LAPHROAIG—DOES ISLAY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? One reason I enjoy Laphroaig is the image of peat fires on a remote island that comes to me when I drink it. Andrew Jefford in the Financial Times (March 16-17) takes up the claim that “the significance of location in creating flavour in malt whisky is just a myth”. The argument is that whisky is different from wine. The vineyard that a wine comes from makes a difference; “terroir” matters for the flavor of wine. In contrast, Islay water would not affect flavor, and barley can come from anywhere. This was the argument made at a seminar hosted by Jefford. The theory is that the distinctive taste of each single malt whisky comes entirely from the refining process. There are hundreds of differences between two refineries, and it is these quirks that produce the different tastes.

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