Bruichladdich (10 year) – The Laddie Ten

With barley grown in Scotland, distilled and aged under Jim McEwan’s watchful eye, and bottled at a laudable 46% ABV without chill-filtration or added coloring, it was bound to make a big splash. It ticks all of the boxes for me: independent ownership, responsible quality-minded production, craft presentation, and all with medium levels of peat to better showcase the character of the spirit and the quality of the wood.

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Distillery Visit: Lost Spirits

My visit to Lost Spirits distillery in Salinas, CA, and my first taste of their unusual peated American single malt whiskey.

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Ledaig (10 year)

A nose overly dominant with peat is improved by better balance on the tongue and in the finish. While still less focused and more “dirty” (in the sense of the assorted unpleasant side-effects of peat) than similarly-priced Islays, there is reasonable complexity.

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Tobermory (10 year)

This is akin to 10 year-old Springbank in many ways – from the earthy “not quite smokey” peat, to the industrial oily notes, and the emphasis on barrel char. At around $55, there isn’t a lot of reason to recommend this 10 year-old.

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Glenmorangie Finealta

I’m not sure if this evokes the era of the Savoy Hotel or the Age of Enlightenment or whatever the website says, but it’s a fine, straightforward dram with a lot of refined flavor.

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Black Bottle Blended Scotch

Black Bottle tends to win a lot of awards and has quite a following, even among malt-heads. Oh, here’s the kicker: the bottle’s about $20 in the US. … Either way, I’m calling it a “Must Have” because you can’t find a better peated blend – or almost any blend, for that matter – for this price.

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Ardbeg Galileo

This is a particularly sweet, aromatic whisky with a very muted peat profile. If someone handed me a glass, I can honestly say I would enjoy drinking it. Alas, this whisky is not worth the (exceptional) effort required to secure a bottle.

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Kilchoman Machir Bay

Subtle and accomplished, if light. The peat is masterfully understated, and plays beautifully with the naturally sweet lemon, honey, and floral elements. Don’t let the ‘light’ moniker distract from the fact that this is very highly peated malt, with far more subtlety than, say, Laphroaig, but a lot more power and sinus-burning peat than Highland Park. It does very much stand alone among the Islay malts, though, being light and playful, but also masterful and persuasive.

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Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition (1995)

Okay. Yeah, it’s aged in PX sherry, which is a big deal, but… this particular expression falls short with me. I’d stick to the 16, and get my sherry kick elsewhere.

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Arran Machrie Moor

It’s moderately well-balanced, but it’s neither particularly complex nor particularly exciting. It’s also been bottled far too young. Arran die-hard fans would be interested to see what smoking does to their favorite malt, but the rest of us shouldn’t offer more than a shrug.

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