Islay flashback

I recently read a blog post on ScotchBlog about their pilgrimage to Lagavulin. It reminded me of my trip to Scotland and Islay that I undertook in July 2011. This trip was before my current whisky passion, which was unfortunate for me but not so for my wife.

Then there was a very informative Twit conversation between ScotchBlog (@scotchblog), WhiskyBrother (@WhiskyBrother) and myself (@TheSmokyDram), with maybe just a wee bit TMI from WhiskyBrother.

All this helped me have a little Islay flashback. However, unlike the weather ScotchBlog had, where “the sun shone down gloriously from a pristine blue sky”, the weather I had been decidedly more overcast, windy and misty (as my two photos below will show) – perfect to have a dram or two to steel yourself for the next walk outside.

Back to the Twit conversation and the one question that came up was around if you could return to your favourite whisky destination/place/memory. For me the answer was not so easy. Once the various voices and personalities battled it out in my head, two remained victorious as my favourite of favourite places on Islay. The first was the Whisky Distillery that got me started on my whisky passion and will always hold a special place in my collection, Laphroaig:

Laphroaig_Smoky Dram_Arnold Photography

This was followed very closely by the other distillery that brings back many a great memories for me, Ardbeg, with their fiery peaty whiskies:

Ardbeg_Smoky Dram_Arnold Photography

These pictures and fond memories now make me want to return, and I know that I will one day return to that wonderful spiritual home many of us call Islay.

What are your memories of Islay? Let me know in comments below.


 The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Laphroaig 10yo

I thought to start my review of whiskies’ section with the whisky that started it all for me, the Laphroaig 10yo

Laphroaig 10yo Smoky DramWhisky: Laphroaig 10, 43% ABV (Cost around R500)

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 10 Years

Laphroaig, pronounced “La-froyg”, is a Gaelic word meaning “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay”. A very characteristic Islay dram. Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of the Prince of Wales. It was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery in 1994.

Colour: Sparkling burnished gold

Nose: Oodles of camp fire and smoke, sea weedy and salty sea air (harbour and fishing nets), spices, medicinal with a lovely back hint of caramel sweetness. Despite all the smoke on the nose it is a very clean nose – cool clean smoke.

Palate: Loads of smoke and peat with hints of sweetness, sea salt and seaweed (fishing nets again), oak wood, has a spiciness (black pepper) and richness about it

Body: Full bodied, gorgeous thick and slow legs with an explosion of peat when you swallow.

Finish: Gorgeous with long and lingering savoury smokiness. Very satisfying.

Overall: For me an undeniably wonderful dram. It has enormous smoke and peat, manages a hint of sweetness and yet also has a cleanness and delicateness about it. This is an either you love it or hate it kind of dram, there is no middle ground. For me – I absolutely love it.

My Score: 89