Drink of the Week Holiday Scotch Picks

My holiday picks for scotch are not for the faint of heart. While they are very different from each other, they both are cask strength and neither is chill filtered. They are, well, strong. But hey, if you’re going to drink a scotch, why not go for it. These are great to serve at an intimate holiday gathering or to give as a gift to a real scotch lover. Both picks will run you about $60, although good sales abound so you may find it for less!

Laphroaig Cask Strengthlaphroaig

The bottle warns you to dilute the scotch with 2 parts water. I didn’t listen. Served neat, this scotch is peaty and smokey with a hint of sweetness. These are the flavors I think of when I think of scotch. It stays on your tongue, but it is not hot. With 1 part water and an ice cube, none of the flavor was lost.

It was truly amazing how with the water it just opened up and released a little more smokey flavor. Always a rebel, I didn’t bother to increase the water to 2 parts despite the recommendation, because 1 part and an ice cube gave me the ideal experience. The water does affect the mouthfeel, which is light to begin with and gets thinner (of course) with the addition of water.

A bonus when giving Laphroaig as a gift — sending in a piece of the foil on the cap to the distillery gives you a lease on a square foot of the Isle of Islay, where the scotch is made, payable in a dram of scotch upon visiting. You get a certificate in the mail and everything.

Laphroaig Cask Strength

Aberlour A’Bunadh

This scotch had some characteristics I typically associate with bourbon — a brown sugar nose, spiced honey flavors and a citrus finish. It is also much hotter than the Laphroaig. As it opens, the heat mellows but the intense flavor remains.

Some of its unique characteristics may come from the fact that Aberlour uses Sherry casks for this. The distillery says this was how it was done in the old days, because Sherry was imported from Spain in casks and then the empty casks were just left sitting in UK ports.

Overall, the merging of hot, sweet and spice makes for a great scotch experience that is very different that what you’d expect.

Aberlour A’Bunadh

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