Appreciating whisky is an art and there’s no shame in needing to take the time to graduate from drinking it in cocktails to having it neat. Most major distilleries have pretty vast ranges so there’s a good chance you’ll find ones that you’ll really enjoy eventually. Until you can work your way around notes, noses and textures well enough to distinguish the good stuff from the not so great stuff, most distilleries also offer ‘entry level’ varieties; generally a bit milder and easier to get down. This is what Scottish distiller Laphroaig have gone for with Laphroaig Select.
The Scotch whisky is matured in a special selection of American and European casks, giving it a unique taste profile. The story goes that Ian Hunter, the last family member owner of the distillery, travelled to bourbon county in the USA 70 or 80 years ago, to find new sources of casks for new flavours. The inspiration for Laphroaig Select comes from Hunter’s combining of his American discoveries with the traditionally matured varieties back in Scotland.
Casks used for Laphroaig Select are Oloroso sherry butts, straight American white oak (non-filled with bourbon), PX seasoned hogsheads, Quarter Casks and, of course, first filled Bourbon Casks. The subtle flavours of all these combine to make the expression that we see today, an homage to Hunter’s creations all those years ago.
Scotch whiskies are known for their peaty, ashy flavours and Laphroaig Select does not disappoint in this regard. You’ll find that at first you’ll get a hint of sweetness, but then the unique smokey flavour emerges quickly. It finishes with a long, lingering florally flavour with hints of Marzipan and limes. Select is a good introduction to single malt Scotch whisky and will leave you hanging out to try a dram of the distillery’s aged expressions next.