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I'm a home mixologist, but a relative newcomer to scotch. I'm looking for a very smoky scotch to use in small amounts for certain cocktails. The float on a Penicillin, a rinse of the glass for a smoked Old-Fashioned or Manhattan. But I'd also like this bottle for drinking neat or with a bit of water if I'm in the mood. Single malt or blend is fine, but I'd like to keep it at $60 or less.
I picked up Laphroiag 10-year, as it's one of the most commonly-recommended for this purpose, but after a couple weeks with it I don't think it's the right one for me. My problem with it is not the smoke, but rather the powerful medicinal, iodine, and hospital-like aromas and flavors. These notes come through for me even in a simple rinse and put me off, and I don't feel they blend too nicely with other ingredients in mixed drinks.
So what I'm looking for is something very smoky but not at all medicinal, if that's possible! I want a "bonfire" or woody smokiness, without the iodine. So far my understanding is that mainland peat (like you get in the uncommon peated Speysides) is less heavy on those medicinal notes than the Islays. I've also heard Caol Ila 12 is less medicinal than the Laphroiag 10, but I'm wary as many reviewers still describe a faint iodine taste to it. From all my research to date I think something like the Benromach Peat Smoke is my best bet to go with next, but unfortunately it isn't sold anywhere near me. So I wanted to see what you all thought here about this conundrum and see what other suggestions you might have before buying a new bottle.
Thanks for your time!
P.S. - to give you a sense of some blends I've enjoyed, I feel the light peat smoke of Johnnie Walker Black and Teacher's Highland Cream both form a great base for a Blood & Sand (perhaps my favorite scotch cocktail). Personally I don't get anything band-aid-like or medicinal from either of those. Still, they aren't smoky enough - I want more smoke, and it'd be great if I could have something strong enough on hand to control the amount of smoke on a per-drink basis.
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