This month we are excited to present our Laphroig 10 Dark Chocolate Bar! Laphroig Distillery lies on the island of Islay, a region of Scotland famous for its peated-style Scotch whisky. And, when it comes to whisky, Scotland stands above the rest.
In the fifteenth century, Scotland was predominantly an agrarian society, and barley was a Scottish farmer’s best friend. It was a hearty ingredient for soups and porridge on the dinner table, and remnants could be used as animal feed. Best of all, it was brilliant in the production of beer and whisky.
Scotland was ideally suited for barley cultivation. It’s mild, maritime climate is temperate, but rarely extreme, avoiding droughts and floods. Its soils are diverse, well draining and fertile, resulting in some of the most productive areas for wheat and barley in the world. Finally, its long daylight hours in the summer months afford a longer growing season. For some coastal regions battered by strong winds that limit tree growth, residents creatively turned to peat as a cheap and abundant fuel source for cooking and drying barley. This practice translated into one of the most defining characteristics of certain Scotch whiskies: its smoky flavor. This month’s Laphroig 10 dark chocolate bar is our salute to this time-honored tradition.
Until the early nineteenth century, Scotch whisky was defined by single malts in pot stills. A pot still, the conventional method for whiskey production, consists of a large kettle or pot which is heated from the bottom, boiling off the alcohol and allowing the vapors to be condensed and separated. Although this extracted the finest flavors, it operated on a batch-by-batch basis and was correspondingly burdensome and expensive.
In 1831, that changed with the invention of the column still by Aeneas Coffey, allowing for continuous distillation, and the rise in production of grain whisky. Softer and less intense than its malty brethren, grain whisky appealed to a larger audience, and could be blended with malts to produce different flavors and structure.
Scotland goes to great length to ensure the quality of its whiskey and to preserve its authenticity. The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 provide a legal framework for a whiskey to be labeled “Scotch,” including ingredients, alcohol strength, maturation time and conditions, geographical requirements, packaging, and advertising. Legal requirements, based on the historical needs of the region, are intended to guarantee a certain level of quality for the consumer.
Today, Scotch dwarfs most other whiskey regions. Scotland contains approximately 100 distilleries, most of which barter spirit in cashless transactions for blending purposes. I’ll trade this fine smoky concoction for one of your light, fruity varieties. This is a luxury of Scotch whiskey uncommon in other regions, such as Ireland and Japan.
This bar reflects the quality and precision that has come to define Scotch whisky. With hints of peat and smoke, the fragrance and flavors leave you unequivocally on Islay. The balance with flavors of caramel, coffee, fudge, vanilla, and toffee leave you with a wonderfully complex bar that holds true to its sense of place and tradition.