Time to revisit an old favorite. Coming back to this one feels just as comforting and welcome as picking up the phone and talking to an old friend I haven’t seen in years. Nothing but good memories, nostalgic reflections and the pleasure of returning to something well-loved.
I recently had a chat with a friend on Islay and mentioned I had had to postpone this year’s trip out to my Hebridean home away from home. He struck a chord when he said “you just need to stick your nose in a glass and it will bring you to Islay.” If you’ve ever visited the island you’ll feel the truth in this sentiment. And more than likely feel the same sense of longing to be back that plagues me between trips over.
But enough of that romantic drivel for now. Let’s just be grateful to check out the new(ish) Laphroaig 18. This is the white-tinned one; no longer the dark green packaging. The true question at heart is whether or not the whisky itself has changed in parallel with the aesthetic rebranding. A collective (and cultivated) cynicism has us somewhat fearful of changes to these old favorites, of which we are fiercely protective. This cynicism, unfortunately, is firmly rooted in historical precedent in this, the age of declining stocks (or so we’re told) and soaring prices. But optimism has its place too, so let’s nae get bogged down in the dirges. Fingers crossed. Hoping for the best. And…
…amply rewarded! Whew.
Nose: A squeeze of lime. Smoke, but from a distance. Peat, but faded. A hint of anise. Oysters on the shell. Coastal air and seaspray. A touch of vanilla. Some orange oil. Keylime pie, pastry and all. A dusting of dry pepper. And a sweet, overarching candy note.
Palate: Orange again. Or rather, orange rind. Earthy peat. Mild black licorice. Flinty notes. Smoke and ash. Solid oaky backbone without being heavy-handed. A little grapefruit pith. Salt water. A nice juicy, plummy note at the end.
Thoughts: Just as lovely as I recall. Still a whisky built on smoked fruit and subtleties. The rebranding seems nothing more than aesthetic fiddling. Relieved to find this is the same ol’ balancing act of peat and sweet. Beautiful.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt