This post will completely conflict with my previous post asking which is the best SM under $100 to celebrate. After picking up a Bowmore 12 a month back, I'm finding that I like the peaty smokiness as it's starting to become addictive. What I'm looking to find is an Islay malt that has the peaty smokiness like the Bowmore but more of the center palate "zip" that you might get from a HP12 and a more dryer and longer finish. Does such an animal exist for less than $60? Again this a "Chicago" price. One SM that popped up in my last post and that seems highly rated is the Lagavulin 16. This is around $100 so it might be out of my range. If anyone is kind of understanding what I'm looking for please give me some ideas, I'd appreciate it.
ardbeg 10 ($45) the ardbegs have a little less peat than the laphroaigs, so you might want to look into it
longrow cv ($60) this is a peated springbank.
Dubois wrote:Try Caol Ila 12 Yrs...
My first choice as an 'approachable' yet substantial Islay pour as well.
It's just SOOOOOOO drinkable.
The peating level is smack-dab in the middle of what you'll encounter from the magic island, and the balance between fruit-like sweetness and smoke'n'oak dryness is spot-on.
After this one, you can then decide if it's worth your while to get 'peat crazy' with the heftier Kildatons (Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig).
lockejn wrote:I would definitely go for a Caol Ila 12 or Talisker 10. These fall between Bowmore and Lagavulin/Laphroaig/Ardbeg for peatiness and are exceptional whiskies for the price range.
This. The Talisker has the zip you are looking for and the Coal Ila is a gateway scotch into the big peat Islays like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin.
Springbank 10yo CS is very good, a little bit salty, a bunch of seaweed and from far away you can smell the arrival of a bonfire.
Bowmore CS is very very good if you like the Bowmore 12.
Thank you so much for all your suggestions, I ran some numbers and Caol Ila and Talisker led the pack for recommendation counts. The Lagavulin 16 was next and I don't think I've ever heard anything "bad" about it except for the price. I can see why there is so much love for Islay on this board, while it can be initially "in your face" you get used to it after a while and when you have a dram that isn't as peaty or smoky it seems to be missing something, for me now anyway. I never thought the peat in the Highland Park 12 would be "behind" the sweetness istead of "up front" that I always felt but that's how I perceive it after having Bowmore a few times! No complaints though.
I appreciate what you are saying about being careful between more peaty and more smoky. I think that just as long as the peat and smoke are in proportion with each other I'd be OK, I've come to really get into the smoke but don't think I'd be too scared of the peat. I am starting to really learn the difference between peat and smoke and definitely like the smoke.
Ultimately I'll just need to win the lottery and walk into Binny's with their quarterly "15% of all spirits coupon" and say the hell with it and just buy them all. I might do that even if I don't win the lottery.
Thanks again everyone, it's much appreciated
Megawatt wrote:Funny how it works, isn't it? At first I found Highland Park 12 quite peaty, and Lagavulin was utterly intolerable. Now I love Lagavulin, and in Highland Park I have to try hard to detect the peat.
So true. I had the last ounce of my HP12 last night and kept thinking how sweet it was. The peat was there but not as much as I ever remembered. How my palate and perception has changed! I've also learned the difference between peat and smoke. The HP12 is definitely all peat to me and no smoke, Johnny Walker Black tastes the same also, peat - but no smoke.
Collector57 wrote:Well now. That does seem to happen to a lot of people. But many of us find, as our palates improve, that there's a lot to be said for more subtlety too. I for one, have moved back again towards less "in your face" whiskies.tuddy24 wrote:I can see why there is so much love for Islay on this board, while it can be initially "in your face" you get used to it after a while and when you have a dram that isn't as peaty or smoky it seems to be missing something, for me now anyway.
I still love Islays, don't get me wrong, but I was missing so much complexity when I was concentrating on Islay...
RIGHT! I get so sick of when people equate phenol levels with quality, like the peatiest whisky is the best. For me whisky is about balance. Sometimes a peaty whisky is required; others, a sweet fruity dram. The thing about peat is that it can kill complexity. There must be other elements in the Scotch for me to truly enjoy it. Sometimes a touch of smoked peat is all that is needed to achieve balance.
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