The extremely peat forward and distinct smokiness of most Islay malts will most likely be too much for the palate of someone new to scotch, but the more subdued and lighter nature of Laphoraig Select is perfect for those looking to get in to the world the Islay scotch. Plus, if straight scotch is still not your game, I’ve included a cocktail recipe based on Laphoraig Select. It’s still extremely scotch forward, yet very accessible.
Laphoraig Select’s nose punches you hard and early with a pure alcohol lead, but then opens up a bit on closer whiffs, revealing a distinct peat and earthy tones with just a hint of sweetness and oaky tinges. The palate is what truly separates Laphoraig Select from other Islay malts, and it’s older and more mature sibling Laphoraig 10. Smokey notes initiate the palate first with a refined and constrained peaty taste that’s not overwhelming, and the palate finishes with a bit of vanilla sweetness and woody aspects. It finishes clean with a bit of lingering alcohol taste and oak notes from the barrels.
If scotch cocktails are more your thing, I’d highly recommend the Laphroaig Dad’s Smoky Dram created by Chicago mixologist Patrick Natola. In an ice-filled shaker add 1 1/2 parts Laphroaig Select, 1 part sweet vermouth and 1/2 part Campari, stirring lightly. Strain over a cocktail glass with a single spherical ice cube and enjoy. The result is a great cocktail that is still pure Laphoraig Select, yet still calm and accessible. The sweet vermouth opens up the palate a bit and calms the Islay malt with its slight sweetness, while the Campari adds a distinct rooty and herb-like flavor. This makes a truly unbeatable cocktail to enjoy on a hot summer evening.
Laphoraig Select is a a great representation of what Islay malts have to offer, but it’s accessible to newbie scotch drinkers, or even those who are a bit peat adverse. Pick one up and start begin your journey through all the complexities and beauty the scotch world has to offer.