Whiskey Friday – Laphroaig 18 Year Old

Tonight is our favorite Scottish holiday, Burns Night. How do we celebrate? By drinking whisky, obviously! Today also happens to be Whiskey Friday, the newest weekly addition to Guyism.

Colin Joliat

Colin Joliat

Whiskey Friday is one of the finest traditions in the drinking world. It was first introduced to me by Baratunde Thurston, and though not always publicly, I have carried it on ever since. As a way to further justify drinking every week, I’m bringing the habit to Guyism. Each Friday we’ll present a different whiskey. There will be new spirits, industry staples, and even a few off-the-wall options. It may not be what I’m drinking at the moment – I’m not made of money – but each will be something I’ve had recently.

Given that it’s Burns Night, it seems like scotch is an obvious choice to kick things off. As you can see from the picture, I’ve decided to go with Laphroaig 18 Year Old single malt. The distillery is located on Islay so you can read quite a bit into the whisky even before pouring a glass. The area is notorious for big, smokey, and peaty whiskys. Laphroaig is no exception; in fact, I’ve heard a friend describe this spirit as “liquid campfire.” While that description is entertaining, it’s hyperbole. The 18 Year is about as smooth as the come for a smokey whisky.

More so than most, Laphroaig is a divisive distillery. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but the brand has as many detractor as they do supporters. I stand firmly on the side of those in favor. I took a spin around a few review sites and saw the term “band-aid” occasionally thrown around regard to the flavor. I don’t get that it at all when drinking the 18. What they read as medicinal, I taste as peat. I guess one man’s treasure really is another man’s Nickleback.

At $80-$100 a pop, you may want to try a dram before you buy a bottle. I highly recommend you do so though because it quickly moved up my list of standbys.

If you have a favorite you think should be celebrated on Whiskey Friday, let me know! I’m always open to suggestions. colin@guyism.com

Tasting notes from the distiller:

Color: Bright gold

Nose: At bottling strength, a soft toffee sweet, faintly spicy flavor counterbalances the trace of delicate phenols and fruit. There is an all-encompassing smoothness when these are all brought together. Adding a touch of water allows the seaweed and salt to come through but not enough to overpower the vanilla and honey sweetness with just a trace of new mown hay and peat at the finish.

Body: An intense depth that is exceptionally balanced and warming

Taste: An instant warming tang of smoke that fades into smooth floral scents and blends seamlessly into an oaky nuttiness and leaves a lasting sweetness on the taste. With a touch of water the peaty warmth fills the mouth but does not overshadow the sweet chocolate smoothness. This is balanced by the rich toffee taste and slowly fades into a delicate hint of heather and peat smoke.

Finish: Full bodied, long with a luxurious oily smoothness