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