After unpacking (sorta kinda) our bags we left the B&B for some well deserved drams. We settled down in the whiskybar of the neighbouring Islay Hotel. Spending our pounds on the Ardbeg Grooves and the Kilchoman Feis Ile 2017 among many others, felt like the right thing to do. We slept like a dog that night, Can’t tell if it was the sound of the sea, our deliciously warm and soft beds, or, most likely, the uisge beatha we drank.
The next morning, after some scrambled eggs, bacon, smoked haddock and a few cups of coffee we walked down (and up) the specially designed ‘Distillery Path’ which leads you from Port Ellen to the Ardbeg Distillery. Along the way to the Laphroaig Distillery we discovered the beauty of Islay, and even more, how flat our own country is. Once arrived at Laphroaig we had a bit of time to take a look around. Checking out the well-known name on the side of the warehouse and taking a quick peek in the shop before our tour started. It’s mainly the great smell of peated barley on the courtyard that we remember. It’s like walking inside a glass filled with Laphroaig 10yo. The perfect smell, if you ask us!
Susan, our incredibly nice and humorous tour-guide, started with a quick history lesson about Laphroaig before taking us up to the malting-floors and kiln above the visitor centre. She explained the process the barley endures and the tools and equipment needed. We love to see that Laphroaig is still malting a portion of its own barley. She also told us how they cut peat by hand at Laphroaig, an interesting way to keep you busy, we can tell.
We won’t go too deep into the whisky making process, as you probably all know the basics. It was the first distillery where we tasted the sour tasting and cloudy 8% ABV ‘wash’. Let’s just say, we prefer whisky a little further up the process… After checking out the beautiful stills, we headed back to the little museum to do what we do best: tasting drams. Among them, was the Cairdeas 15yo:
Ah, here’s the fabulous smell of the Laphroaig courtyard! Great nose, with stewed red fruits, like strawberries, redcurrant, even some red pears are recognizable.
Very oily, some pepper, citrus, licorice root, apricots and a nice oaky flavour.
The finish contains a hint of smoke, sweet and peaty flavours, sulphur is in there but just enough to keep this a well balanced whisky.
We hoped that it would be a perfect recreation of the old 15yo, sadly, it isn’t quite the same. It misses a punch, the finish is rather modest. However, it was the better one of the drams we tasted at the distillery, so here it is: 86 points!
After we finished our drams we collected our yearly rent that came in the form of a miniature of the flagship of Laphroaig. The 10 year old. Since it was our first time visiting Laphroaig we had to claim our plot as well. So we did. So if you see a few Dutch flags over there, please keep off the grass!
We had a wonderful time at the distillery so thanks again Laphroaig and Susan, we’ll come back soon to see how our tiny plots of Islay are doing, and of course we’ll have a few more drams!