Scotchy, Scotch: It’s cold out there

Laphroaig distillery, Islay, Scotland. Credit: Kevin R. Kosar.

By Kevin R. Kosar

I grew up in Ohio, just south of the snow belt. My favorite home was a wood frame on a street without sidewalks. Drafts made their way in, and the single pane window near my bed got frost on the inside, which I like to scritch-scratch with my thumbnails. Sometimes we wore stocking caps to bed.

Which is to say that cold does not much bother me. Or, at least it didn’t when I was young. I went coatless and wore t-shirts no matter how low the Mercury went. As I have aged, I am a little less hot blooded. A little.

Chilly weather changes my appetite for drink. I’ll drink a cold lager in January, but my thirst for dark spirits is strong. The more powerful, the better. Harsh cold merits an intense spirit.

Scotch frequently fits the bill. I enjoy malts from the Lowlands to the Highlands, but my favorite whiskies tend to be the spirits made in the most weather-exposed parts of Scotland. Here are a handful of reasonable priced hearty Scotches I like, from mildest to the most beastly. All of them should be enjoyed neat, but add drops of water if you want to cut the intensity and open their flavors. Continue reading “Scotchy, Scotch: It’s cold out there”


Great Drinks for Dad On Father’s Day

El BuhoMan does not live by bread alone. And a father, well, he needs even more, what with the middle of the night wake-ups, the tantrums, and the exploded filthy diapers. I have four children. Under the age of 10. Just this evening, my four-year old got out of bed 7 or 8 times with assorted excuses, including “My eye hurts.”

Yes, my needs are many.

Come father’s day, my hope is that I can slip out at the sunrise and head to the river. There I’ll rent a rowboat, and make my way onto the water still turbid from today’s rain. Cormorants and other birds will lead me to a promising spot. I’ll pitch my anchor, bait treble hook rigs, and let the heavy line from two rods sink in the Potomac. With any luck, the catfish will hit, and I’ll return to dock midday feeling like a master caster.

That’s how I want to start my day.

And I will conclude Dad Day sitting outside with a glass in hand. A special day justifies a special drink, one I know and love. The possibilities are many, but any of these would do quite nicely:

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon: I really like this whiskey. It comes in a bulbous, perfume-like bottle that shows its deep amber color. Sometimes I can handle this 90 proof drink straight up; but usually I prefer it with a single ice cube, which softens it so I can better enjoy its rich flavors. It is worth every penny of the $30 to $35 a bottle my local retailer charges. Continue reading “Great Drinks for Dad On Father’s Day”


Laphroaig 18 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Laphroaig 18 YearWhat a week. We all caught norovirus and ended up exploded from every orifice.  Sleep was catch-as-catch-can, and the general misery index was high.

It is Friday, and it appears that everyone is on the mend. Light is at the end of the tunnel!

So it seem fitting to pour something special—Laphroaig 18 Years Old. Regularly readers of will know that we are Laphroaig lovers. We dig the 10-Year, the 15-Year, etc.

This 96 proof variant is a gem. It MUST be enjoyed neat—it is too good to be had any other way. Laphroaig 18 Years is thick with iodine and honey. Delicious, and extraordinarily satisfying on a chilly night. (Rating: Excellent)

To learn more about this malt, head to . You can try to score a bottle online via Internet Wines and Spirits or your local spirit shop.


Whisky Magazine Hosts a Single Malt Scotch Whisky Tasting

Marcin Miller, editor of the UK’s Whisky Magazine, was the host of a scotch tasting on September 17, 2002 in Manhattan. Twenty-plus journalists and brand representatives gathered in the second floor dining room of The Leash an exclusive club, where thirteen malts were presented. Among the standouts were:

Glen Garioch (pronounced Glen Geary): A $20 malt which is a terrific bargan. Soft, with a thick honey note, light peat, and a long close (Rating ***3/4).

Bruichladdich 15 Year (pronounced Brook Laddie): An astonighingly complex malt. So soft, so intriguing… Not to be missed. (Rating ****1/2) See our full review of Bruichladdich 15 and other Bruichladdich whiskies here

The Macallan Cask Strength: A whale of a malt. Orange colored, big, spicy, and a real belly warmer at 50.6%. (Rating ****)

Glen Morangie 1981 Sauternes Finish: Glen Morangie is always fruity and these wine casks add butter, wood, and a dollop of chocolate. Fascinating malt. (Rating ****)

Talisker 20 Year Old: 62% alcohol, it is, like other Taliskers, immense, with iodine, must, smoke, seaweed, and black pepper. There are only 1800 bottles allotted to the U.S. Alas. (Rating****)

Ardbeg Provenance: Taken from 1974 casks this whisky amazed a numbered of the tasters. 26 years (it was bottled in 2000) has made for a unique and glorious malt: peat that smells like burning embers, oaky-bourbon, and a bit sweet. It isn’t super complex, but it is perfectly integrated and balanced. A miracle, as it should be at $600 a bottle. (Rating *****)

Laphraoig 30 year: Big, gooey legs on this malt. Unlike the 10 year it is a touch sweet, and the peat has mellowed. It’s salty, soft, and delicious. (Rating****1/2)

To see if our retailer currently has these malts, click SHOP FOR WHISKY and type the brand name in the search engine and click the magnifying glass image.



Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 15 Years

Back in April 2008, we reviewed LAPHROAIG 10 YEAR, again. Now we are enjoying the slightly more a mature cousin.

Beyond the cold weather, we were prompted to hoist a scotch today, January 25, 2009, as it is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robbie Burns, that whiskey-loving, romantic poet from 18th century Scotland. If we really wanted to be true to Burns’ memory, I suppose we would sip whisky made in South Ayrshire, where he was born. Instead, we grabbed an Islay whisky, as whenever we think of Scotland our minds cannot help but recall our happy time on that lovely island.

LAPHROAIG 15 YEAR OLD WHISKY is delicious. It is much more demure than its 10 year old sibling. The iodine and peat notes are much softer, and it offers almonds and a wee blackberry note. Wonderful stuff, and worthy of our highest rating. (Rating *****)

To see if our retailer can sell you a bottle of LAPHROAIG, click here. Otherwise, check with the company that produces it,


Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky 10 Years Old

Ah, what was it — five years ago? — that we found ourselves at the LAPHROAIG distillery in Islay, peering over the water at Ireland in the misty distance. Ian Henderson, then the distillery manager, poured samples freely for a few of us, and entertained us with good chat. It was quite an experience.

We are where we are now, a very different place; yet, LAPHROAIG 10 (86 proof) remains delicious as ever. It is an iconic malt whisky; it can’t be confused with any other. It is not, for sure, a whisky for novices. It explodes with flavor— great layers of iodine beneath which lurk feint, sweet berry and honey flavors that can be glimpsed upon the swallow. Terrific– do add just a couple of drops of water to a neat dram to enjoy it. (Rating *****)

To see if our retailer can sell you a bottle of LAPHROAIG, click here. Otherwise, check with the company that produces it,