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
Oct 092016
 

Laphroaig 10 y.o. Cask Strength Batch 00806-lap-00-img_3798

59.2% abv

Score:  91/100

 

Finally.  A long awaited return to a range I fell in love with years ago.  I wrote up Batch 001 and 002 here on the site in early days – and have a bottle of Batch 003 in the archive – but sadly I’ve not been near another one these releases since.  Wait…notes say I tried Batch 004 at some point too.  Unfortunately they are, for inexplicable reasons, not available in Canada no matter how much we plead.  And trust me…I have taken this to Beam Suntory on more than one occasion.

A recent trip to Islay was the perfect opportunity to finally scoop another bottle of this young bog beastie.  Actually, between the four of us that went over, we picked up four bottles of it.  Only one now remains intact (now secure in the archive a chez moi).  After sipping it in one of the island’s pubs, we immediately bought a bottle for evening dramming in Bowmore.  The other two bottles have been generously shared amongst 50 or so good people.  Just the way malts were meant to be treated.

I remember loving these releases, but I don’t recall such harmonious sweet and smoky balance.  Still retains the feist of young Laphroaig, redolent of smoke, peat, earth and medicine, while bringing syrupy sweet candy fruitiness.  Absolutely spot on whisky making.  Every peathead deserves the opportunity to try this one.  Find it…buy it…share it.

Nose:  Wow.  Medicinal AND fruity.  Much deeper threads of jammy fruit than I’d ever expect in a young Laphroaig.  Lemon and lime.  Mint Leaves candy or eucalyptus.  Dry smoke and earthy undertones.  Cocoa powder (dry and drier).  Maybe even chocolate.  This even SMELLS like a thick drink.  Ashy.  Iodine.

Palate:  Unreal delivery.  Sweet, syrupy, rich and fruity.  And a peated hammer to the teeth.  Lots of smoke.  And sooty, char notes.  Lovely.  Almost burnt fruit skins.  Jammy.  Like licking the ashtray at the end of a kitchen party.  Flinty and redolent of lapsang souchong tea.  A finish that seems endless.

Thoughts:  Love this dram.  Not for everyone, but those who love it will truly cherish it.

 

 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 4:37 pm
May 232016
 

Laphroaig 15 y.o. 200th AnniversaryIMG_1406

43% abv

Score:  90/100

 

While the old Laphroaig 15 always seemed to take such a drubbing in its day, it’s quite interesting to see the esteem in which it is held today.  Be it a rose-colored glasses scenario or a don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-’til-it’s-gone sort of thing, either way, we’ve seen quite an about face in terms of how that malt is revered.

When it was revealed that Laphroaig would ring in its 200th anniversary with a re-release of the 15 year old a collective cheer resonated throughout the whisky world.  Unfortunately that news was sort of shackled to the revelation that we’d be waving goodbye to the beloved 18 year old.  To make matters worse it came to light that the 15 too would only be available for a short while and in limited quantity (72,000, I believe).  It would seem we’re destined to have nothing consistent in the Laphroaig age-stated range beyond a 10 year old.  Truly an unfortunate situation, as Laphroaig is a malt that tends to mature very well.

I haven’t been able to try the two 15s (older and newer) side by side as yet, but I can say that the differences are both unquestionably perceptible and not at all a bad thing.  Both malts are surprisingly gentle and subtle, but the newer expression bears bigger smoke and less soft fruit.  While certainly no new school phenol bomb, this 200th anniversary edition is rather reminiscent of older Laphroaig expressions (read: pre-market explosion releases arguably harbouring older casks in the vattings).  And while less fruity than the earlier runs, this one does bring a wealth of sweetness not seen in contemporary Laphroaig (excepting the stunning 2015 Cairdeas).

Personally, I think I prefer the earlier editions for their subtleties and complexities, but this one really is a beauty.  Glad I grabbed a couple when the opportunity was available.

Nose:  Very vibrant; moreso than I’d expected from this low of an abv.  Soft fruits, earthy peat and a clean breath of eucalyptus.  Green mint leaf candies.  Lime and melon.  Maybe a little grapefruit.  Smells like rain on the beach.  Medicinal and notes of damp paper.  Definitely more assertive than the old 15.

Palate:  Much bigger here.  Bombastic smoke.  Tar.  Charred seafood.  Lime juice.  Toasted marshmallow.  More citrus zest.  A touch of fennel.  Mineral and medicinal notes.  Drinks a little bigger than the rather anemic 43% would suggest, fortunately.  Some candy sweet notes.  Vanilla and peat.

Thoughts:  Great whisky.  Laphroaig killed it this year with their two bicentennial releases, though the Cairdeas definitely pips this one.  Would have been a knockout at cask strength.

 

 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:19 am