Among all the regions in Scotland, the Isle of Islay is arguably the most distinct when it comes to single malt\u00a0whisky, and all it takes is one whiff to know why. Creeping into your nostrils and soon pouring over your palate are copious amounts of delicious, succulent smoke, a bi-product of all the peat burned during production. And while the idea of a campfire swishing around one's mouth might not be to everyone's liking, those who relish peaty whiskies do so with tremendous satisfaction and loyalty.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSince around 1815,\u00a0Laphroaig has represented Islay one stunning expression at a time. Their 10-Year Old Single Malt remains a benchmark statement for peat lovers around the world. Expanding upon those core flavours to brilliant effect is the Laphroaig Triple Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky. It's our Spirit of the Month for January, and a perfect way to kick off the new year. Read on for some background and tasting notes.\r\n\r\n\r\nYou\u2019ll also like:\r\nSpirit of the Month November '17 - Woodford Reserve Cherry Wood Smoked Barley\r\nSpirit of the Month October \u201917 \u2013 Russell\u2019s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon\r\nSpirit of the Month December \u201917 \u2013 Fortaleza Reposado Tequila\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHistory\r\nThe year was 1815, and two brothers named Donald and Alexander Johnston leased 1000 acres of land on the south coast Isle of Islay. The plan was to to rear cattle, which they did in the early years. But what to do with all the excess barley that they used as feed for their livestock? Given their surroundings, the answer was obvious: make whisky. Not just any whisky, but some of the finest whisky in the area. Soon, the brothers were earning more from the whisky than they were the cattle, and it became obvious that they should focus on distillation full time. They named their distillery after the land itself: Laphroaig.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn 1836, Donald bought out Alexander's share of the operation, and became the sole owner. Sadly, Donald would pass away just nine years later, reportedly after falling into a vat of whisky (what a way to go!). Donald left behind an 11 year old son, Dugald, who by 1857 was running the distillery with his cousin.\r\n\r\nIn the early days of\u00a0Laphroaig, the whisky was primarily used in blends by other labels. One of those other labels was the neighbouring distillery of Lagavulin, owned by Mackie & Co. By 1857, Dugald decided he wanted to produce more single malts, putting a wrench in his agreement with Mackie & Co. That led to a decades-long dispute between the two distilleries, which prompted Mackie & Co. to end their contract and take\u00a0Laphroaig to court in 1887, accusing them of illegal practices.\u00a0Laphroaig won the case and was able to continue producing acclaimed single malt whiskies.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn spite of the court decision, the feud between\u00a0Laphroaig and Mackie & Co. carried into the early 20th century. Not only that, but the feud turned very ugly, with Peter Mackie (of Mackie & Co.) resorting to some truly duplicitous tactics. One tactic was to block off\u00a0Laphroaig's water supply, Killbride Stream, delivering a crucial blow to Laphroaig's operation. However, the courts quickly intervened and\u00a0Laphroaig was up and running in no time. The next measure Mackie took was to poach Laphroaig's head brewer, and have him build an identical still house, all in hopes of replicating their spirit. Fortunately for Laphroaig, Mackie's resulting product just wasn't the same. Peter Mackie's last resort was to try and buy Laphroaig's land out from under them, however his two attempts were ultimately unsuccessful.\r\n\r\nBecause of Mackie's constant meddling,\u00a0Laphroaig was financially struggling by 1921. That was when Ian Hunter--a descendant of the Johnson family line--took over and revitalised the operation.\u00a0Laphroaig grew steadily and soon became a player in countries like America.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the mid 1930s, Hunter passed on all his secrets to Bessie Williamson (aka the "First Lady of Scotch"). She would end up running operations from 1954-1972. During that time,\u00a0Laphroaig perfected its aging methods and other production techniques among other things. In order to better compete on the world stage, Williamson sold the company while keeping the brand's most vital secrets intact. Her legacy still looms large over at\u00a0Laphroaig Distillery.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOver the years that followed,\u00a0Laphroaig only grew in terms of both sales and reputation. In 1994, Prince Charles gave the distillery his Royal Warrant, hence the coat of arms on every bottle. In 2015,\u00a0Laphroaig celebrated its 200th anniversary with the release of some limited edition bottles, including a Cairdeas release, which celebrates their friendship with other distilleries. To this day they deliver a truly classic, smoky dram enjoyed by millions worldwide.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nTasting\r\nThe first thing any drinker (experienced or not) will notice when cracking open a bottle of\u00a0Laphroaig are the heaping waves of smoke curling out from the top. That's because the peat moss in Islay is unlike anything else in the world.\u00a0Laphroaig hand-cuts their peat moss, and dries it out for three months before burning it in special peat kilns. It's over that peat fire that\u00a0Laphroaig dries its malt for about 17 hours at a time.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAnother crucial ingredient in\u00a0Laphroaig whisky is the peat-laden water from Killbride Stream.\u00a0Laphroaig uses the water to soak its barley before the malting process. While still damp, the barley goes over a slow-burning peat fire. After that, it's off the mash house for fermentation. Next stop is the still house for double-distillation, followed by aging in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels. The Triple Wood, meanwhile, is further matured in quarter casks and then European oak ex-sherry casks.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe result of all that tireless technique and aging is a spirit firing on all cylinders.\u00a0Laphroaig isn't afraid to use words like "medicinal" or smoky to describe their whiskies, but in this case the iodine and peat are rounded out by robust notes of sweetness and nuttiness. Here's a breakdown:\r\n\r\nNose:\u00a0At first whiff comes an expected blast of wonderful, intense smoke. That's laced with iodine, sherry, vanilla, cherry, bourbon, walnuts, dates and fruit.\r\n\r\nTaste:\u00a0The spirit delivers a full-bodied explosion of flavour, rife with familiar elements like smoke and chocolate, but also fruit, cherry, spice and cereal.\r\n\r\nFinish:\u00a0A dense and smooth finish mixes smoke, chocolate, espresso, spice, black pepper and oak with time-tested precision.\r\n\r\nAt the core of\u00a0Laphroaig Triple Wood are the same base notes of peat, iodine and chocolate-covered espresso beans that you might find in the 10 Year. However, that's joined by a robust and dynamic array of flavours, allowing the expression to not only stand on its own, but arguably transcend a number of its counterparts. Suffice to say, lovers of bold character will find plenty to cherish here. The spirit is full bodied, smoky, a little nutty, a little spicy, a little fruity and a little sweet. Originally, the Triple Wood was offered only in duty-free shops. I, for one, am forever grateful that\u00a0Laphroaig gave this delicious spirit a broader shelf-life of its own.\r\nCheck it out\r\n\r\n\r\nYou\u2019ll also like:\r\nSpirit of the Month November '17 - Woodford Reserve Cherry Wood Smoked Barley\r\nSpirit of the Month October \u201917 \u2013 Russell\u2019s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon\r\nSpirit of the Month December \u201917 \u2013 Fortaleza Reposado Tequila\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHave you subscribed to Man of Many? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.