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Inexpensive peaty/smoky scotch

Hi all.

I am hoping that a few of you who are into your whisky could offer some advice.

I’m not new to whisky myself, I’ve been drinking it since I was about 12 ( obviously on odd occasions and in moderation ) but over the last 20 years or so, it’s really taken a backburner to other drinks and I’m a bit out of touch now. The advice I’m asking is because I always used to like my whisky on what I would consider the sweeter side, so things like Mcallan and other sweetish Speysides where my favourites. Even rusty nails where on the radar.

Since returning to them recently I’ve found all of them to be too sweet for my tastes now. I haven’t had any I didn’t like, but I can’t help but think that the whiskies I used to hate and therefore know little about, might be the ones I now will really enjoy.

Am I right in thinking I’d be best seeking out an Islay? And if so which one? Looking around, there seems to be infinitely more choice now than there used to be, but a lot of it is shockingly expensive. I don’t want to spend serious money on a bottle I might find I still hate, so it needs to be about £30 if that’s at all doable?

The whiskies I’ve tried recently are The Society’s 16yo, Nikka from the barrel, Shackleton, Chivas Regal and a Mcallan sherry cask. The Society and the Nikka where my favourites, but still a bit sweet. I sometimes have a splash of water with it but not a mixer, although occasionally I’ll make a cocktail.

Any advice is welcome. It doesn’t need to be available from TWS. Thanks

Laphroaig 10 is your bet for peat at that price point

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Talisker would tick the boxes too, though you might have to scout about to get it for £30.

Or Black Bottle 10 year old which is a bit less than £30. A blend with a lot of Islay in it.

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laphroaig would be my bet

there is virtually always a supermarket with a deal on whisky

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Smokey = hebridean island whisky. So anything from Islay, or Talisker (Skye) or Jura, though jura is a bit softer. Ardbeg is my favourite, though bunnahabhain, bruichladdich or Laphroig are also good. Laphroig is very full on. A proper marmite whisky.

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Agreed. If you like TCP, smoke and seaweed you’ll be fine with Laphroaig . Bunnahabhain is probably my favourite Islay malt and it’s very different from the likes of Laphroaig or Lagavulin. The latter gives me a sore head after one dram.

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Laphroig Quarter-Cask is another option. It’s usually a bit more expensive than your limit, but is also often on offer in the supermarkets @ c. £30 - £35 (it seems to alternate with the 10).

It’s a bit less of a smoke monster and quite a bit sweeter than the 10 so might be an easier introduction, although it can still be similarly marmite if you don’t like that medicinal hit.

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When travelling for work, In the past, I very rarely had a dessert - I’d have a whisky instead…my colleague always asked ‘you having some of that horse-rub’ as he detested the smell of a peaty island whisky

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This is my everyday smoky/peaty whisky:

Its a little over your budget but has great balance and no whiff of the hospital corridor about it.

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I think the laphroaig quarter cask is a good shout. If the peaty/tcp thing doesn’t work for you, maybe look to the Highlands - Old Pulteney 12yo was a great dram for me

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I have always enjoyed Dalwhinnie 15 year old…more recently Winter Gold has been pushed but the 15 year old is👍

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Ardbeg 10 = £37 Tesco. Its 46%, no caramel and non-chill filtered so you are getting the real deal. Bourbon barrel which is great. Always gets highest marks in independent reviews.

A matter of personal taste but I much prefer Ardbeg to Laphroiag 10 which is just TOO much tcp. Wouldn’t touch Laph 1/4 casks because no age statement & tastes really young. If you want to spend a bit more, Lagavulin 16 is incredible value for money.

For a low cost smokey blend, I like Teachers. Or JW Green (15 year old, blended malt) again great value for money. Sadly both are 40%, + caramel, + chill filtered.

Again personal taste, but I’d avoid Highland park 10 & 12 which are truly awful - no wonder they are so heavily discounted. Ditto Bowmore 12 / 15 / darkest or any of the multitude of names they have.

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I forgot to mention this one ! Ledaig is the smokey malt from Tobermory, and it’s not ‘in your face’ peat.

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I think I might have just the ticket for you, which I posted about on the Neglected Whisky thread recently.

Like you, I’m naturally a sherry cask man, but they can verge into the too sweet, and I like a bit of burning seaweed on the beach as well. I would think your happy place would be an Islay made with a proportion of sherry cask to balance the sweet and smoky. This would naturally lead me to recommend Ardbeg’s Uigeaidal but that comes in around the £65 mark.

A friend recently tipped me off about this:

This is currently under £30, and I think it’s well worth even the full price. It’s from an Islay distillery under sworn secrecy as to its origins (hence the bargain) and 25% of it has been finished in first-fill Oloroso sherry octaves. It’s really well balanced and delicious.

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So that’s Caol Ila then - the village bike of Islay! on the other hand the green bottle looks suspiciously similar to Laphroiag 10. Which do you reckon?

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I agree that the bottle is absolutely a Laphroaig bottle, but I’m not aware of them habitually using Oloroso octaves (only for very limited run, horribly priced rarities). They do release PX Laphroaig, though.

Caol Ila released a “Smoke and Sherry” Cooper’s Choice at £85 ish a bottle, but that was a much darker colour…

Conclusion - I don’t know and probably never will.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I must admit Laphroiag is a whisky that I’m not sure I’m ready for. I have had one of their releases probably 20 years ago and the TCP was completely overwhelming to me then. I have actually got a bottle of it somewhere, but it was from my friend who is a roofer. He found it in a loft and the owner told him to keep it. I’ve been wary of drinking it though, as it could have been there for decades and may make me Ill .

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Whisky keeps pretty much indefinitely save evaporation…I don’t think it’s got the ability to age you rapidly either :wink:

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Just had a look for it now. It’s the 10 year old and it’s in a tin which when opened has a cardboard lid inside. Does anybody remember when they stopped selling it this way?

That looks like a good call. I’ll see where I can pick that up locally along with one or two other suggestions.

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