I prefer peaty scotches - what would I like other than Laphroaig?
February 17, 2010 4:28 PM   Subscribe

I like really peaty scotches. Basically, every scotch I try I think, "well, it's OK, but I'd rather have a Laphroaig." What else should I be trying?

Also, does this just mean I have a really unrefined palate? I also prefer earthy reds, IPAs and french roasted coffees.
posted by bonecrusher to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
Glenrothes, maybe?
posted by Prospero at 4:30 PM on February 17, 2010

Caol Ila is one of my faves, peaty but not overwhelmingly so like Laphroaig.
posted by dragstroke at 4:38 PM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Talisker's nice if you like peaty.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well always be guided by your preference, but many other fine single malts are out there. They may seem kind of tame by comparison, but your palate will adjust.

Oban and Springbank come to mind. Any of the "flavored" Glenmorangies (Port Wood, Madeira Wood etc) may interest you as they are very distinctive.

As far as peat goes, there's Lagavulin (my fave for Islays) and of course, Peatmonster (too much for me, but follow your Zen).
posted by elendil71 at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh my, Lagavulin is incredible. Throwing in my vote for that one.
posted by a.steele at 4:45 PM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

I picked up a bottle of Dalwhinnie at Trader Joe's one time and noted that it was more like Laphraoig than I personally like. I am just not a fan of the more peaty scotches, so perhaps you would like it.

I also like earthy reds, IPAs and french roasted coffees, so I don't think there's anything wrong with your palate. It's all personal preference, in my book.
posted by waitangi at 4:52 PM on February 17, 2010

The scotches you should be looking for are Islay malts. They tend to be peatier (smokier) than the others. Others have mentioned a number of good examples of these. I personally am a fan of Ardbeg.

Also, no, this doesn't mean you have unrefined taste.
posted by kdar at 4:55 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Lagavulin. Lagavulin. Lagavulin.

Try other Islay malts as well. One I like quite a bit is Caol Ila.
Talisker deserves to be at least seconded, too.

But really, Lagavulin.
posted by mindwarp at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Ardbeg Beast release is incredible value for ~$80. Also seconding Islay in general.
posted by kcm at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2010

Laphroig had long been my favorite scotch. Then I tried a Lagavulin.

Seriously; Nthing Lagavulin.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Weighing in with Lagavulin also, 'tis like a Hebridean winter's evening in a glass. But if you really like your peaty phenols try an Ardbeg Supernova. Hefty. Or the Bruichladdich Octomore II.

Makes Laphroig taste like a Glenkinchie.

posted by theCroft at 5:06 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

In case you didn't notice me favoriting all the Lagavulin answers.


If your taste buds are immature, then so are mine, and long may we languish in our immaturity. Laphroig isn't half bad, and there are other peaty ones already answered above that I wouldn't kick out of the bed for being watery, but I think of Lagavulin whenever anyone mentions peaty scotch.
posted by Sk4n at 5:26 PM on February 17, 2010

nthing Talisker - it tastes like peat and seaweed
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:28 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Compass Box Peat Monster is a blend, but it is what it says. Also Lagavulin (all expressions), Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Laphroaig Cask Strength, Caol Isla, Ardberg.
posted by fixedgear at 5:32 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Talisker, Lagavulin, Oban.
posted by matildaben at 5:36 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Highland Park!
posted by Spinneret at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2010

I prefer Ardbeg to Laphroig (and both to Lagavulin). However - and this is probably just me - I have a splitting headache for 24 hours after even the smallest amount of Ardbeg. It's unfiltered, so that may have something to do with it. I'm actually getting a headache just thinking about it, but it's so tasty.

I also like earthy reds, french press coffee, and long walks on the beach. IPA, not so much.
posted by true at 5:51 PM on February 17, 2010

I love peaty and prefer the sparkle of Talisker to Laphroaig. I've never tried Lagavulin.
posted by Marquis at 6:01 PM on February 17, 2010

If you like Islays (and it sounds like you do) let me recommend Bunnahabhain. Their 12 year old goes for a ridiculously low $40 (or thereabouts) a fifth. Also, seconding the Oban if you want Peat but don't want an Islay.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:04 PM on February 17, 2010

I just remembered Connamera, a really great peaty single malt Irish whisk(e)y. Inexpensive, maybe $40.
posted by fixedgear at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2010

Talisker is the one I keep going back to.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:20 PM on February 17, 2010

nthing Talisker for peaty goodness. I like to taste the ancient bogs when I relax after work.
posted by sid at 6:22 PM on February 17, 2010

Nthing Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Talisker.

But yes also Highland Park - it's a real sleeper. Ignore the name; it tastes nothing like a Highland malt but maybe a bit more balanced than the knock you down of Lagavulin. (Sorry I'm no expert I just drink a lot.)
posted by drmarcj at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2010

I bought Ardberg's Uigeadail as a schmancy gift for a peat-lover and he likes it a lot. It tastes crazy at first, but if you let it sit out with an ice cube in it for a while it becomes slightly sweet (it's got a bit of the sherry cask). Really interesting stuff.
posted by wondermouse at 7:10 PM on February 17, 2010

Dalwhinnie is a Highland and not in the least peaty. It's delicious, but when I'm looking for peaty goodness, I pour either the Ardberg or the Talisker.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:19 PM on February 17, 2010

nthing Oban. I vastly prefer peaty and its very very nice :)
posted by supermedusa at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lagavulin is my favorite too, but my second choice is Cragganmore. Then Talisker, Oban, etc.
posted by axiom at 8:36 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by killy willy at 9:55 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, no Dalwhinnie for you. It is for me. Because I am the one who doesn't like peaty.

Once, at a bar that specialized in single malts, I read a description of a fine amber quaff. The list claimed that it "exploded in the back of the throat in a smoky burst of peat". I could not stop laughing.

You might like Highland Park. I tried the 18 year old.

You could look at For Peat Sake for suggestions, too.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:25 AM on February 18, 2010

This chart from the Scotch Whisky Research Institute might be helpful.
posted by dowcrag at 2:15 AM on February 18, 2010

As others have said, for peat your first port of call willl be Islay, ie where your Laphroaig is from. My personal favourite is the 16 year old Lagavulin, it has a kind of subtlety and complexity to its strong flavour that isn't present even in others from the island. The Talisker is peaty and pleasant but I find it more of a blunt instrument. The Bowmore for me is less peaty and perhaps more accessible to the non-peat lover. The Bruichladdich can be peaty but not as powerful, there are lots of different runs however (including lots of different variations on wine casks for finishing - we currently have one that tastes like a brandy flavoured whisky), so be careful about what you pick up and try to make sure it suits your needs. They do have some peaty variations in their range that are well reviewed, Their Port Charlotte offshoot may be of interest though I haven't tried it myself, the Port Charlotte PC5 Single Malt is 40ppm which is plenty peaty.
Staying with islay then the simpl, straightforward and often reasonably priced 10yr Ardbeg is a pleasant entry peaty experience that will still keep you happy further down the line, a very clean crisp taste that you can glug all night, if necessary. Personally I have found the Ardbeg Uigedail to be a bit disappointing, I'd rather have the 10 yr old at the same price, happily its a lot cheaper. You should be aware there are very separate bottlings available and that they score very differently in Murray's whisky bible.

The Highland Park is certainly peaty but for me brings in too much iodine, I have some 16 year old in at the moment and find it too medicinal to be regularly enjoyable, the 18 is the one that people tend to rave about.

There is currently a bit of a battle amongst some distilleries to 'out-peat' each other. This blog mentions two of the contenders but I think there are a couple more, The Octomore that is mentioned claims 140ppm which should make it a smack in the taste buds for anyone who doesn't get their kicks from licking out an ashtray, but there are reports it is not a brilliant whisky (5 yrs old) and isn't as one might expect.
posted by biffa at 2:29 AM on February 18, 2010

If you're looking to get kicked in the face with a tasty mud-covered boot, then Ardbeg 10yo.
Be wary however as they have recently started fucking with their recipe (so it seems). The more recent bottlings of the 10 taste quite different to those put on the shelf 2-3 years back. Not sure what the deal is, but if you can find an older bottle, maybe bottled around 2006 to be on the safe side, then you should have what you're looking for.

Others have given some great suggestions. Basically, if you're looking for peat, Islay and Skye are the regions you want. Heavy on the peat and also seaweed. Lots of different tastes to play around with.

The thing about these kind of malts is that they will fuck up your tastebuds (and possibly the rest of you) for the rest of the evening. If you are going to be tasting more delicate blends, do them first. Islay and Skye malts are very overpowering.

I had a Nikka 12yo (Japanese) recently that had some decent peat to it. Can't for the life of me remember what it was called. So if you're feeling adventurous, you might try some whiskies from further afield. Plenty of whisky blogs out there to point you in the right direction.
posted by CardinalRichelieuHandPuppet at 3:22 AM on February 18, 2010

I like Highland Park too. It's somehow both more refined and more unhinged than Laphroaig.
posted by hawthorne at 4:26 AM on February 18, 2010

I also recommend Ardberg's Uigeadail: amazingly rich and smoky.

Please do not put ice in it though. Many of the aromatic compounds in malt whisky only vaporize at room temperature: if you chill it you kill all the subtle flavours you've spent your money on. Putting ice in single malt whisky is like buying a vintage red wine and sticking it in the fridge for three hours before you drink it. Instead, add a small amount of water if it's too strong or burns.

Off-topic, for any London-based whisky lovers, the big tasting event Whisky Live London is on 26th-27th Feb, well worth it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:41 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Isle of Islay single malts ... Talisker is good
posted by jannw at 4:41 AM on February 18, 2010

Going to throw in a wildcard here but there is a new distillery on the Isle of Lewis which will release it's first malt next year.

Noone knows what it will taste like yet but it's Scotland's most nor'westerly distillery making it's uisge beatha with water from the Harris hills on a wild, peat covered island at the edge of the Atlantic in a distinctly artisan fashion.

I suspect it will give the smokey Islays a run for their money eventually.

Abhainn Dearg.
posted by theCroft at 7:01 AM on February 18, 2010

Anyway, I would say that Dalwhinnie is the exact opposite of what you want, it's very sweet and light. Personally, I really like Laphroaig 15 myself. I find it to be the best balanced of the scotchs I've tried. But Lagavulin (like many many other people have said) is generally considered to be peaty-scotch royalty.

And I actually consider liking peaty scotches to be MORE refined. You have to really like scotch to get past the fact that it tastes like embalming fluid ; )
posted by ghostiger at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2010

After asking about a half-remember smoky scotch, I've been tasting my way through the Islay distilleries. I recommend you do the same, starting with Ardbeg and Lagavulin.

I am a better person because of peaty Scotches.
posted by paulg at 4:11 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

And, being a bit of a Scotch pedant, @jannw, I must point out that Talisker is made on the Isle of Skye not Islay.
posted by paulg at 4:14 PM on February 18, 2010

as mentioned repeatedly, Islay is the way to go. If you can get your hands on a double matured Lagavulin, go for it! Also, if you like these smoky/peaty flavors, you might like Lapsang Souchong tea.
posted by meijusa at 12:34 AM on February 19, 2010

Another Ardbeg enthusiast here. My cabinet has the Airigh Nam Beist, Uigeadaill, and the regular 10 year. Of the three, the Uiggy is the gnarliest and probably the best, imo. An amazing, amazing whisky. I also keep Laphroaig 15 and Quarter Cask, Bowmore, Lagavulin 16, and sometimes a Bruichladdich or two.

Of those, all the Ardbegs are superb, and the Lagavulin 16 stands out as a real complex expression.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:29 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you like Laphroaig, I'd recommend drinking the 15 year old for comparison. Gorgeous.
However, I do have relatives who refer to all Laphroaigs as "burnt log".
posted by mdoar at 9:36 AM on February 22, 2010

Greg Nog: Owing directly to your comment above, I have now tried Bruichladdich's PC6.
Indeed, it was extremely excellent. I wholeheartedly join you in recommending it to all lovers of (peaty) scotch. Thanks so much for the tip!
posted by mindwarp at 5:00 PM on March 4, 2010

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