Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Lassie's top 10 memorable drams for 2015 - #4 The redemption dram

Relaxing in our wellies!!
If you've been following my adventures all year you know that I spent 10 magical days on Islay. I went to every single distillery, sometimes twice. I was warned by several people that Feis Ile is not for the faint of heart. If you hate crowds, don't go. If you hate standing in line for anything, don't go and especially if you hate being surrounded by BFK's (big feeling knobs) -> DON'T GO!!!! But, I went anyway because it's my firm belief you are only supposed to get one kick at this can we call life and I'm going to dent the shit out of mine with every opportunity that is presented.

Many people who have gone to Islay for years will also tell you that Feis Ile has somewhat ruined the quiet, laid back attitude about the island and its whiskies. Going to Feis Ile involves planning your accommodations and reservations up to one year in advance. It also means getting online at the wee hours of the day in some cases to try and get tickets for some of the events the distilleries will be holding. 

Another thing that has completely ruined Feis Ile for many people is the ridiculous length some people will go to buy the exclusive festival distillery bottlings and of course the outrageous prices. Case in point: Bowmore released a 26 year old vintage 1988 with only 248 bottles available for £350. People camped overnight in the rain to get a bottle... and then the very next day, many could be found on auction sites for double the price. Greed... ruins everything eventually. 

But I'm not here to judge. If that's what some people want to do more power to them, as I've stated many times before it's not about the money and it's not even about the whiskies sometimes.

Case in point. Laphroaig day ended up being a complete shit show for Graham and me. It started well enough but then quickly went from having someone almost throw up in the back of our rental, to being lost and late for the one event we had booked, to not getting any food or seeing anything else that day because it was all over and done with by the time we came out of our event. It was rather disappointing indeed. 

So... not being deterred we went back with Thomas and Ansgar Speller after Feis Ile was completely done and that's when we were redeemed. The four of us had the most glorious day hiking around those parts of the distillery, tasting whiskies, finding our Friends of Laphroaig (FoL) plots and having the day we were meant to have but in a much more quiet, relaxed and fun environment. We were back on Islay time and it was fabulous.  

The biggest dilemma Graham and I often have when we travel is not only how much to bring back but what. Although I did try many of the Feis bottlings we were very particular about the ones we did bring home (we didn't get that Bowmore, btw... hehe) I tried the Laphroaig Feis offering twice while we were on the island and both times Graham said: "want to buy this one?" and all I could say was "Meh".... It's not that it wasn't a good whisky it just didn't speak to me like some of the others had.

So, after we were pretty much done our afternoon at Laphroaig we returned our wellies and went to the shop for one last chance to buy the Feis bottling. The kind person behind the counter watched me intently and asked me what I didn't like about it. I explained it simply wasn't grabbing my attention. He smiled a devilish grin and pulled out dram #4...  

After my first sip I looked over at Graham and he smiled. Yes!!!! -> it screamed, Take me home woman! No words were spoken as he knew I had found the one coming back with us to Canada. 
Unfortunately this is no longer available for purchase so I feel even more lucky to have tried and purchased it which is really too bad because I think this is one of the best Laphroaig's I've tasted in a long time. I should have bought two!!!

Dram #4 - Laphroaig 10, Cask Strength Batch 007, 56.3% ABV

Nose: Meaty smoke! A picture of a smokey BBQ pulled pork sandwich popped into my head. Once that settles the backdrop of the beach & bonfire appeared followed by baking spices. 

Palate: PEAT!! Probably one of the peatiest whiskies I recall in years. Clean sweet citrus explosion, a bit phenolic/carbolic. 

Finish: Long lingering warm, spicy and with the antiseptic feel of the phenols. WARMS THE BELLY!

This is peat, peat peat all the way... We loved it so much we opened it less than two weeks after we were home: June 18th. Last drams were shared with my ladies' whisky posse on October 19th which is probably one of the fastest bottle drains I can recall!? 

In passing, my friend Donna (she's holding the bottle in the photo) HATED peated whiskies 5 years ago. Not only did she taste this one, she loved it so much she had 3 drams. I had to send her husband John a photo as proof we've completely converted her ;)

Cheers from the ladies posse and thank you Laphroaig for this really great Islay time dram!


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