The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2017

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Page 44 of 148

44  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2017 SCOTCH LAPHROAIG AND BOWMORE OFFER A DOUBLE DOSE OF SCOTCH DELIGHT Putting single malt Scotch into a cock- tail may be sacrilege to some. Pouring a splash of it in an oyster shell's crook may be downright anathema. Yet in the eyes of the right person, both scenarios can produce magic. After our vertical tasting, we followed Brand Ambassador Simon Brooking on a San Diego bar crawl, which included some of the city's finest bartenders using Laphroaig to whip up indulgent concoctions like the black cherry– and chocolate syrup–infused Dark Summer and an "Oyster Luge" presentation led by Brooking that culminated in a sip of Bowmore from the shell of a freshly consumed bivalve. According to Brooking, the unique Scotch presentations speak to the heart of the Scotch enthusiast, an imbibing class that's often wedged between the exclusionary snob and the tech-obsessed geek. "The enthusiast is one who simply wants to find ways to enjoy a beloved product like Laphroaig or Bowmore with oth- ers," he says. "These experiences are perfect for them." –R. M. I walk into a San Diego bar with stuffed, mounted deer heads overlooking the dark-wooded interior. The 12-bar blues emanating from unseen speakers is non- descript yet familiar. There's a kilted man in the corner fiddling with glassware. These seemingly disparate sights and sounds are coalesced by the smoky bedevilment of Scotch. Specifically, the eight special bottles of Laphroaig Cairdeas I was privileged to sample last October. The octet encompasses the Islay distillery's special limited-edition malts from 2009 to 2016—an ambitious vertical fueled by the power of càirdeas (Gaelic for "friendship"). The '09 and '10 versions are supplied by Simon Brooking, Laphroaig's kilt-wearing Brand Ambassador. As the event unfolds, the blues give way to Brooking's masterfully spun mélange of brand history, Scottish folklore and bawdy bar jokes, which are breezily interspersed between the indulgent tastes. The bar passes out song sheets for the final dram, and Brooking leads us in a rollicking, Robert Burns–esque Scottish tune. The vertical's featured players also share their diverse voices. The 2010's candied toffee notes melt over the palate. The 2013 is a mighty burst of dark fruit, currant and wood. The current 2016 model is buoyed by spicy notes enveloped by a creamy smoothness. It's a collective reveal that even Brooking deems unprecedented. "This is the first time I've done this wide of a Cairdeas vertical. It's really remarkable," he states. "It's fun to see how its story changes from year to year. It's also fun to see how Laphroaig provides the common thread that binds the stories together." An "Oyster Luge" with Bowmore. Let's Play Two Simon Brooking, Laphroaig's kilt-wearing Brand Ambassador, led a series of tastings around San Diego. A Grandiose Tasting LAPHROAIG IS THE CENTER OF AN EPIC VERTICAL by Rich Manning A vertical tasting of Laphroaig special limited-edition malts from 2009 to 2016. PHOTOS COURTESY OF BEAM SUNTORY Laphroaig® Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 43%, 48% and 55.7% alc./vol. ©2017 Laphroaig Import Company, Deerfield, IL

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