It is official – I finally own property! It’s been a long time dream and now it is fulfilled. I am celebrating with a wonderful glass of single malt:
The irony is that I have not seen the property I have acquired though I certainly hope to visit it one day. It’s a beautiful, if somewhat small, piece of land in Islay, Scotland. I don’t have plans to build any time soon. My square of land is 12 inches square and I’m not sure the neighbors would appreciated a condo.
Laphroaig is a very traditional, very peaty bottle of Scotch. It is not for everyone – their website takes pride in admitting that for many people will only taste their product once and reminds this is intended to be enjoyed and not endured. This was the first Scotch I ever tried and I still inform people that it tastes like a mixture between drinking a swamp and an old piece of wood. To many Scotch drinkers this means heaven – to others it is an instant past. If you are new to Scotch you may want to wait to build up to the incredibly strong flavors offered here. It is a lovely drink and, like all Scotches, many of the uninitiated simply put way too much in their glass or their mouth to enjoy and become overwhelmed quickly. This is a delightful sipping drink that will fill your mouth with flavor; patience is the key to a wonderful experience.
The bottle shown in this post is the Quarter Cask version – 48% alcohol by volume and created using techniques that have not changed for more than 200 years. The reference to a “quarter cask” is very relevant – the oak barrels in this edition are smaller than most high-production scotch which means that more of the Scotch comes in contact with the wood (they claim it’s up to 60% more than some standard techniques today) which has a tremendous effect on the final taste. The flavor in this bottle is not for the faint of heart. This is not the Scotch for everyone – lovers will adore it and others will run screaming. I love to concentrate on the smell and taste of the oak as I consume a sip and let it consume my mouth. This is a beverage that drinks me as oposed to the other way around!
Laphroaig provides it’s purchasers with the right to register their name and claim a one-square foot plot of land for the duration of their lives. Owners can (and do) visit their plots – some have been married on them, others have planted small ceremonial gardens and the like. Visitor’s are paid “rent” – the distillery will provide you a small dram of Scotch when you visit and you are welcome to take it on your quest to find your piece of land.
In addition to the small piece of land I now have access to an on-line community of Scotch drinkers from more than 150 countries and a great story to tell. Laphroaig started this tradition after buying land to preserve their unique water supply which is a critical ingredient to their liquid gold. The tradition predates the internet and social networking and is a neat benefit of a Scotch which bears the official endorsement/ seal of the Prince of Wales.
Before your next trip to Islay, let me know if you’re looking for a place to stay or for a taste of something local!