Wow. The Whiskey Show was intense, exhilarating, and emotional, with treasures to be found in every corner. Now, as I land back home, I’m feeling a bit confused and down after the high.

For me, the strongest dynamic at the show was between the desire to learn from the experts in various workshops and the need to experience the rare and extraordinary whiskies that I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try. Especially with whiskey maestros like Yuri, Nissim, Oren, and Adam around.

There were three expressions that I absolutely had to taste first, and they were my top priority as soon as the doors opened (crazy lines). These were the three Laphroaigs from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1980s with tokens. What can I say? Two Laphroaigs signed by Bessie—what more could you want? The bottle from 1953, destined for the U.S., is 91.4 proof (divide by two for ABV). Remember, this was the era when Bessie was working hard to get Laphroaig into the U.S. market. The peat here is much deeper in the ground, used to dry the barley rather than flavor it. Therefore, the taste is much more meaty, deep, rich, and earthy—less smoky but not lacking in sweetness.

Next, I tasted the bottle destined for Germany in the 1980s. The peat there was different from that of the 1950s but also from today. More delicate and elegant, less rich and muddy—light, if you can say that about Laphroaig. I believe it was 43% ABV. Sweeter, too.

The third was from the 1960s and was simply perfection. I was bummed that I couldn’t record the aroma in the glass—more smoke than the ’50s, less than the ’80s. Peat, richness, a slight sweetness. Incredible. They destroyed me.

That’s it for now. I’ll share more later.

I’ve included a photo of Angus, from whom I want private lessons and to live in his brain for a few weeks with his knowledge of rare whiskies. I’ll be back once I recover with a panel on the past, present, and future of Japanese whisky that I did with Adam Gruss.


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