Recently I discovered Lagavulin, a single malt Scotch whiskey made famous by Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Lagavulin is made on the Scottish island of Islay, an area renowned for producing what is called “peaty” Scotch. You can tell if a Scotch is peaty by its aroma, which to most people suggests a mixture of gasoline, paint thinner, and pure isopropyl alcohol roasting over a campfire.
How can anyone enjoy smelling such a thing, let alone drinking it, you ask? Good question. It is a question I asked myself about 25 years ago, when my father, a longtime Dewar’s enthusiast, suddenly took a liking to Laphroaig, another superb Islay product with an odor that, at the time, drove me out of whatever room Dad’s glass happened to be in.
So evidently, it takes about 25 years for one’s taste to evolve — or deteriorate — to the point where putrefaction becomes perfection. Such are my sentiments toward Lagavulin today, as so perfectly expressed by actor Brian Cox:
I started with Lagavulin 8 Year, an entry-level Islay Scotch with a taste not as complex as pricier options. Nevertheless it’s a wonderful product, one which I learned through experimentation and research is best served neat, with only the slightest splash of room-temperature water. A lovely drink indeed — and because of its $65/bottle price and intense drinking experience, is best enjoyed slowly sipped and savored over the course of an hour or two. Here is detail on how to taste whiskey.
All was going well with me and my 8 Year until I sampled a Lagavulin 16 Year, a drink almost twice as expensive, but much, much more than twice as delightful. Smoother. Richer. A bit less smokey, which I prefer. But now I have a problem. I don’t know if I can go back to 8 Year, and I don’t know if my budget will support a long-term relationship with 16 Year.
It’s quite a dilemma.
Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons)