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Laphroag look-alike???

I like Laphroag single malt Scotch because of its smoky character but it can be incredibly expensive. I need to replace an almost empty bottle. Any suggestions about equal Scotches, lower in price, that match the taste and quality? We have access to most major stores here in Orange County, including Trader Joes, Costco, BevMo, etc.

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  1. Your best bet is to try the Finlaggan, which is sold at Trader Joe's (in San Francisco) for about $18. It is an Islay-made malt that should be similar to Laphroag, although I cannot promise you will like it as much.

    There is a thread on "The Return of Finlaggan to SoCal Trader Joe's" from last week on this board. Check it out for more info.

    Also check out:


    1. Laphroig, which I can get for $30 at TJ's, is about the most affordable Islay malt out there. The only alternatives would be unnamed malts such as Finlaggan or blends: The Smokey Peaty One from JMR Easy Drinking Company goes for about $23 but doesn't have as smokey a bite as Laphroig.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sku

        Jeesh, I just paid over $40 for 10-yr Laphroag this weekend at our local state-run liquor store, and according to the price, it was on sale for about $7 off the regular price. Even in St. Thomas earlier this month, the duty-free shops both in Charlotte Amalie and at the airport had it for $35. $30 sounds like a steal....

      2. Islay malts are among the smokiest out there. All the "known" distilleries are generally in the $30+ range. Your alternatives are therefore somewhat limited, and the above suggestions are quite possibly your best bet. (In other words, there's no great "undiscovered" Islay malt out there.)

        1. You could also look for a line of whiskies produced by "Jon, Mark & Robbo." I have seen them at BevMo. One of their whiskies is from Islay malts. It is called "The Smokey Peaty One." I think their whiskies sell for around $25.

          I see I have duped what SKU mentioned above, here is a link to JM&R:


          By the way, if you do try the Finlaggan or any of the alternatives suggested here, please let us know how they compare to Laphroag!

          1. Finding something with the "peaty" smokiness of Laphroaig at a cheaper price would seem to be a difficult task. YOu might try Bowmore Legend, which you might be able to find at around $20. See: http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions/....
            I can find bourbon and other whiskeys with a smokey flavor. Bourbons have a smokey flavor, because they have to be aged in newly charred barrells. Some Irish whsikeys from the Cooley distillery have a prety smokiness, but it's not the same as Laphroaig. Connemara is peat and smokey, but it's not anything like, imo, Laphroaig, and a bottle of Connemara is going to cost you at least $30.

            1. I second the Bowmore Legend-excellent value and has that lovely peaty punch. Not as smooth as Laphroaig, but my choice for an everyday-type scotch. Another option that is fairly inexpensive and packed with peat is Black Bottle, which is a blended scotch containing malts from the 7 active Islay distilleries. I've seen here in New England priced in the mid 20s. Laphroaig, meanwhile is usually at least $40. I've always been fascinated by the price variations from store to store and even more so now by region...

              2 Replies
              1. re: pork_chop

                The pricing/profit margins/tax issues relative to how spirits and wines are sold often amaze me as well. I can buy a bottle of 12-year old Dalmore whisky (a very good single-malt from the Scottish Highlands) for $20 at Trader Joe's in San Francisco, while the same bottle would cost me at least 70% more in Scotland.

                1. re: pork_chop

                  I have to second Black Bottle as a cheap way of getting a taste of Islay on the cheap. It is a blend and it is not as smoky as Laphroaig but here in Tulsa (gasp!) I can get it for $16.

                2. Dun Bheagan has an unchillfiltered 8 year old Islay Single Malt that's very good. Up in Toronto, it's priced just over $40, which is a bargain compared to most single malts. If it is available in your area, it should be in your price range.

                  1. Consider yourselves lucky guys, I am in Australia, and have not been able to find a decent peated whisky for under $70 a bottle. Laphroag and Lagavulin both run around $100 a bottle.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: PeatPete

                      On the Finlaggan issue, I have a thread here on what used to be a fine peaty scotch. Finlaggan has changed. The color has changed from a dark brown to an amber and so has the nose and taste. The stockers at Trader Joe's do not rotate their stock. When I go hunting for the old Finlagan I remove all the bottles looking for what dark treasure I might find in the back.

                      1. re: ozbuc

                        Bowemore Legend is excellent for the price. Also, you should seek out Black Bottle. it's a blend of Islay only malts. Ususally around $30.

                        1. re: ozbuc

                          Chances are the darker samples have caramel coloring in them, and the paler color is the natural color, unless they hace realy changed the product... you may be rejecting their attempt to give you a more pure whisky!

                          1. re: PeatPete

                            PeatPete, I recently sent an email to the good folks at Finlaggan and their reply was almost word for word to what you stated in your last post. I still believe that this scotch has changed. This is not a bad product but just different. There is a theory out there that Finlaggan is not a distiller itself but a company that purchases left over product from other distilleries.

                            1. re: ozbuc

                              It's not a theory, it's fact. Finlaggan is not a distillery. They purchase their whisky from other distilleries and bottle it under the Finlaggan label. This is common practice in whisky, so there is nothing devious about the practice so long as they aren't claiming they distilled it themselves, which I don't believe they are.


                              1. re: sku

                                SKU thanks for the link, it provided some interesting reading. One thing I found interesting is that the email I received from Finlaggan had a Glascow address. They may purchase their whiskey from Islay but it seems that at least their office is elsewhere.

                                1. re: ozbuc

                                  Sounds like it would be an interesting way to buy whisky. I have only had a bit of a look around, but so far I havent been able to find any sign of Finlaggen in Australia.

                      2. Stop being a cheapskate... F'n $30 for a good scotch and you're complaining.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Beachowolfe

                          You do realize the original post was from 2006 and prices are a lot higher today right? Laphroaig 10 is difficult to find under $40 these days, the cheapest I have seen it is Hi time wine in Cali for $36 and it is $55 here in NC.

                          1. re: ncyankee101

                            Laphroiag is till $32 or $33 at So Cal Trader Joe's. Finlaggan is up to $19, I think, but is a hollow version of the flavors in Laphroiag.

                            1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                              At one time last year Hi-time had Laphroaig 10 yr for $30 and the quarter cask for $35 (!!). Unfortunately I waited too long to order and now the QC is $53 :-(

                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                Ha, I did not notice that. But apparently it doesn't matter as it's only $32 now. I stand by my statement and from your pricing info you should too.

                                1. re: Beachowolfe

                                  It may be only $32 at TJs in So Cal, but unless they ship liquor to other parts of the country (which I don't believe they do) that is meaningless to anyone who doesn't live nearby, and since the best prices I have seen outside California are $40 or higher, I stand by MY statement that it is difficult to find these days for less than $40.

                                  Even Hi time's price of $36 precludes shipping costs, so for comparison ~$50 for just one bottle or ~$40 if you spread shipping costs over several bottles.