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Nose: salty peat and iodine. Water brings out a little more smoke, but this isn't what I would call a smokey Scotch. More like the smell of ash the morning after a bonfire. But the peat and iodine are way out front. After a few minutes, I begin to pick up citrus and vanilla, just out of reach behind the iodine. It kind of teases you.
Body: full and chewy.
Palate: a little smokier than the nose, but the peat and iodine are still most prominent. I also taste wood chips and buttered, whole-wheat sweet bread, and a hint of black licorice.
Finish: long and warm. Smokier still than the palate. It takes a second for the pepper to burst forth, but even then, the pepper isn't nearly as overwhelming as reputed. Definite black licorice and cough syrup after-taste. Everything from my lips to the back of my throat feel warm and numb for minutes after I've finished my glass.
I got to open my anniversary present a day early -- a ten year for my ten year -- and it did not disappoint. I've heard so many stories of this being painfully peppery or overwhelmingly medicinal. Neither proved true for my mouth. I probably would have hated this a year ago, but now it strikes me as a pretty well-balanced and smooth option among the more challenging whiskeys out there. This isn't my favorite, but I could easily see myself alternating between this and the Laphroaig Quarter Cask in my cabinet.