Laphroaig is the name of one out of 9 whisky distilleries on the Scottish island of Islay. Laphroaig have about 17 different kinds of scotch whiskies. This single malt distillery is known for its peaty taste. Among their best are Quarter Cask, Cask Strength and 18 Years Old.
Does Laphroaig contain iodine?
During the prohibition period in the United States, one particular whisky was allowed. Why? Laphroaig’s Scotch contains iodine. It was therefore classified as a medicine. The substance is widely used in dietary supplements. But why does iodine turn up in some smoky whiskies; Islay Scotch in particular?
What determines the different elements found in Islay whisky? The short answer is fresh water added during the distillation process, the drying of the malt and the aging in wooden casks. Surprisingly enough they might all contribute to a higher content of iodine in the whisky.
The larger part of the addition happens where local peat is burned to dry the malt. The peat contains sea water from the spray and wind from the sea. When the smoke from the peat seeps into the malt, the iodine is transferred in the process.
Secondly, there is an unknown quantity of iodine in some of the fresh water used in the distillery process. According to an article from Research Gate, Iodine in Malt whisky: A Preliminary Analysis (source) fresh water amount to very little of the iodine in Scotch from the Islay area.
And here is the third possible source that contribute to Laphroaig’s iodine taste: Whisky is aged in wooden casks before bottled. According to research iodine seems to be released from the charred white oak in to the whisky.
Now we established that whisky has medicinal properties. Can you safely turn alcoholic as long as you chose a Laphroaig whisky with a lot of iodine? Not so fast! Unfortunately, the damaging effect of alcohol far outweighs the benefits, so go easy on the bottle
Who makes Ben Bracken Islay Whisky?
The short answer to this question is «Lidl», but as we all know this is nothing more than a trumped-up grocery store, so could such a pearl of a single malt Scotch really be produced by them?
Even though Lidl has the production rights on this peaty whisky, the true origin might be credited to one of the distilleries on Islay that is one of the Scottish Island with almost mythical status within the whisky community.
The general consensus seems to be that Bowmore distillery is to thank for this reasonably priced, yet popular, single malt Scotch. Bowmore is one out of 9 distilleries on the island of Islay where Ben bracken is being distilled. To be fair most of the manufacturing process should be credited to Bowmore. However, Lidl has bottled the product and put their own brand on it. In that sense they have the legal right to the product.
Why are Islay Whiskies peaty?
Whisky from Islay is often peaty because of the production process it goes through. As you might guess peat is used to produce whiskies with a peaty taste. First, peat is harvested for the purpose of whisky production. Then it is burned to produce smoke with “peaty” flavor. Finally, the distillers let the malted grain in the whisky absorb the flavored smoke.
To be able to use this method of old, you need to have a reasonably cool climate, such as in Scotland, that favors the growth of peat. Peat is basically just vegetation that has not fully decayed, but is rather stuck in layers of half rotten plant material. In the northern region peat was used as a source of energy and heat from ancient times.
The actual process that lets the peaty flavor seep into the malt is when it is being dried over a peat heated fire. The smoke is then absorbed by the barley grain that is later used in the whisky distillery process.
People like the peated taste in whisky. Scotch whiskies gained a lot of popularity in the 1880 when the French brandy industry suffered greatly. The popularity was further strengthened in the US when all alcohol was banned with the exception of Laphroaig whisky, because of its medicinal properties credited to the iodine in it. However, the popularity of the peated whisky, that we experience today, is brand new: It did not happen until the millennium.
How to pronounce "Islay» whisky?
Islay (ɑ́jlə) is one of Scotland’s most southern Islands, and we can use this image to pronounce the word correctly. The word consists of two parts. The first part we can pronounce just like you would the word “isle”. The other part is simple the first vowel sound you pronounce in the word “isle”, so your mouth is wide open and it will sound like -uh. So, the word “Islay” has the exact same vowel sound in the beginning and at the end of the word.
If you think of it in terms of syllables, we have two of them. The first one is the word “eye”. The second syllable is -luh as if you were a musician singing vocables; La-la-la-la.
Below you can see the video. It might be easier to actually hear it pronounced. And remember: It is a lot easier to say before you drink too much Islay whisky.