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Newbie Looking for Smoke

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Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby Palamedes » Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:54 pm

Hello to all,

As the title suggests, I am rather new to whisky... However the other day, I came into possession of a bottle of Laphroaig QC.

Now I have had my fair share of cheap whisky, but nothing in comparison to Laphroaig. My problem is, the raw alcohol in the QC, to me, overpowers and takes away from all the other flavors. More specifically, the smoke. From other posts, I am guessing that this sensation would be refereed to as the "iodine" or "medicine" like taste, but I cannot be too sure.

I love all things smokey, but realizing that my palette may not be developed enough to fully enjoy Laphroaig, my question is: Are there any whiskys that one can recommend that are smokey, yet not overpowering with the raw alcohol kick that Laphroaig gives? Ideally, I would like to work my way up to the Laphroaig, Ardbeg etc, but don't really know where to start.

Upon looking through the forum, I see that Talisker 10y or the Highland Park 12y are quite popular among the beginners of the bunch, but would they be something that I am looking for (again, smoke smoke smoke)>?

Thanks all and happy drinking..

Pal
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby Ganga » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:40 pm

Highland Park 12 varies a little bit in the amount of smoke. Somewhere, you can find tasting notes on this whisky. Off the top of my head, honey heather with a whisky smoke comes to mind as the basic profile.

Talisker 10 is more spicey and waxy with light smoke.

Youngish Bowmore reminds me more of a wood smoke than a peat smoke. In addition, there are floral notes.
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby bredman » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:28 pm

Palamedes wrote:
Are there any whiskys that one can recommend that are smokey, yet not overpowering with the raw alcohol kick that Laphroaig gives?


Welcome to the forum. The Lappy QC is a little rough around the edges imo. The 10yo would be more approachable for an inexperienced palate.

Many people jump in at the deep end and just go for the big peaty ones, in fact they are the gateway into whisky for many. Lagavulin 16 goes down easy and is the easiest Laga to find (they do a more expensive 12yo that has more punch), there are many Caol Ila with varying levels of peat/smoke and Caol Ila is another great distillery. Ardbeg is fantastic stuff imo, the 10yo and Uigeadail are as good as peatsmoke gets for the money.

So they^ are the big four i suppose (all from Islay), Kilchoman is also heavily peated and located on Islay, and Bowmore and Talisker are down the peat scale but offer smoke.

Longrow is heavily peated but less pronounced with smoke, more farmyardy (and very nice). Other distilleries are offering peated batches like Benriach or Bladnoch but you will need to double check your buying a peated bottling.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby opelfruit » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:54 pm

You could go for something like "Smokehead" whichi is an un-named distillery bottled by Ian Macleod. It's probably a young Lagavulin.

You can get peated Speysiders too, Benriach do a range called Curiositas which uses heavily peated barley and is very good.

both avaliable online from good retailers (thewhiskyexchange or masterofmalt)


.....as previous people have suggested too; if you want smoke and you want it from a supermarket then walk in and pick up a bottle of Lagavulin 16yo - you aint gonna get more smoke than that. It's like Lapsang Souchong (heavily smoked black tea).
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby Palamedes » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:23 am

Thank you for all your responses.

It sounds like Lagavulin 16y is where I should venture on with. Interestingly, the 12 y and 16y are the same price around my way?!? Benriach also sounds appealing, and at half the price of the Lagavulin, I might just start with that.

I only wish that I had access to "taster" bottles of whisky which the rest of the world is privy to. Liquor is so heavily taxed here that 4 drinks at a bar costs the same as a bottle in stores! Oh well... such is life.

Thanks again,

Pal
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby opelfruit » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:34 am

My experience with Benriach across their range has been sublime, the Curiositas isn't the best Benriach I've had (that's because everything I've had is outstanding) but it is smokey and a great one for smoke fans - I just prefer my Ardbeg if I'm peating it out.

Be careful with the Lagavulins; the 12year old is not the same as the 16year old! The 12yo is small batch, cask strength un-filtered and not sherried.

The 16yo is chill-filtered, standard strength, mass produced and sherried.

They are totally different animals, the 12 is not really "smokey" but more "peatey". It's one of my favourite drams but if you want smoke with your Laga then pick up the 16yo.
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby Wee Robbie » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:55 pm

+1 on the Caol Ila 12. It was the dram that started my Islay journey. Very Nice. I too am a fan of Benriach Curiositas, enjoying a bottle now, a peated speysider but a little young. I am also a fan of Smokehead again young but very tasty.
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby Palamedes » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:51 am

Thanks for the input. I went with the bottle of Benriach Curiositas to refine my taste before delving into the more sophisticated whiskys. I can't wait to try it!

I looked for Caol Ila 12 but it would seem no one carries it around my way. I did however stumble upon another peated whisky by the name of Connemara. I was told that it is rather smooth, peated and smoky. Any thoughts?

Thanks again,

Pal
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby Ganga » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:08 pm

Connemara is a peated Irish whiskey. I think it is pretty good.
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby bredman » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:04 am

Connemara is lovely stuff. Try the Single Cask bottling if you can find it, it's top notch. It's an Irish single malt, distilled twice in the Scottish style. It's only lightly peated compared with the Islay stuff. Their heavier peated stuff is called Connemara Turf Mor and also goes down well. I seem to remember the LCBO got some of the Turf Mor, dunno if it made it's way out far west though.

Don't fear the Islay stuff. Just get stuck in. I see the Laga 12 is the same price as the 16, if i was you i'd snaffle a bottle of the 12yo before that changes -- it'll keep. :smoke:
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby mzporto » Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:30 pm

Hello sir. Sorry if my english is imprecise. I'm Brazilian and a total smokehead for whiskies.

Before venturing into the higher-end peated whiskies, I would recommend you to try your Laphro Quarter Cask with a dash of water. The Laphro 18YO and QC tastes almost like cask strenght.

After tasting the Laphro, I would recommend you to try one of each of the basics: Lagavulin 16, Laphroaig 10, Caol Ila 12 and Ardbeg 10. You will probably identify with one of them, and then you can try their higher-end products.

I am a huge fan of both, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. Lagavulin also produces the 12YO, which is Cask Strenght and really peated, and also the Distiller's Edition, which, If I am not mistaken, is aged in Pedro Ximenes casks, which will grant it some sweetness, absent in most other peated whiskies.

Ardbeg produces the Corryvreckan, which is also heavy on the smoke and ABV, which you may want to save for later when you are more used to the peated bottles.

If you prefer the Laphro, you shoud really buy the 18YO. It corrects the roughness of the Quarter Cask, adding some sweetness and depth.

And if you are a millionare, just get a Port Ellen.
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby VT Mike » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:26 am

You could also try Black Bottle blended scotch. It's quite smokey, but a lot softer than any of the heavily peated single malts.
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Re: Newbie Looking for Smoke

Postby gorty » Sat Dec 07, 2013 7:23 pm

the Islay whiskies are known for smokiness, except Bunnahabhain. Talisker too. I'm a fan of peat and smoke. Try Douglas Laing's 'Big Peat', it's a blend of Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen, it's not as full on as it sounds, a nice dram at a reasonable price.
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