I tend to like smokey things... smoked meat, cheese, liquid smoke. I like smoking tobacco. I like camp fires. I like anything cooked over fire. So it was only natural that I would like alcohol aged in charred barrels. I had all the big name US whiskies at first, but really I rarely drank them because they weren't that good and I don't care for alcohol that much. There was no escaping the spirit taste and it was easy for me to be offended by too much sugar (jim beam, southern comfort, etc).
This is hillbilly country, but I'm also not too far from Atlanta and Chattanooga, so its a clash of cultures. Most people drink budlite beer or jagermeister, but the liquor stores have a decent scotch selection. They even carry Laph now.
My friend, who I mentioned before, drinks canadian whiskey almost exclusively. He's an old beer drinker who stopped drinking beer for health reasons and drinks canandian because its the cheapest thing he can choke down. But he drinks for the alcohol effect and not so much the taste. I can't torture myself like that. That canadian is absolutely horrible. He agrees its not good, but he likes the spirit taste... and $17 for 1.75L, the price is hard to beat.
Out of all the whisky I have, the only one he would consider paying money for would be the Laph. I'm sure if Aberlour came in a 1.75L jug for $17, he would buy it, but at $40 a 1/5 he sees that as grinding up fillet mignon to make burgers. $40 a bottle is expensive in the minds of most people. They're not used to savoring whisky drop by drop... they guzzle a bottle shot by shot.
Big names scare me. I've learned that too many companies ride on their name. Whether it be whisky or lawn mowers. Luckily this creates a void in the market for new-comers and while everyone is busy buying a flashy name, I can be sipping a bottle of something plain.
Another reason to like Laph. Plain bottle. Label is pasted on crooked. Website is fairly plain. If you watch the videos, you'll see the stuff they have is old and simple. They're not worried about how the place looks, they just want to make a good product.
If you were here, I'd give you a glass of Caol Ila and Peat Monster. I can't taste peat in either one. I'd love to hear what you think. From what you've been saying about not liking the peat so much, but liking everything else about Islay, I'm betting you will like Caol Ila and Peat Monster (has Caol Ila in it). Caol Ila is very easy to drink. Nothing really special, but nothing offensive either. Most of what Caol Ila produces, goes into blends.... like Peat Monster. It says on the Monster bottle that its a thinking man's whisky. I think he nailed that one perfectly.
The sherried whiskies... I have trouble getting around the alcohol taste. I think the oil and lack of cold-filtered in the Islays does a great job of masking the flavor of alcohol. The sherries are stripped clean and really have to be a great drink to be able to mask the alcohol taste. I suppose that's where the good barrels come in... of which there aren't so many anymore. With demand like it is, the whiskey from the good barrels will be at a huge premium. I'm not sure what you're interpreting as sulfur. Maybe I'm not sure what sulfur tastes like. Could it be the spirit taste?
Oh, I've been meaning to ask... what did you think of the Springbank?