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A Man, His Passion, and a Vespa: The Recipe for a Whisky Odyssey

Imagine that you're on vacation, sipping a glass of your favorite whisky while relaxing outside of your hotel on the Scottish isle of Jura. Suddenly, a man arrives on a Vespa loaded up with camping equipment and painting supplies. Intrigued, you strike up a conversation and learn that his name is Ben Birdsall, and that he has just arrived from Switzerland to travel the Scottish Highlands and Isles, hopping from distillery to distillery along the way."Are you an alcoholic?" You ask. "No," He replies. "Are you wanted by the police?" asks a friend. Birdsall retorts: "Not yet."

Suntory Buys Beam

13 January 2014 - It was announced today that Suntory is buying Beam Inc. for $16 billion. So far I have no information  how this will affect the brands. Suntory already owns Morrison Bowmore Distillers which has Bowmore while the Beam deal will bring Laphroaig into the Suntory fold. Beam also owns Teacher's, while MBD doesn't really bother about the blended Scotch category. It'll be interesting to see if the QC and blend work on Laphroaig and Teacher's stays with personnel currently with Beam in the UK or whether they shift over to MBD.

Laphroaig QA

This Laphroaig is only available in Travel Retail. It is first aged in ex-bourbon like usual and then moved to charred American white oak which is called Quercus Alba, hence the QA name.This time in the QA should impart much more bourbon whiskey characteristics, especially vanilla.  I have not had this or even seen it yet, but i can't wait to try it!

Laphroaig PX

This Laphroaig is only available to travel retail. I want to tell you all that from now. It is first aged in American oak, followed by the quarter cask. Then it finally goes into Pedro Ximenez (PX) casks. PX is quite a heavy sherry so it imparts quite a bit on any whisky that is finished in it. This bottle is at 48% ABV, which is nice (just like the quarter cask). This should really give it quite a heavy body and probably will take some time for you to get a full taste of.  If you like Laphroaig, this is one to try. It has been getting very great reviews too!

Laphroaig Triple Wood

This Laphroaig is aged at first like the quarter cask. it is in ex bourbon casks followed by the small "quarter casks". Then it is aged in the european oak sherry casks. This version is at 48% which does so much for it. This also is another great example of a nice NAS (No age statement) scotch which should be liked by any peat drinker. 

Laphroaig 25

This is the true gentleman's Laphroaig because it is aged for 25 years in both sherry and bourbon barrels. It picks up the sherry character and more sweetness from the bourbon barrels. It still has the peat but smooths it all out so much more and balances the flavors in a different way. Unfortunately this is only 40% ABV compared to the older cask strength versions but it still is an experience for anyone who loves Laphroaig and wants to see how age affects it. 

Laphroaig 18 year

This 18 year is a whole different beast from what you would expect from Laphroaig. It still has the Laphroaig taste, but is much more tame. It has much more oak influence and is smoother with vanilla and caramel coming out to help with the peat blast. It has the fruit as well. 

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

This Laphroaig is a No age statement (NAS) expression. It is first aged in the traditional ex-bourbon barrels and then spends some time in quarter casks which are litterally just very small casks. The change of surface area to volume ratio allows more wood to come in contact with the whisky, which will impart more effects in a much shorter time. 

Laphroaig 10 year Cask Strength

This is batch 3 of the cask strength 10 year old Laphroaig. It is the 10 year to the extreme. There is more intense flavor of everything from the regular 10 year. If you already like peaty whisky and love high proof stuff or want an intro to high proof stuff, this is one to try.  I would stay away from this if you haven't had a peaty whisky before, because it may discourage you from trying others due to being quite pungent. I wouldn't want to deter you from one of the greats in whisky, especially for the price. 

Laphroaig 10 year

Laphroaig is one of my favorite whisky brands of all time and this 10 year old was my first introduction to the power of peat.  It is the typical medicinal (iodine), peaty mess that us peat heads crave. The great part is that there still is a little sweetness that comes out along with a bit of salt.    It just puts everyting together so well, so if you haven't tried a peaty whisky yet, this should be your first intro.