Originally Posted by Wine&Scotch
I would never, repeat never, offer an Islay, let alone Laphroig, to a new Scotch drinker. That's like giving Guinness to new beer drinker.
Laphroaig is the most extreme example of a peaty, medicinal, Islay. It is no wonder that new Scotch drinkers would find it difficult to appreciate.
The 10 y.o. is the most medicinal and peaty. To understand the Quarter Cask you have to go back to the old days when the whiskey was transported by horse and dray. The large vats were too big to be hauled over hill and dale so they used smaller casks about a quarter the size of the vats, hence the name. The whiskey would slosh these casks as it was transported and this contact with the oak brought a richer, mellow character to the whiskey, a "sweeter" note if you will.
To understand this concept of sweet in whiskey think of people who are drinking beer for the first time. To them all beer is bitter so they would not be able to differentiate between beer that is hoppy and those that are "sweet".
Anyway, I wish you all the best in your journey throught the world of single malt whiskeys.
The 'quarter-cask' is now used to more or less 'speed age' malts. The idea being that more of the whiskey,less actual fluid in a sealed cask, comes into contact with the wood, overall making an 8y/o single malt seemingly take on the complexities of a 10-12 y/o that was aged in bigger liquid volume. An example of the pinnacle of 'make your eyes water' peat, in my opinion, would be Ardbeg 10y/o (as an easily available option). you could say it's the final stop on the peat journey, both figuratively and literally.
To the Original Poster: I hope you have found some comfort with that bottle and are winning the peat war. I find the island distilleries have a lasting quality with the taste, I feel satisfied as if after a big meal. As a previous poster mentioned adding a few drops of water may calm it a bit as 48% alc. is quite strong. I'm not sure what type of glass you are drinking it out of, but I would recommend letting your pour sit a good while to mellow, I have found some of the heavy smoke qualities from the nose alone can produce some added gag if not left to aerate for at least a few minutes. The water should make the nose a little less sharp and smokey and if air gets to it you may find those elusive nutty flavors and enjoy the long salty finish.