The SOMM Journal

December 2017 / January 2018

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Page 110 of 124

110 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2017/2018 { whisky } "THERE'S NO WAY I'm doing that," I thought to myself. "I'd look so silly." In the private room of Wally's Wine & Spirits in Beverly Hills, I watched one of the bartend- ers in attendance of An Islay Adventure—a Laphroaig tasting and luncheon—look around the simulated environment wearing a virtual reality headset. Joe Jameson, Luxury Specialist at Beam Suntory (and Protector of the Peat for Southern California) toasted a dark brown nugget of peat and wafted the smoke toward the participant. The sharp scent found its way under my nose and hit me just as I recalled what John Campbell, Distillery Manager at Laphroaig, had said earlier : "I'll bet when you're here in sunny Los Angeles, you take a sip of Laphroaig and wonder, 'Whoa, why does it taste that way?' But when you're there on the island, it's just obvious." My reticence to join the virtual adventure didn't last long. I suddenly found myself soaring over the Scottish island of Islay to the drone of distant bagpipes, crashing waves, and a thick, Scottish brogue. The subsequent visions still remain: A black shore washes against a plain, long white building, the word "Laphroaig" printed in block letters along its side; two men chip away at a muddy field of peat by hand; and a stream navigates its way through the coarse land, softening the water. Inside the modest Laphroaig warehouse, barley is being malted, also by hand. A man shovels coal into a fiery oven as the blue smoke from the peat creeps over the malt, serving the dual purpose of drying and infusing what the narrator described as its signature "seaside LAPHROAIG TASTING AT WALLY'S IN BEVERLY HILLS USES VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY by Jessie Birschbach photos by Dustin Downing VIRTUAL TRAVEL, Authentic Taste Bryan Tetorakis, Bartender at The Varnish in Los Angeles, takes a virtual tour of Laphroaig's distillery at Wally's Wine & Spirits in Beverly Hills, CA.

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