What can I say - they are all good, peaty whiskies, hard to really recommend one over the other.
If I should give it a go, it would be something like:
1) Lagavulin 16yo (The answer to the "one whisky on an island" question)
2) Ardbeg Uigeadail (Smoky & sweet and fullbodied...)
3) Laphroaig 10 (It's just a classic malt - always a favourite)
4) Laphroaigh QC (Yes, it's nice - smoky-sweet and young- recommended to everybody)
5) Ardbeg 10 (The favourite of many – just not mine. A fine dram though)
An old favourite, thats now hard to find are the Ardbeg 17 - If you ever get the chance to get a bottle of this - take it. You will find a far less smoky dram than than almost any other ardbeg, but this just leaves more room for all the other flavours of this complex dram.
I have unfortunately never tried either the Lagavulin 12cs or the Laphroaigh 10cs – both are also recommended by many – and are definitely on my list of future purchases.
If you are into heavy peatyness you could also give some of the mystery malts & vattings a go - Mcleod's 8yo Islay comes to mind as a fine example of an inexpensive, yet good and very peaty dram.
I'd like to see Laphroaig 15yo on that list as that is my favourite affordable Laphroaig and one I believe JM reviews very poorly. I've gone off the 2 10yo expressions these last 12 months. The Lahproaig 30yo is magic. Had some pretty good Laphroaigs at the SMWS bar. The QC is good but behind the 15yo IMO.
Uigeadail, I keep telling myself I like this whiksky but I'm not sure I really do. It's pretty full on, but I'm not sure how well integrated it is. I've had a bottle open for quite a while now and I'd now place it bottom of the Ardbeg OB's I've tried (still above the Laphroaig 10yo and 10yo CS).
A lot of people knock the Lagavulin 12yo CS for lacking complexity. Well maybe it does but it is just so sweet, oily, smooth, peaty and delicious that I rate it very highly. Not had the Lagavulin DE or the 25yo. Must get round to trying the DE at some point as I've never come across a Lagavulin IB.
Ardbeg Uigeadail: very good job putting this one together, but I find it just a little rough around the edges.
Laphroaig 10: good bargain for a standard strength.
Laphroaig 10 C/S: more punch than a heavyweight boxer, great.
Lagavulin 12 C/S: a little too hot for what it tries to be, but cut with water(which I rarely do) it really finds its place.
Lagavulin 16: Love its unique quality and richness. I save it for special occasions.
Laphroaig 15: yes it really does belong in the poll, but I would love to find a Laphroaig at this age as a C/S, I imagine that would be sublime.
Ardbeg 17 is not "Heavily peated" so would not fit here, although very good.
Also, it is hard for me not to include Highland Park, Talisker, Caol Ila and a couple others if someone is looking at this for the smoky, peatiness and not just South Islay malts.
Looking back over my comments I realize I may have come off as critical. Let me make it clear that all of the above are GREAT bottles and worthy of at least a try and I highly recommend them all. It's hard to critisize something when it's all good.
1. Lagavulin Distillers Edition
For me this captures Islay in a glass and it will always remind me of my first visit there. The smell of peat as the ferry from Kennacraig passed one distillery after the other. The whisky itself is complex, sweet, smoky with tons of peat and it scores extra points for its rich, salty and burnt aftertaste.
2. Other - Ardbeg 1975
One of the best Ardbegs I've had. Unfortunately there's not much left in my bottle and to replace it today probably costs a small fortune. The 1975 has a peaty and smoky nose, yet rounded. The taste is peppery, salty with a touch of lemon. A classic!!
3. Laphroaig 10y. Cask Strength
I prefer this to the 15y. although the 15y. may seem a bit more complex and rounded. I like the aggressive and tarred nose, it's seaweedy and salty taste and the medicinal and peaty finish.
4. Lagavulin 16y.
The ultimate standard dram. The one that always gets in my glass when I don't know what to choose. Peat and smoke on the nose, more peat and seaweed on the palate and a wonderful and warming finish.
5. Ardbeg 10y.
Because it hits you like a hammer!!!
Of course I would prefer NOT to choose among the whiskies in this poll.
I use to have most of the expressions at home and try to vary the drink to the occasion. But I think the list above represent my choice for the ultimate Islay.
The Laga' 12CS got my vote here, 'cause i got a soft spot for the sherry peat and smoke together.
No iodine thankyou!
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