Flaviar Scotch Whiskey Samples

Flaviar is a "modern day speakeasy membership club for people wanting to discover the world of fine spirits." Basically, it's a website/blog through which you can sign up to try samples of hard to find (and easy to find) bourbon, rye, whiskey, gin, cognac, rum, etc. They apparently have 15,000 varieties. It's a great way to dabble without having to spend $100+ on a 750 mL bottle of something you're not sure you'll like. We wanted to challenge our palates with some well-regarded Scotch whiskies and Flaviar came through. Free shipping too.

Flaviar sent me 4 oz. samples of Auchentoshan 12; Glenlivet 18; Lagavulin 16; Laphroaig Quarter Cask; and Singleton of Dufftown 15. Before I got to drinking, I conducted basic research on the distilleries. I was blown away by the fact that every one of them was established in the 1800s. Four out of five were established before 1825. Many of the bourbons I drink are made at distilleries that didn't exist ten years ago, or even five years ago. I also consulted Flaviar's "flavour spiral" for a general idea of what to smell and taste for. It's a helpful tool for nerds trying to calibrate their senses.

I have never enjoyed big, peaty, smoky Scotches, but I went in to this open-minded. Here are some basic conclusions:

1) As a daily bourbon drinker, I prefer the light, more delicate Scotches to the rich, smoky/peaty ones.

2) Peat is an acquired aroma and taste. Laphroaig's Quarter Cask and Lagavulin's 16-year are pungent and medicinal to me. It was actually painful to finish those two.

3) If you're in to home vatting/experimenting, the peaty Islay Scotches blend exceptionally well with sweeter American whiskeys. Try adding a few drops of Lagavulin to Angel's Envy Rye (finished in Caribbean rum casks).

Here are how the whiskeys ranked for me. I am sure daily Scotch drinkers will call me a wuss!

1) Singleton of Dufftown 15 (straightforward, pleasant nose; malty, woody flavor but not overwhelming)
2) Auchentoshan 12 (gentle nose; sweeter palate with some honey and vanilla)
3) Glenlivet 18 (getting smokier; huge nose, oaky, smoky, grain forward, long finish)
4) Lagavulin 16 (Oh God! Smells like a decaying fish; the peat has a chemical quality)
5) Laphroaig Quarter Cask (yeah. wow. peat. antiseptic).