Saturday, April 13, 2013

The 20th Annual Single Malt Extravaganza



Recently, I had the opportunity to attend The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza when its tour reached New York City.  Having skipped it the last couple of years, I was excited to return to see what new and exciting things they had to offer. 

While the evening was fun, I was a little disappointed by the fact that it was way too much of a challenge to get to more participants’ displays. 

With so many whiskies represented, it was difficult to get to a number of tables in the two hour event – between having to wait your turn behind the crowd at a given display and the fact that you’re engaging the representative from the company to learn about their product, there really wasn’t enough time allotted to get a good variety of brands.  My hope in the future is that they either make the event a longer evening or spread it across a couple of nights as Whisky Fest now does (at least in certain cities, like New York).

Following a scrumptious buffet dinner, I made my way to the hotel’s ballroom where the whiskies were being served.  By far, the highlight of the evening for me was a visit to the Laphroaig table.  Laphroaig has long been one of my go-to Scotches and seeing a large crowd gathered around the company’s representatives, I had a hunch that it would be worth my wait and I was right. 

This year, the Islay-based whisky manufacturer was serving a total of five different expressions:  their 10 year old, the Cask Strength, Quarter Cask an 18 year old and the Triple Wood.  Having purchased the 10 year old many times before in the past and with half a bottle of the Quarter Cask still remaining at home, I only sampled three of their evening’s offerings – I started with the Cask Strength, followed it with the Triple Wood and concluded with the 18 year old. 





Aged for 10 years, Laphroaig’s Cask Strength is by far the booziest Scotch they produce; while they advertise their product at 115.6 proof, the version they brought on this evening was a bit higher – specifically, 58.6% alcohol (or 117.2 proof).  Between the alcohol content and the smokiness from the peat, this one is a real punch in the face.  So, my advice is that if you don’t like the thought of being overwhelmed by your Scotch, then you might want to pass on this one.  However, for those of us that have long enjoyed Laphroaig, it is certainly a most welcomed expression.

The Triple Wood is characterized by a certain creaminess.  It is easy to be fooled by this one when you nose it because initially, it doesn’t seem that strong – which is deceptive because you can better get a sense of its strength once it hits the palate.  Aside from the customary peat, there’s definitely a hint of fruitiness and sweetness to it as well as a hint of sherry on the end. 

The additional aging on their 18 year old really pays off nicely.  It is silky smooth and by far and away the gentlest Laphroaig I’ve ever tasted.  I highly recommend this one if you are able to manage it in your whisky budget.  With a slightly oily texture, the peat only hits you at the very the end.  It has a bright gold color and more of a complex flavor with some notes of spice detected, although its nose suggests a definite sweetness.   

If you think you might be interested in attending future events such as this one, then check the schedule for The Single Malt Extravaganza at their Web site by clicking here

Want to become a member of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society?  You can fill out a membership application at their Web site by clicking here


The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Membership Application 


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