A Lesson in Laphroaig (Scotch)

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That distinctive “iodine” taste, like you’re sucking on a Band-Aid? That’s peat, and Laphoaig Scotch—a single malt produced in small-ish batches on the tiny island of Islay—is crammed full of the stuff, giving it its long, dry, but-not-acidic smoke. As such, Laphroaig is a challenging spirit, one as loved by some as it is loathed by others. So what is peat? It’s partially decayed vegetation matter with the consistency of clay that’s harvested as fuel in certain parts of the world. At Laphroaig, they smoke their barley with it for a long, long time, earning the title “the world’s most richly flavored Scotch Whisky.” A few years back, the stuff was hard to find in the city, but it’s catching on at new and old places alike. Here’s a handy guide, including cheaper and more expensive options.

Nodding Head
1516 Sansom St.
Cost: $8.80
Cheaper option: Dewars, $6.
For the baller in your party: He’ll have to take his funny money elsewhere. Most single malts at Nodding Head average around $8.80.

Time
1513 Sansom St.
Cost: 10-year, $12; Quarter Cask, $13.
Cheaper option: Glenlivet Nadurra 16-year, $6.
For the baller: Ardbeg 1990 Vintage, $24.
This swanky jazz lounge has two bars stocked with Laphroaig. Just don’t drink so much that you become a nuisance to doorman Rob, who will crush you!

Beneluxx
33 S. Third St.
Cost: $8.99
Cheaper option: Jack Daniels, $5.49.
For the baller: Aberlour, $9.99.
Known for their extensive beer list, we were surprised they carried Laphroaig, but happy all the same.

Memphis Taproom
2331 E. Cumberland St.
Cost: $7
Cheaper option: Glenlivet, $6.
For the baller: Alberta Springs 10-Year, $12.
Cheapest Laphroaig we found. Love this place.

Sassafrass
48 S. Second St.
Cost: $10
Cheaper option: Dewars, $6.50
For the baller: Balvenie 15-year, $14.
Self-described as “your fathers bar,” Sassafras is wise from its 35 years and boasts an impressive list of single malts.

Village Whiskey
118 S. 20th St.
Cost: 10-year, $14; 18-year, $26; 30-year, $60.
Cheaper option: *cough* Laphroaig 10-year, $14.
For the baller: We’ll spare you the tears.
The restaurant has an extensive whiskey list (duh), and has nearly every type of Laphroaig the distillery makes. They don’t have the 40-year though, which might be a good thing. That shit will make you hallucinate.

Happy Rooster
118 S. 16th St.
Cost: 10-year, $10.
Cheaper option: Dewars, $8.
At cozy and dimly lit Happy Rooster, you can order your scotch and drink it in one of the plush leather booths with a touch of sophistication. (Rachel Stumpo)

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1. MJ said... on Nov 17, 2010 at 09:30AM

“Laphroig is my favorite of the single malts, although I'm partial to most of the Islays. That taste like iodine IS iodine and is characteristic of all Islays, which are buried in wooden casks in sea caves below water level. The iodine flavor comes from the sea. The peat? That's the part of Laphroig (or of any other Scots whisky) that tastes like peat.”

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2. RC said... on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:21PM

“Village Whiskey may have an extensive Scotch list, but the prices are ridiculously exorbitant. I love Garces' food and restaurants, but for a couple drams at VW I could buy a whole bottle of a good single malt to last me weeks. Get real Jose!”

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