Laphroaig Malt Whisky
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  • In Gaelic, the language of the people who once occupied the greater part of the kingdom, ‘whisky’ means ‘the water of life’ and the effect of a good whisky on a glum person can be quite interesting
  • One of the favourite malts that can be found in the ancient kingdom of Scotland is to be found on a small island off the west coast called, ‘Islay’

    • by Anglecynn
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      In Gaelic, the language of the people who once occupied the greater part of the kingdom, ‘whisky’ means ‘the water of life’ and the effect of a good whisky on a glum person can be quite interesting. There are some of us in Scotland who may be considered to have been born ‘two whiskies’ up on the rest of humanity. The simple reason for this is that whisky is seen by many in Scotland as something of a tonic. Don’t get me wrong, it is alcohol and must be treated with caution, but there can be no doubt that it can be a revivifying and enlivening drink which tea and coffee cannot approach!

      In tradition, whisky was often produced in a form called ‘poteen’, which is a raw spirit, not far from the likes of vodka. In fact, it is pure spirit in this form and would be noted for its strength and relative lack of flavour. So, what marks out a great whisky and why?

      There are three kinds of Scotch whisky. The smallest number of whiskies in these three groups are those which are pure grain. In fact, you


      would be hard pushed to find such whiskies outside a specialist whisky shop. Grain whisky is fine in its own way, but it lacks something which marks Scotch out as the world-leader in whiskies; that is the malt whiskies.

      I am going to make a brief detour via the ‘blended whiskies’, as so many well-known Scotches fall into this category. The likes of Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Haig, J & B and many other well-known and well-loved brands fall into this category. Based on a grain whisky base, with a generous admixture of a malt, or usually a mixture of pure malts, these whiskies have conquered the world. Due to their blend, they can offer a choice of flavour that a pure malt cannot compete with, as it can only be what it is, by definition.

      However, do not be fooled into thinking that there is anything remotely inferior about the Scotch malt whisky. This is, if anything, the closest thing to perfection in a spirit drink that you can find. French brandies (cognac) and Armagnac are similarly flavoursome and intense. However, even the French, a notably patriotic race, especially in ...


      • matters relating to food and drink, are now big fans of Scotch malt whiskies.

        One of the favourite malts that can be found in the ancient kingdom of Scotland is to be found on a small island off the west coast called, ‘Islay’. Despite the spelling, the name is pronounced, ‘Eye-la’, with the ‘s’ silent. It doesn’t rhyme with ‘day’, but with ‘Tampa’. This small island is home to several distilleries, but one of those is noted for its intense, peaty, smoky malt whisky. That whisky is called, ‘Laphroaig’, and, being a Norse/Gaelic name, it is pronounced, ‘La-froyg’ which doesn’t rhyme with anything in English!

        Laphroaig benefits from a combination of the water of Islay which flows through the peat bogs that cover the island. This gives the water a quality which would be entirely absent from, say, tap water. In other words, it has flavour. Moreover, the barley used is 30 percent malted, adding even more texture to the flavour. As if this wasn’t enough, the entire process is near the sea and, in common with one or two other west coast malt whiskies, the effect of the

        sea’s influence is detectable in the flavour. Indeed, in common with other Scotch whiskies, it is best drunk with a decent admixture of water; nothing else!

        Finally, to add to the distinctive taste of this king of malt whiskies, the spirit is added to bourbon barrels, a practice which is not-uncommon is this industry which also uses other barrels to flavour its produce. The end result, an aged malt whisky like Laphroaig, is an explosive, powerful taste that some adore and some, let’s be frank, loathe. It is a drink that is as different from the more mainstream blended whiskies as Lapsang suchong tea is to Earl Grey. They are so different as to seem to be unrelated. This makes Laphroaig a bit of a cult drink. In the book, ‘The Eiger Sanction’, the hero, Jonathan Hemlock, a professional assassin, is noted for his enjoyment of the finer things in life such as original works of art by masters of the Impressionist era, living in an unusual house (a converted church) and drinking – Laphroaig.It is a drink for the few who appreciate the different and the special, but it isn’t for everbody.




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