We want to introduce you to a bottle of 16-year-old Lagavulin. Quite an unusual name for an equally unusual drink right? The pungent smoky odor and dry earthy taste can be a shock to your senses. But as strange as it is, the experience will leave you intrigued and slowly luring you back to get better acquainted with the flavorful spirit known as single malt scotch.
This description thus far may sound unpalatable to some, but single malt scotch, in our estimation, is the most sophisticated of any beverage. Over recent months we have been consumed with this subject, slowly educating ourselves to the varieties, sharing the drink with our clients, and buying more for them!
The greatest pleasure of scotch, as we came to learn, is enjoying it with curious-minded customers. Because the sense of smell is so perceptive, and scotch is a drink for the nose, it sometimes brings back a long-forgotten experience.
When we introduced the more robust peat- and smoke-filled scotch to clients this past months, a couple of the customers were surprised by old memories and manly associations.
“I can taste my ancestors in this one,” one of our customers Joe exclaimed, after trying the stout flavor of a 16-year-old Bowmore. Joe, as far as I know, has no Scottish ancestors, but he was raised hunting wild game in Uganda, which was sufficient for him to identify with the warriors of Braveheart.
Another customer, Mike John, who grew up in Great Britain, took one whiff of the Bowmore and nearly rolled out of his chair, thrilled by thoughts of his homeland. He mentions the unmistakable peat and smoke taste that reminds him of the English peat bogs.
Mike John reactions raises an important point about scotch tasting. He boldly notes that drinking to excess not only impairs coordination, but it also weakness the sense of smell and taste, without which a fine single malt cannot be appreciated.
The unmistakable peat and smoke that reminded Mike John of the English peat bogs is the most distinctive quality of a malt produced on the island of Islay. In this region dried peat brick are burned longer than in other areas. Thick billows of smoke fill malting floors, drying the freshly sprouted barley and halting its germination. Because peat contains the organic matter native to its location, when it is burned it infuses the barley with strong notes of smoke, seaweed, iodine, salt and tar.
We must confess it wasn’t really like that, for us when we were beginners,it takes time to articulate the sensation of a complex scotch whisky. The specific aromas and flavors of scotch are often subtle and alluring, provoking analysis and lively conversation. Through time and the exchange of impressions with other scotch drinkers, it becomes easier to distinguish one malt from another with a precise description.
Scotch is not a drink for those inexperienced with spirits. But over time the alcohol softens and the whisky’s charm and character emerge with such appeal that tasters may be convinced of their own Scottish heritage—even if they don’t have any.
Catch up with some scotch whisky at Betimo Stores.