January 15, 2012

Auchentoshan 12 yr old vs Laphroaig Quarter Cask: It's all about time and place.

The Pinnacle of Breakfast Culture
I can't think of two more polar opposites to write about than these two at the moment. As it's getting close to 11am on a Sunday morning and I gaze upon a bottle of the Auchentoshan (while stealing glances from a visibly perturbed wife). Clearly she doesn't understand the passion behind this incredibly important assignment. The inspiration... it's been said that whisky from the Lowlands is the perfect breakfast dram. Good enough for this jackalope, let's experiment shall we:

Those are Stills (not paper boats!)
Auchentoshan 12 yr old
To counter the DTs, many have fallen easily to the caesar or the mimoso in the AM as their prescription. But if you're looking to step up your game, a Lowland might just be the quarterback you're looking for. Auchentoshan 12 yr old is one such star player from just outside of Glasgow to consider. Falling in the 'light and delicate' quadrant of our flavour map, this dram is very accessible and refined. Possibly because it's been triple distilled, possibly because the malts used are unpeated. Look for nuttiness and green leafiness. Not sure how well it pairs with bacon & eggs, so look to a less traditional breakfast meal with this one. Perhaps some re-heated prime-rib from last night's dinner at The Keg & some crusty rye bread? (Yes, we all know you went there again last night, shame on you.) Either way, your friends, your family and your wife (or husband) will all judge you for this reckless decision.

Mmmmm, delicious creosote
Laphroaig Quarter Cask
If you can actually remember the last time you sat in front of a camp fire all night, passed out, then woke up the next morning with your clothes permanently infused with the smell of smoke, then you would understand where Laphroaig Quarter Cask is coming from. This is by far the one single malt we carry that I would never give to a first timer. It's intense beyond intense and would turn you back to rye & gingers faster than a 3 bean burrito on a cruise. When I see reviews of this smokebomb noting a 'slightly peaty' nose I can't help but wonder if they're playing a joke on us.

The Quarter Cask comes out of the bottle defiant and punching hard. Creosote soaked railway ties come out as the dominant taste, followed by diesel, then rubber... it oozes with deep south blues; still interested? It can overwhelm the novice quite easily, but for the seasoned whiskyhead this is a welcome test of your peat tolerance. After the initial shock, you might find some subtle and fruitier notes, but you really have to look for them. BTW 'Quarter Cask' simply refers to a smaller barrel being used during maturation. The idea is that more whisky comes in contact with the aged wood (60% more in fact) of this smaller barrel, thus producing a more powerful result. And it does.
Much like our 'Lone Wolf' (Ardbeg), the Quarter Cask isn't an everyday whisky, and definitely not a breakfast dose. Save this one for the weekend folks. It's Scotland's Southern Harmony Musical Companion.

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