Whisky Review: Laphroaig


Laphroaig is, for my money, one of the top 5 single malts. Just.

Of the Western Isles it’s one of the smokier whiskies, falling somewhere between Lagavulin and Jura, but not too smokey, like the latter. You can still enjoy the subtle flavours beneath the peat, which the tube helpfully tells me is nutty barley, and the sweet Islay streams.

Best enjoyed by a large inglenook fire to warm yourself after a stroll in the winter snow, do not – as the distillery suggest – mix it with water. A little ice if you must. The strong comforting flavour will warm you quite effectively.

That same flavour would make this dreadful in a hot toddy, completely overpowering the lemon and honey. It would be utterly spoilt by the angostura in a well prepared Old Fashioned.

These are the highly subjective and unscientific measures by which I shall, henceforth, review whisky (no pun intended).

Positive scores (these are high in good whiskies):

Taste: 7    Comfort: 8   Enjoyment: 8

Negative scores (these are low in good whiskies):

Morning repercussions: 2    Old fashioned: 3    Hot Toddy: 3

Total: +23 -8 = 15

This might seem a low score, but I’m a harsh judge of whisky. Only 3 or 4 score higher. Few score double figures.

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Whisky review: Port Ellen

Bit of a special one this, but everyone gets it wrong. Port Ellen is my whisky number three in my all time favourites list. I don’t get to drink much of it courtesy of the fact that all the Port Ellen there ever will be already is.

Although the maltings still supply other distilleries, the Port Ellen distillery itself closed in 1983. And that’s why everyone gets it wrong. They all go out and buy (and ooze over) the 1983 but the real prize is the ‘82.

It’s softer than the average Islay, sitting between Bunnahabain’s almost peat free flavour and Lagavulin’s warm winter flavours. But it’s almost sweet.

I haven’t tried Port Ellen in either an Old Fashioned or a Hot Toddy, and frankly if you do, I’ll be around your house like a shot. And when I say like a shot, the only smoke you’ll be experiencing will be from the barrel of my shotgun. A fitting punishment for wasting this precious limited resource.

Positive scores:

Taste: 8     Comfort: 8    Enjoyment: 8

Negative scores:

Morning repercussions: 3    Old fashioned: 0    Hot Toddy: 0

Total: +24 – 3 = 21

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