For you, Mr. Suarez, I recommend the absolute worst single malt that I could find- the Loch Dhu 10 YO. Quoted on Whiskyfun as Aqua Crematoria. If only your presence on the football landscape could become as sparse as Loch Dhu's on the single maltscape. Not even going to bother adding an image!
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After an epic match that ended at 5-1, both sides have reason to drink a dram or two. I'll recommend some for what were my stars of the day- Iker Casillas and Arjen Robben. Casillas, you might do well to sit down with an Auchentoshan Three Wood, letting its toffee, fruit and sherry relieve your heavy heart. And you Robben- you with the untiring feet and relentless pace, to you I recommend something native to my country- Amrut Single Malt Cask Strength, bottled at a whopping 61.8% ABV!
My usual malt retailer recently began stocking bottles of a name I had not heard of before- Tomintoul (pronounced tom-int-owl). I went for the standard 10 year old variety, and before I get to the tasting notes, this is what I gathered through some research (mostly Whiskyfun!).
Up until 2000, the Tomintoul distillery produced malt for whisky blends, but under new management they began bottling and selling the 10 year old single malt expression. The range has expanded since then, and there was a peaty version at the store that I might try next time. But I don't expect it to be like the stunning Benriach 21 YO Peated, which was a superhit Speyside endeavour of peat.
Tomintoul 10 YO is pale gold to the eye. Its legs run thin and quick along the glass's inside, revealing a light character that my nose did belie. I smelled hints of fruit, honey, and lots of raisin-like flavour. It got me excited, building up a fruity expectation in my palate.
To the tongue though, the malt's initial sweet notes are replaced by a thin oiliness that sticks along the mouth as the drink rolls down. There's salt and butter in there, and wood as well. But the finish is short, leaving a spicy aftertaste that soon fades away. Add a few drops of water and the drink becomes a little more rounded, but paler. At 40% ABV, the malt is pale even when aired a little. But the distillery knows their product's character, and the packaging acknowledges it as "the gentle dram."
Regular maltworshippers would be aware of my love for everything Laphroaig. Urged by that passion, I bought myself a bottle of their latest offering- Laphroaig Select. Why is it named that, you might wonder?
This particular expression of Laphroaig has been manufactured by a somewhat different process than the usual. To mature this dram, Laphroaig used just about every sort of cask that they've previously featured- straight American white oak, olorosso sherry, PX-seasoned, quarter casks and first-fill bourbon casks. This varied and experimental process allowed them to create 6 different flavours, which were then tested with an invited group of the Friends of Laphroaig. The winning flavour they chose is bottled as Laphroaig Select.
On the nose, the malt is light phenol mixed with citrus, coconut and moss. It becomes quite mild when allowed to air for a while, hints of sugar, lime and mint emerging fleetingly. Water pales it considerably, leaving only a general air of fruit and mint.
In the mouth, the malt is quite light and pale- and the typical Laphroaig peat is not to a satisfactory level! There are hints of pepper and seaweed, but they are quite muted, leaving the malt thin and not well-rounded. It's short and dry in the finish, leaving more to be desired in the phenol and smoke it leaves behind.
Overall, a dram of Laphroaig Select leaves you with a sense that something is missing. Perhaps it is my great obsession with all things peat, and I'm unable to digest such sobriety in an Islay product. Perhaps it is the moderate ABV of 40%, and things could have been different at a 48? But one gets a better sense of what the chaps at Laphroaig are up to when you look at the price- slotted at par with the entry-level Laphroaig 10 YO. Islay malts, especially the medicinal variety Laphroaig are famous for, do not easily appeal to novice drinkers. A friendlier, less medicinal variety shelved at the entry-level makes Laphroaig more likely to be picked up by them, thereby easing their entry into the rugged world of Islay.
I personally would not be buying this expression of Laphroaig again, especially when the quarter cask and PX cask varieties are available at comfortable prices in most duty free retails. Even when I might be in the mood for a lighter, airier dram- Auchentoshan is my preferred distiller for such occasions!