Saturday, August 27, 2016

07/20 - Bowmore and Laphroaig

Wednesday morning, the first day of our stay on Islay. We woke up early, had an awesome full Scottish breakfast and decided for a spontanuous visit to Bowmore which's just down the road from the Bowmore House as there was plenty of time until we'd to be at Laphroaig.

In the bar of the visitor's center we'd the chance to try the top whiskys of their actual standard range: the 23yo. matured in Portcasks, the Devil Cask III (no clue about the two others before) and the 25yo. Small Batch Release. If I remember the 23yo. is the most expensive of that three and that's the one which was definitely not my favorite. I preferred the "cheapest" which's the 25yo. Well, cheap is relative of course, as this bottle is also around GBP 230... it would be interesting to compare it with an older 25yo., e.g. with the one I have at home...

After this little tasting we decided to make the standard tour through the distillery as it was starting a few minutes later with just a small bunch of other guys... and we had two more drams after the tour, one from a Bourbon, one from a sherry cask... and one more for the road...

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Back at the Bowmore House Andrew organized a taxi for us which brought us the way to the South coast of Islay, to Laphroaig where we have booked the "Water to Whisky Experience". After our arrival we still had some time until the tour would start, the perfect opportunity for... of course... another wee dram. I made my decision for the new bottling of the 10yo. Cask Strength, a whisky with which you never fail. That's the true Laphroaig flavor for a really fair price!

Our experience started with a standard tour and it felt very strange to walk through the distillery which looked and felt like a ghost distillery. Also in the silent season like Bowmore but it seemed that nobody was doing anything. Dead silence.

After the tour we took the car and were brought up the hills and took a little walk to reach the water source of Laphroaig where we also had a little lunch. Every participant had his own lunch box with different stuff, the guide poured out some different whiskys and I also had some Swiss cheese with me which went very well with the whisky. A great experience and luckily the weather wwas stable enough that it did not rain.

Strengthened by the food, and some whisky, we walked back to the car which brought us to the peat areas of Laphroaig. Laphraoig has it's own peat moss and they're the only distillery on Islay having their own. There we'd the chance to make some experience in peat cutting, stacking it for drying etc. Still an old school method in an industry which gets more and more modern, at least in regards of fancy marketing and packaging... all those stops were accompanied by different drams of whisky of there core range...

All were curious for some Laphroaig beside the main stream stuff and so everybody was looking forward to the last part of the tour: the warehouse tasting and the chance to fill your own bottle of Laphroaig. The selection was the following:
  • 12 or 13yo. from a Quarter Cask
  • 22yo. Bourbon Cask
  • 18yo. Sherry Cask
The Quarter Cask was ok, but nothing to be too excited about but the other two really rocked! Reto drew his bottle for the Sherry Cask, I drew mine from the Bourbon Cask, therefore we'd the chance to drink both later during the evening again...

Conclusion of the day: standard (but interesting) tour at Bowmore with some really nice drams and an outstanding afternoon at Laphroaig with a lot of interesting experiences and lots of good whisky!