Aug 232018
 

Elements of Islay Lp8

53.5% abv

Score:  89.5/100

 

I know there’s a fair bit of interest in these Elements of Islay releases, so let’s dig in to a rather juicy little specimen from Laphroaig.

If you’re feeling a little out of the loop as to what these austerely packaged little oddballs actually are let’s see if we can’t first catch you up a bit before we discuss the dram at hand.

Elements of Islay is the brainchild of Sukhinder Singh, he of The Whisky Exchange fame.  The man behind Elixir Distillers.  The evil genius who tempts us with the Port Askaig expressions.  Yeah…that guy.  Elements are small batch releases from the distilleries of the land of peat and smoke.  Each distillery is given a two digit alpha code appended with a numeric.  The alphas hint at the distillery (i.e. Lp = Laphroaig) while the numerics reveal the batch number.  As you can see, then, this would be the eighth release of Laphroaig.  Easy as pie, right?

Up until recently the only place I had been able to sample these malts was on forays across to the motherland.  Thankfully the good folks at Pacific Wine & Spirits have been bringing ’em into Alberta for the past few months.  We’ve seen some super cool Octomore, Bunnahabhain, Bowmore and a couple versions of the much-lauded ‘Peat’ land on our shores.  Cool stuff, and I am definitely a big fan of this range.  It does seem odd, however, that one of the whisky world’s greatest and most experienced personalities would opt for NAS releases.  I assume it has to do with these vattings being a mix of largely mature stocks, for a decent degree of complexity, and a younger barrel or two thrown in for vibrancy and heftier smoke profile.  That’s just speculation, though.  Otherwise, the only rationale I could come up with would be that the age statements associated simply don’t support the price point.  I hate to think that’s reason.  But at $280 for a 500 mL bottle?  Who knows?

Discounting that sad little truth, however…great dram, this.  Gooey, chewy and utterly delicious.  Jammy Laphroaig in this style is a treat.

Nose: Hmmm.  Smells like sherried Laphroaig.  Vinegary BBQ note.  Charred rib ends.  Sweet, tangy berry coulis.  Mint jelly smashed headlong into raspberry jam and smeared on slightly burnt toast.  Cherry cordials.  Nice and lively.  And uber smoky.  No sulphur to be found!

Palate: Sharp and punchy.  Love it!  Sweet, gooey and mouthwatering.  Berry jams again, on almost-burnt toast.  And again, saucy meaty tones.  Almost Ardbeggian.  Like smushing a red, black and green ju-jube in your mouth at the same time.

Thoughts: Right in my wheelhouse.  Great style.  Not a great price, unfortunately.  Nearly $300 for a 50cl bottle.  Ouch.  If you have some restraint (in terms of speed of consumption) and deep enough pockets…a really good score, however.

 

– Image & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 11:08 am
May 012018
 

Laphroaig 25 y.o. Cask Strength 2015

46.8% abv

Score:  91.5/100

 

It’s always a treat returning to this wizened old granddad of the Islay family.  I’ve tasted this expression going back to 2008 and every year is a balancing act between restraint and indulgence.  Part of me itches to pop the cork with a couple of mates and not stop until we reach the bottom.  Another part of me recognizes how special the malt is and keeps my indulgent side at bay.  A true Jeckyll and Hyde show.

Yes, of course there have been ups and downs in this run of 25s, but there is not one I haven’t loved and savoured along the way.  As you’d expect, soft and restrained smoky tones smash head-on into a melange of gentle fruits that run the gambit from juicy orange and lime to soft melon and pseudo-tropical trappings.  The resulting spirit is never short of delicious and more often than not hits the spectacular mark.  Campbell and co. at Laphroaig know what they’re doing when it comes to ensuring the more mature stocks are kept tiptop and the resultant vattings are consistently excellent.

As for the 2015?  Beauty.  The 2016 is better, but it’s nothing more than shades and nuances.  If you can afford the sticker price (high, I know), it’s well worth securing a bottle.  At the very least hit up your local whisky bar (if such exists wherever you may be) and sip a dram.  You’ll not be disappointed.

Nose:  Soft and beautiful.  Driven by soft fruits – almost tropical – and very clean white smoke (by that I mean not black, dirty, oily smoke).  Creamy and threaded through with oily vanilla bean.  Slightly minerally.  A little grilled pineapple (brilliant caramelized sugar notes) and charred orange peel.  Black Wine Gums.  Faint lime notes.  Rubber band and fabric bandages.  Give it time in the glass for the smoke to grow.

Palate:  Almost tropical again, and an incredibly bold and lively delivery.  Rich and gorgeous.  Some tannins do grow toward the back end though.  Surprisingly jammy and gooey.  Rubber and char notes.  Great soft confusion of flavors (hinting at good integration/complexity).  Slightly more vegetal here.  Some grapefruit too.  Gorgeous development.

Thoughts:  I think we’ve said it all, haven’t we?

 

 – Image & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 12:16 am
Aug 072017
 

img_4054Laphroaig 27 y.o.

57.4/100

Score:  93/100

 

I struggle with reviews like this one.  There’s always the question as to the value in posting them.  Any time I’m jotting notes for a long gone, overly-expensive or single cask release I question if I’m actually providing content that matters.  Let’s face it…only a wee handful of folks will ever try these drams.  So why bother, right?  I suppose the flip side is that we all sort of have an obligation to record what we can as we can for the sake of posterity.  Far too much has already been lost to time already, even in the tiny microcosm of the whisky world.  So…forgive the indulgence with some of these oddballs, but I think we’ll keep throwing them out there.  Especially seeing as how few others can or will.  Let’s keep our liquid history alive.

This l’il gem was a real treat tossed in at the end of an utterly spectacular Laphroaig tasting I took part in some time back.  While we went beyond this one in terms of age (up to the spectacular 40!), this one had to cap the eve, as its overwhelming depth of sherry would have buried the more delicate 30 and 40 year olds.  The soupy viscosity of this lagoon-black dream dram was in a league all its own that night and, quite frankly, probably on any other night as well.

It’s malts like this that help keep the excitement alive.  Shame they’re so few and far between nowadays, but it makes the hunt a bit more sporting and the catch just that much more special.  Being a 2007 release (distilled in 1980), I imagine it’s well-nigh impossible to track down a dram of this stuff, but if you can, do so.  972 bottles from a vatting of five Oloroso barrels.

Nose:  An absolute explosion of sherry.  The kind of drink you need to spend time with.  Orange zest.  Orange fruit flesh.  Thick jam.  Cherry and raspberry.  Chocolate.  Dark stone fruit.  Mint.  Heavily oiled leather.  Very faint peat, surprisingly enough.  Licorice.  Hoisin sauce.  Very savoury nose, all told.

Palate:  Chocolate.  A decent heft of spice.  Dried fruits.  Christmas cake.  Coffee.  Dark chocolate.  Quite figgy.  And very oily.  Licorice.  Orange.  Again savoury.  Nice smoky linger.

Thoughts:  Truly unique offering.  Another one of the malts responsible for pushing Laphroaig to the top of my favorite distilleries list.

*Thanks to the gent who shared this.  Your anonymity is safe here and your generosity is shouted from the rooftops.  Cheers!

 

 – Image & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 11:15 am
Apr 182017
 

Laphroaig Lore

48% abv

Score:  82/100

 

I love Laphroaig.  It was one of my first and truest whisky loves.  I like to think that no matter what missteps the brand may ever make (and there have been a few; I’m looking at you, Select) I will still be there waiting.

We weight these things, not by the failings, but by the successes, and there is simply no comparison to the heights reached by some of the Laphroaig I’ve drunk (25 year olds, 30 year olds, 40 year old, cask samples, single casks, etc).  So it’s with a somewhat forgiving heart I’m going to try to talk about Lore.  I heard a while back that this one was to be a replacement for the 18 year old.  That was whisky shop talk, but there may be some basis in truth.  After all, we’ve watched 18 go the way of the dodo, only to be replaced by a limited edition 15 year old, which also abra cadabra’d its ass out of here.  Either way, it’s a sad state of affairs when we see a beloved and mature classic with a respectable price point (18 years and only about $100 locally!) disappear in favor of a $200 NAS offering.  Ouch.

The point has been made, so let’s not belabor it.  How about the whisky in the jar?  How does Lore stack up to the rest of the Laphroaig range?  In short…pale, flat and uninspired.  It’s slightly unbalanced and lacking in the oooomph I’m looking for in Laphroaig.  I’d drink it, of course, but only on someone else’s dime.  Probably best to take a couple bottles of 10 or QC over this, if you want my two cents.

Nose:  Lime.  Warm rubber.  Shellfish.  Smoke and peat.  Eucalyptus.  Vanilla.  Surprisingly restrained.  Salt and pepper.  Licorice and tar.  Dry, faint Lapsang Souchong.  Watered down, maybe.  Too heavy on the rubber notes.  Like bicyle tires in the sun or new Wellies.  Very dry and…flat.

Palate:  So muted.  Better than Select, but by nickels and dimes, not dollars.  More peat, smoke, and licorice.  Dry smoke.  Earthy and herbal.  Some pepper and chilis.  Everything dull though.  Slightly chalky and minerally.  Some green candy notes.  Not a lot in the way of finish.

Thoughts:  We went from 18 to 15 to this?  Ouch.

 

– Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:02 pm
Mar 092017
 

Laphroaig Select

40% abv

Score:  78/100

 

Well, this is awkward.  Kinda feels like having to fire your wife.  Being hard on something you love is never fun.  Unfortunately there is a bit of an axe to grind here, so let’s do it and do it quick.  Like ripping off a Band-aid.  Maybe it will hurt less.

I’ve always held Port Ellen on a pedestal.  Right beneath my beloved PE is the stylized ‘A’ in the Celtic ring (yes, Ardbeg, of course).  Ardbeg likely ties with Bruichladdich, though not necessarily because their whiskies are on par.  I love both for different reasons.  So, let’s call the number two position a tie.  And number three with a bullet…Laphroaig.  This one has been creeping on Ardbeg lately.  It’s arguable Ardbeg produces great malts more consistently, but it’s also arguable that Laphroaig produced greater malts from time to time.  I’m sure mature stock and expressions with some older constituent casks contributes to that.

I tell you this so you understand how biased I am toward Laphroaig of late.  Imagine, then, my bewilderment at a malt like this: Laphroaig Select.  At its essence it really boils down to ‘why?’.  The brand has a flagship 10 year old (one of the best out there, I might add, in spite of its low abv) and a young fiery NAS expression that is beloved by most and, aside from the lack of age statement, ticks most other boxes for whisky lovers (non-chill-filtered, natural colored – I think?, and high strength).  So why…why then would they release a watered down, inferior, just-clearing-the-hurdles 40% NAS monstrosity like this?  It’s incomprehensible to me and most I’ve spoken to).

Over the last couple of months we’ve witnessed Quarter Cask jump from about $50 (as low as $40 in some places) up to $85.  The 10 y.o. is still creeping, but is still lower than the new QC pricing.  The ‘high end’ Laphroaig Lore crashed our shores at an even $200.  And now there are a handful of new Laphroaig NAS releases hitting the market (Four Oak, 1815 and I think there may be one or two more, though I could be mistaken).  At this point I’m left head-scratching.  Maybe I’m falling out of love here.

I’d love to see others weigh in on this one, though I’m pretty certain I have an idea what the comments section below will look like.

Nose:  Peat, of course.  Faint smoke (but everything is faint at this anemic abv).  Leather.  Wet dog.  Brown paper bags or slightly damp cardboard.  Vaguely farmy.  A touch of salt or brine.  Lime.  A little bit of dill.  Earthy notes, as we’d expect.  Everything muted.

Palate:  Thin and watery.  Dry smoke.  Lacking a lot of flavour.  Slightly weedy.  Earthy.  Olive brine.  Not a lot more.  Hello…finish…are you there?

Thoughts:  This…this is not the Laphroaig I love.

 

– Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:48 pm
Jan 222017
 

Laphroaig 25 y.o. Cask Strength (2008)img_4049

50.9% abv

Score:  91.5/100

 

No two ways about it.  I’ve been a pretty lucky soul.  This is another one of those spectacular drams I’ve been fortunate enough to try year upon year.  I think to date I’ve tried the ’08, ’09, ’11, ’13 and ’14 versions of this quarter century cask strengther, as well as the more restrained (though still lovely) 43%er that came years back.  All were great (even that latter lightweight).  Some were exceptional.

This was tasted as part of that recent G4 event I wrote up a couple weeks back.  In almost any other range this would have been the showstopper malt tp close it all down with.  In this case, however, it sat middle of the pack.  What I’m trying to say is maybe take that 91.5 with a grain of salt.  Tasted in a different range it may have notched an extra point or so.

Pretty obvious what you’re getting with a dram like this.  Old, faint peat and only hints of the smoke and iodine that so characterize younger Laphroaigs.  The fruits are emergent and the sweetness has been ratcheted up.  Oak is an outlier.  Kinda like an unpresuming frame around a gorgeous work of art.

Alright.  So, that’s a gem of an old Leapfrog.  Easy to share kind words, as one would likely suspect.  Up next on the radar: Select and Lore.  Sharpen your knives, guys and dolls.  Things are about to get ugly.

Nose:  Roman nougat candy.  Very soft peat and just whiffs of smoke.  Lime (both sweet and tart).  White pepper.  Notes of ripe melon.  Chewy candies.  Plenty of orange.  Soft chocolate.  Faint hints of rubber.  Anise.

Palate:  Juicy and mouthwatering arrival.  Very creamy and lush.  Licorice right off the bat.  Yeah, there a peaty smoky edge here, but not overly large.  Sour fruit.  Fresh cracked pepper.  Soft spice notes.  Anise or fennel.  And…yeah…more licorice.

Thoughts:  Top tier malt

*Thanks to the kind anonymous benefactor for this one.

 

 – Image & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:06 am
Jan 012017
 

G4.  The new world order.  Forget the G7.  For those truly interested in understanding the new shining path to global harmony in governance, concentration of intellectual and financial wealth and suppression of Irish attempts at gaining traction in the distillation race, look no further.  Illuminati-like in their spheres of silence (but also, probably, in their spheres of influence), this clandestine collective holds meetings in an underground lair, impervious to outsiders (and direct sunlight), but well-stocked in survivalist essentials (ahem…mature single malt, that is).

The Gang of Four, or G4, has maybe slightly different aspirations than the G7.  Well…most members, anyway.  One dodgy representative of a Celtic island nation may be more inclined to lead the next global revolution than others, but for the most part all intentions are not only benevolent, but altruistic.  All I’ll add to that is ‘never trust a Leprechaun’, especially one with a long memory and the means to an end.

Though the role of the G4 – much like the G7 – remains somewhat controversial and shrouded in secrecy, unsubstantiated rumours persist that member nations may be involved in directly or indirectly funding the IMF (International Malt Federation), subsidizing small revolutionary, tobacco-growing islands, and contributing to the preservation of cultural relevance in the land of the unicorn.  Further, and perhaps more conspiratorial in nature, it is said they are looking to initiate a global cultural renaissance centered around ritual consumption of the blood of Scotland.

The G4, in recent years, has become a slightly amorphous entity.  One ‘member nation’ transitioned its governing office to warmer western climes, so unfortunately now is rarely able to attend G4 meetings.  The remaining three entities have subsequently enacted a policy of inclusion, which allows for smaller developing nations to attend summits and share their voices, if not, in point of fact, paying in proper G4 dues.

The agenda for December’s meeting – as much as can be shared in the public sector anyway – was management of natural resources in the Hebrides.  Namely, decaying vegetative matter, barley crops and fresh water lochs.  Representation for this meeting was expanded to include subject matter experts from Scotland, the Ukraine and France, whose relevant experience in the field was deemed pertinent to the discussion at hand.  Perhaps it would be apropos to mention here that asset management in the Hebrides is of paramount importance to the continued existence of the G4.  In fact, several attendees happen to be lairds of parcels of fertile land in the vicinity of the Kildalton region.

The following ‘minutes’ were recorded during said December council meeting.  Portions have been excised, censored, redacted and sanitized for public consumption.  Notes are largely my own, with input, collusion and validation from G4 delegates.  Fault me for any notable shortcomings; credit them for honesty (to a fault) and artistic flair.  A note to attending delegates: feel free to share further thoughts below if you see fit, as I didn’t collect notes for all.

Thanks to host nations, Ireland and England (with a bit of Scotland) for procurement and dissemination of sample materials.

Laphroaig 10 y.o. (2008) 40% abv – Fruitier than the newer 10s.  Medicinal.  Iodine.  Citrus.  Orange.  Vanilla.  Salty.  Caramel.  Licorice.  Peat.  Oaky.  Salty.  Salt and pepper.  Industrial.

Laphroaig 15 y.o. 200th Anniversary (2015) 43% abv – Fruity.  Orange.  Doughy.  Peat.  Salty pastry.  Damp earth.  Green ju-jubes.  Chilis.  Peppers.  Licorice.  Tarry.  Oakier.  Sen sens.  Slightly bitter.  Medicinal.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 200th Anniversary (2015) 51.5% abv – More old school.  Farmy.  Cereal.  Peat and smoke.  Vanilla.  Dry smoke.  Black licorice.  Leather.  Orange.  Licorice on the palate.  Chilis.  Mint.  Black ju-jubes.  Grains.  Grassy.  Herbal.  Long finish.

Laphroaig 18 y.o. (2009) 48% abv – Fruity.  Orange.  Citrus.  Farmy and earthy.  Chocolate.  Anise.  Iodine.  Peat.  Oak.  Pepper.  Lime zest.

Laphroaig 25 y.o. (2008) 50.9% abv – Roman nougat.  Soft peat.  Lime.  Pepper.  Melon.  Chewy candies.  Orange.  Chocolate.  Rubber.  Licorice.  Juicy.  Mouthwatering.  Creamy.  Sour fruits.  Spice.  Anise.  Lots of licorice.

Laphroaig 30 y.o. (2007) 43% abv – A real fruit bomb.  Tropical.  Pineapple.  Latex.  Caramel.  Peat is very faint.  Red and orange ju-jubes.  Very sweet.  All fruits.  Faintest anise.  Chewy.  Mouthwatering.  Vanilla.  Sweet chewy fruits.   Chocolate (white and milk).

Laphroaig 40 y.o. (2001) 42.4% abv – Another fruit bomb.  Referred to as ‘Hiroshima of fruit bombs’.  Orange and tangerine.  Grilled pineapple.  Cherry.  Spice.  Everything is faint and very stunning.  Very dessert-like.  Fruit salad delivery.  Creamy.  More spice on the palate.  Custard.  Slightly oaky.  Peat.  Smoke.  Eucalyptus.  All are echoes.

Laphroaig 32 y.o. (2015) 46.6% abv – Massively fruity.  Jammy.  Cinnamon.  Tobacco.  Peat is lively for 32 years.  Earthy.  Licorice.  Oily.  Leathery.  Peat.  Grapefruit pith.  Spice-heavy.  Licorice on the palate too.  And cinnamon again.  Rubber and tar.

Laphroaig 27 y.o. (2007) 57.4% abv – A sherry bomb.  Orange and orange zest.  Jam.  Cherry.  Raspberry.  Chocolate.  Dark stone fruit.  Mint.  Heavily-oiled leather.  Very faint peat.  Licorice.  Hoisin.  Very savoury.  More chocolate on the palate.  Spice.  Dried fruit.  Christmas cake.  Coffee.  Dark chocolate.  Figgy.  Oily.  More licorice on the palate.

 

 – Images & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 11:20 am
Dec 272016
 

Laphroaig 32 y.o.img_4046

46.6% abv

Score:  91.5/100

 

A sherry-matured Leapfrog that landed in Calgary sometime in 2016 (though elsewhere in 2015, the year of the distillery’s bicentennial).  Before going any further…yes, this was hellishly expensive, and no…I did not buy a bottle for myself.  This one was tasted with the G4 (an infamous little conclave even more exclusive and secretive than the Illuminati, I hear) a few weeks back at an exceptional tasting which I am now only hours from sharing details about.

As to this one, well…you can’t honestly expect me to say bad things about a 32 year malt from one of my top three distilleries, can you?  Ain’t gonna happen.  This is an exceptional dram.  It’s the other kind of sweet this time.  Not the vanilla-rich, bourbon-delivered soft fruits we usually find in old Laphroaig, and that come from American oak, but the spicy, jammy, dark fruit sweetness from European sherry wood.  This is a different sort of look on Laphroaig, especially for this age.  (Though it doesn’t hold a candle to the viscous, syrupy 27 year old we’ll discuss in coming days)

While I’m sure opportunities to sample this one are few and far between, if the occasion does arise, don’t be too stingy to pay for the event or dram.  The whole bottle…well, that’s a different story.

Nose:  Massively fruity and jammy.  Rich in cinnamon and other baking spices.  Notes of tobacco.  The peat is vibrant and at the core of this one, somewhat surprising at 32 years.  Very earthy, by nature.  Some black licorice or anise.  Like oiled leather.

Palate:  More peat now.  And smoke.  Grapefruit pith (a favorite note).  Seems quite spice-heavy, without being top heavy.  Again some licorice.  Cinnamon.  Rubber notes and tar.  Long finish.  Gorgeous all the way through.

Thoughts:  Well…what can we say?  Amazing.  The only disappointments are the price tag, limited number of bottles and scarce opportunities to enjoy it.  But let’s be grateful we did.  (Should note:  I do generally prefer the more naked Laphroaigs)

*Thanks to a G4 member for letting this one happen.  Appreciate it.

 

 – Image & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:01 am
Dec 072016
 

Laphroaig 40 y.o.img_4047

42.4% abv

Score:  94.5/100

 

I owe a proper write-up on a recent experience I was fortunate enough to take part in.  A full-on top notch, knock your socks off kinda tasting, that is, held by and for a wee somewhat secretive conclave known as the Gang Of Four.  That piece will be done in coming days (as soon as I figure out the right angle to attack it from), but a couple of the malts warrant individual reviews.  And this is most definitely one of them.

Oh, man.  Laphroaig 40 year old.  One of the gents involved in the l’il collective for this once in a lifetime tasting referred to it as a bucket list malt.  Couldn’t agree more.  I recall a couple reviews over the years (Jim Murray and Serge Valentin, I believe) that mentioned the toss up between the 30 and 40 for the crown of ultimate Laphroaig.  Let me add my name to that list (albeit miles below, in terms of standing, fame and respectability).  It really is hard to choose, even when tasted head to head, as we did this night.  The 30 holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons, but this 40…well…words are sometimes elusive with these things.

It’s very possible there are a couple factors at play here that contribute to the stunning majesty and depth of sweet, fruity notes in this one.  First…it was made in 1960, a time when consistency was less a benchmark than quality.  Many moving pieces would have likely added to the complexity here, not the least of which would have included more old barrels to choose from, direct-fired stills, worm tub condensing, in situ malted barley and maturation in famed Warehouse #1.  Second…we’re likely dealing with a bit of Old Bottle Effect here (or OBE, in shorthand).  This was bottled more than 15 years ago.  No matter what anyone says, I firmly believe that time in the bottle does soften whisky.

Let me just say that in no uncertain terms this is one of life’s greatest whisky experiences.  The malt is beyond fantastic and acknowledgement of the moment one gets to drink it and all of the history that led to that is the stuff memories are made of.  Breathtaking dram, to say the least.

The full write-up will have more tasting notes (some from the others swedged in with mine), but these are mostly mine below.

Sincere thanks to the kindhearted soul who allowed us to taste this grail malt.  Unforgettable.  Beyond appreciated.

Nose:  An absolutely enormous fruitbomb.  Like fruit cocktail.  Specifically orange and tangerine.  Grilled pineapple, rich in caramelized sugars and syrup.  Sweet cherry notes.  Very, very dessert-like.  Soft and perfectly balanced spices.  Old books.  The peat is nothing more than a fleeting memory.  Smoke…barely.  Everything is faint, subtle…and stunning.

Palate:  Fruit salad immediately on arrival.  Soft and creamy.  Almost custard-like.  Beautiful spices.  Slightly oaky, but hey…this is a forty year old dram.  A little more peat and smoke on the palate than the nose would have us believe.  Eucalyptus.  Just a wee bit of fennel.  Again…all are more like echoes of the original resonance.

Thoughts:  Up until shaking hands with this stunning old gem I could unequivocally state that the 30 year old was the greatest Laphroaig I’d tried.  I think this pips it.  Barely, but yeah.

 

– Images & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:31 am
Nov 202016
 

Laphroaig 2004 Cask #45 Bottle Your Own20160925_110724

51% abv

Score:  91.5/100

 

Laphroaig runs some pretty damn cool visitor experiences for those that make the pilgrimage across the water to Islay.  As if you needed more motivation.  Even without upgrading to said tour experiences, the good people at the distillery will treat you like family.

In fact, I’ll go step further.  It’s arguable that one Islay distillery produces malts I like more, while another does things in a manner I respect more than any other distillery in the world.  Having said that…Laphroaig combines those two aspects into one big, beautiful, peaty coherent whole.  It’s hard not to love the green and white.

Two of the higher end experiences the distillery offers include the opportunity to sample from three pre-selected casks and bottle your own 250 ml bottle directly from the barrel, replete with cask char residue and all.  Now…if you’re a whisky geek and purist as I am (and many of us are), this is the ultimate in both dramming experiences and souvenir hoarding.  Couple that with a healthy dosing of peat juice along the three hour journey and man…I don’t know how else to sell it to you.

This malt was one of the three I tried at the distillery.  It was a 12 year old malt from a bourbon barrel.

I don’t review whiskies like this in order to aid in buying decisions (obviously), but in order to tell a story.  In this case, to tell you that a few of us went to peaty Neverland and had an incomparable experience.  You can do the same.  And if you do…it will be absolutely unforgettable.

Obviously I drank this on site, but sincere thanks to ‘the bearded one’, aka Danny, for the chance to enjoy this in more meditative environs.  Was nice to revisit and take some notes.

Nose:  Earthy dram, this.  Notes of tea.  Sweet but strong vanilla.  Mint Leaf candies.  Smoked seafood on the shell.  Very fresh eucalyptus.  A truly organic whisky.  Lime…and more lime.  Freshly baked scones.

Palate:  More lime here.  Smoke and peat, as we’d expect.  Medicinal (agin…as we’d expect).  Minty.  Very vibrant.  Ashy.  Smoky.  Salt licorice.  Rubber.

Thoughts:  A beautiful old school style Laphroaig.  We tried three, and all were interesting, but this one had the most harmonious nature about it.  Lovely stuff.

 

 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:13 pm