These days, everybody seems to have a loyalty scheme of one sort or another. My wallet has more loyalty cards in it than credit cards, and the schemes are mostly of the “spend a lot of money, get a tiny fraction of it back” kind.
Laphroaig, with their Friends of Laphroaig program, do things a little differently. You don’t get a card, but what you get instead is a square foot of Islay. A real, genuine square foot of land, that you can go and visit. That’s my square foot above, with a little Union flag stuck in it.
That’s only half the story though. If you go up to Islay and visit the distillery, not only will they let you visit your plot (and give you the aforementioned flag to plant) but they will also pay you rent. In whisky.
This is last year’s rent, in the form of the Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength, at a robust 55.7% ABV. It’s a nice golden dram, with a slightly oily look about it.
The nose transports me straight to an Islay warehouse; surprisingly restrained alcohol, old wood and wafts of distant smoke underpinned by the aroma of seaweed piled on the beach outside.
Water doesn’t change things significantly; the smokiness is more pronounced but it still basically smells like you’ve stuck your head straight into the cask.
In the mouth, there’s no doubting the cask strength – the alcohol is immediate, harsh and burning, slowly yielding to reveal a big peat punch, sweetened with brown sugar and fading into a long, drawn out dry finish.
Water brings the alcohol down to more manageable levels, allowing the peaty flavours to develop more gradually and linger longer. The sweetness is still there, but the finish becomes more peppery.
It’s a big, powerful 4 star dram.