Sunday, June 21, 2009

Laphroaig Quarter Cask vs Bunnahabhain 12yo

Gents, I recently acquired and tasted two whiskies from Islay that I thought worth commenting on. Firstly, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask (A$105) and secondly, a Gordon and MacPhail Bunnahabhain (A$79) which I picked up from the Single Malt Club website.

The Laphroaig contains the traditional peaty flavour that you would expect from an Islay single malt. I would describe it as a 'light' Ardbeg, very very smooth drinking. The smoky nose was very obvious, but this didn’t translate into a strong flavour. It’s quite a nice drop, and I found it to be served best with a slight addition of water to enhance the flavours. Usually I prefer scotch with ice, but in this case I felt that ice diluted the flavour to much. The price of the Quarter Cask (QC) differs from the normal Laphroaig 10yo by about A$20 and I had hoped that this would be money well invested. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the QC expression is worth the additional money and would suggest sticking with the regular 10yo bottling.

I award the Laphroaig Quarter Cask 5 lightning bolts.*

The Bunnahabhain 12yo was a real surprise. It’s from Islay too, and I was expecting something peaty, along the lines of the Talisker that we tried at the first meeting or the Laphroaig discussed above. What I got was something completely different, without a hint of peat. I must admit, I was a little disappointed with this one. It’s certainly a nice whisky, but when I buy Islay, I wanna buy peat. The Bunnahabhain is a very light, sweet whisky that has hints of fruit. I preferred this whisky with ice and would be happy to have it again, but I probably wouldn’t purchase it myself.

I award the MacPhail Bunnahabhain 12yo 4 lightning bolts.

If I was forced to choose between the two, I would go for the Laphroaig, but that represents my personal preference for smoky flavours. Others amongst you might prefer the Bunnahabhain. Needless to say, when the third meeting is held at my place later in the year, these bottles will be available for tasting by members.


* I’ve awarded these scores out of seven. I didn’t feel that five was enough to differentiate the two whisky’s.