes of the beholder". Suggestion is to start thinking about some of the things you've smelled or tasted in the past. For me, the Laphroaig gives me diesel or coal tar, sometimes green apples and if not overwhelmed by the diesel some graininess. I am sure if you look around here you can find some tasting notes on these and many others. Take a look through the Live Tastings Threads. There is at least one on Laphroaig. Take note that different folks will describe the same whisky differently.
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby bredman » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:26 pm

beast89 wrote:1. What (if anything) is the similarity between Laphroaig and Lagavulin? I can use this as a starting point into further whisky exploration.

2. For somebody who enjoys Laphroaig and Lagavulin, what are some other whiskys (of a similar vein) that you can recommend?


1. Both of these distilleries are located on Islay, in fact they are on the same road just miles apart. Islay is famed for producing the finest peated Scotch malt whisky there is. They are both heavily peated whisky, along with Caol Ila and Ardbeg (both also located on Islay), they are the most peated. There are other peated whiskies on Islay also, including Bowmore, Kilchoman, and Port Charlotte (made at Bruichladdich distillery).

2. Definitely Ardbeg 10. There are other Ardbegs too, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan, these are the three most affordable 'beggies. There are many Caol Ilas you could try, there are dozens of independent bottlings to pick from and all are generally very good.
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby outamyway » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:28 am

Read tasting notes from experts while you taste the whisky they are reviewing to see if you can pick out the things they use as descriptors. Also, make sure you are using a proper tasting glass while evaluating. When drinking to enjoy whisky, do whatever you want, drink from a paper cup if that's what you want, drown it in ice or add cola if that's what you want. But to properly evaluate whisky, the right glass and some water are required.
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby whiskgeek » Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:04 am

Welcome, Beast! Lagavulin was what hooked me on Scotch whisky.

The flavors and aromas are often difficult to describe, other than simply stating what they taste or smell like. If you don't know that particular flavor, you may just be out of luck, unless someone can give you some similarities... which is what you were asking for, I guess. :-) Look for tasting notes to compare with your experience.

So you like the boldest whiskies. That's what Laga and Froyg have in common. Peat, smoke and... peat smoke. ;-) So try more of those, and try more of the other Islays - Ardbeg, Caol Isla, the peated Bruichladdichs. And Bowmore. Over time, branch out from that particular island. You'll probably also like Talisker and Highland Park. And while you're at it, try some other kinds - sherry casks, and just regular "plain" malts. There's a lot of good stuff out there.
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby Malteriet » Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:49 pm

Welcome to the good stuff ;)
To expand your vocabulary try if you can distinguish between smoke and peat. Some whiskies are very peaty, but have almost no smokiness.

Personally I am a big fan of the Ardbeg Corrywreckan, but if you would like to hop off Islay and try something peppery peaty, Talisker from Isle of Skye is also a great choice. Especially their 57* north or their 18 year old which are both outstanding.

I've recently tried an independent bottling of Bruichladdich at rum cask which was excellent. I don't remember the bottler, but the bottle was frosted with orange text on it.

Good luck with the tasting :D
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby beast89 » Tue May 14, 2013 11:57 pm

Malteriet wrote:Welcome to the good stuff ;)
To expand your vocabulary try if you can distinguish between smoke and peat. Some whiskies are very peaty, but have almost no smokiness.

Personally I am a big fan of the Ardbeg Corrywreckan, but if you would like to hop off Islay and try something peppery peaty, Talisker from Isle of Skye is also a great choice. Especially their 57* north or their 18 year old which are both outstanding.

I've recently tried an independent bottling of Bruichladdich at rum cask which was excellent. I don't remember the bottler, but the bottle was frosted with orange text on it.

Good luck with the tasting :D


Sorry to revive such an old thread, but can you elaborate a little bit on the distinction between peat and smoke? Perhaps you could give some examples of malts that are smokey but not peaty. And also some examples of malts that are peaty but not smokey? Thanks very much in advance to anybody who can help me out with this!
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby Ganga » Thu May 16, 2013 1:04 am

Peat - no smoke: Think earthy, mossy...like you just filtered water through the peat. I found Fettercairn to have such a character.

Smoke but not peat: I find occasionally that I get wood smoke instead of a peaty smoke. The wood smoke is similar to a campfire made from burning oak. This I seem to find in the occasional dram but not something that I would say is necessarily indicative of a distillery. I think Bowmore is more of a wood smoke than peat smoke as an example.
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby whiskgeek » Sat May 18, 2013 7:08 pm

The Bruichladdich PC7 and Octomore ranges have more peat and less smoke. Laga has a lovely wood smoke (or the good ones do, anyway). I recently had a Laphroaig Triplewood, which reminded me a lot of Lagavulin 16. Talisker doesn't really have a peat character, but it's smoky. Highland Park is... well, I can never put my finger on that one. It's too balanced to pick any one thing out. Caol Ila is... somebody help me out... Rubber?
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Re: Help out an Amateur Whisky Lover

Postby The Third Dram » Mon May 20, 2013 2:55 pm

beast89 wrote:...can you elaborate a little bit on the distinction between peat and smoke?

As others have alluded to above, the relationship between peat and smoke is far from a simple one.

The peat utilized by distilleries (or larger malting operations, the Port Ellen complex on Islay being but one example, from which most distilleries purchase their supplies) varies widely in degree of pungency, composition and texture. To cite a pair of examples, Bowmore's peat is finer and more crumbly (some writers have described it as "sandy") while Highland Park's is chunkier and contains traces of heather.

Top this scenario with other factors such as differing durations of malting as well as lengths of distillation and cask maturation (longer barrel ageing generally tends to diminish the apparent peatiness/smokiness), and you end up with basically endless possibilities.

Additionally, many malting operations (including on-site distillery ones such as Bowmore) 'juggle' their 'recipes' in terms of combining the times during which the germinated barley is infused by peat smoke and further dried by simple hot air.

Whiskies that are more 'peaty' than simply 'smoky'? Kilchoman immediately springs to mind. Those that are more 'smoky' than 'peaty'? Brora (with its diesel-fuel like smokiness) is a prime, though increasingly hard to track down, example. Whiskies that offer a complex array of 'peaty' and 'smoky' overtones? How about Ardbeg?

Malt whiskies can change over time, too. For instance, the 12-year old standard bottling of Lagavulin from the early 1980s was as 'farmyardy' as they come. But the current 16-year old version has both lessened the 'funkiness factor' as well as broadened the layering of the peat smoke.
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