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

  25 Responses to “Laphroaig Lore Review”

  1. What, nothing on this one? Pretty disappointing.

    I have to commend Curt on this review, because its honesty gives us somewhere to start.

    “We went from 18 to 15 to this?”

    Yes, yes we did, but wasn’t it inevitable?

    Is this in anyway related to the idea that hiding what (little) production resources sometimes go into a new release, and talking the thing up to high heaven, isn’t a remedy for the result – that whiskies are, rather predictably, the sum of their parts with those parts both known and viewed in context? Maybe, but only for the people smart enough to see/know that.

    Anyway, this is “good enough” for the rest, those who want to believe, regardless of further evidence, that they’re living in whisky’s “Golden Age” if they spend a lot of gold – you just can’t tell them any different, and most of the older/different era stuff that would demonstrate the difference to them is now (in)conveniently priced beyond their grasp anyway. So, for them… another triumph for Laphroaig! Another triumph for… anybody/everybody! It’s the best of all possible worlds (outside, of course, of the context of other possible worlds)!

    And keep going folks, faster if possible; keep richly rewarding mediocrity (at most); you’ll wreck whisky yet and then you can go (back) to vodka. Either the stupidity bubble will burst or it won’t – but I want to watch either way.

    As for the many people who WERE smarter than to really believe the bullshit, well, many of them helped to bring about the current state of affairs too through their collusion and/or silence… but whatchagonnado? All those distilleries you once respected? Well, you’ll lose respect for many of them, largely because you didn’t demand that they respect YOUR intelligence, and because they then produced accordingly for the mushroom crowd as a result. Oh well… and Serge (God still bless him), Broom and MacLean will drink whatever they drink while saying “it’s no big deal in the larger scheme of things” because, to them, it isn’t a big deal and never was. What, they were never consumers like many of you? No shit, but I really wouldn’t want to wake anybody up here. I’ve probably gone too far already.

    “The Richest of the Rich”? $199.90? Yep… that’s pretty rich alright…. I’m still laughing! Ever wonder why Lore was the bad guy and Data was the good guy? Maybe it’s clearer now. But make no mistake: with the industry constantly being rewarded for its bullshit and shifting standards, Lore is only the precursor to some very overpriced crapsicle that Dr. Lumsden will someday put on HIS drawing board at Ardbeg Labs AG/Inc. – with the experienced marketing department, as well versed in modern manure as the good doctor himself, all ready to go – and then we’ll see what happens on THAT day. There might be lamentations, and I think it’s all as inevitable as this stuff is. We’ll see.

    I do have a serious idea for a thread topic though: could we have a deconstruction of the word “magic” as it applied to whisky along the same lines as we had one about “industry”?

    Sláinte!

    • Lore wasn’t a bad guy… he just felt neglected by his father and was acting out.

      But I love the analogy! It’s almost like during the last whisky glut the folks at Star Trek PREDICTED today’s climate.

      건배 !

      • Lore was a whiney, pain in the ass bitch, and apparently, so is this whisky. Wow, Curt! You review Stitchell and Lore back-to-back!?!?! Expensive mediocre whiskies.

    • I’ve seen mediocre reviews for this everywhere, and certainly nobody citing Lore as a basis for proclaiming the dawn of a new golden age.

      • Fair enough, but what I’m talking about isn’t exactly the dawn of a Golden Age in this case; it’s that this stuff is demographically aimed at people who think that they’re already now living in one – whatever the industry makes and however it’s priced is just fine with them, because things just keep getting better and better anyway – and because they’re not being brainwashed; whisky and physics are being reinvented by all the doctors of whisky, and just FOR them.

        For these folks, the dawn of the new Golden Age probably wasn’t this stuff; it was probably, yes, QC, Uigeadail and A’Bunadh – and I probably could have helped with the effort by pouring them some Glenlivet Triumph after making it NAS by ripping the label off. Remember: the new math is that removing or obscuring information somehow makes it irrelevant to the finished product. Remove the odometer from a used car and you’ve got a new car; it’s the reason people like Driscoll would be just as happy selling cars to NAS defenders.

        Fair enough, too, that maybe some people ARE waking up and not buying it this time.

        And, importantly, fair enough to all those who say that an age statement WOULDN’T make this taste any better. Very true, but if the marketing climate wasn’t what it currently is, with ages hidden behind nonsense labels and people lapping up both the crazy reasoning and pricing, WOULD this be constituted as it currently is and/or priced at anything like $200?

        “But they could never SELL this at $200 if they called it a 7 and provided no other information!!!” goes up the hue and cry from the people who worry more about the poor producers than themselves as consumers (while ignoring that producers currently “have their hands tied” by regulations that they have no interest in reforming anyway).

        To which my answer is, “yeah, so? – you want another one like this to help out the poor producers? Why don’t you just write them a cheque, clear your conscience over their economic plight, and then try to get better products at more reasonable price levels?”.

        But it’s really hard to help people when even they don’t know what side they’re on.

        Sláinte!

        • “Why don’t you just write them a cheque, clear your conscience over their economic plight, and then try to get better products at more reasonable price levels?”

          I got a bit of a chuckle out of this. It might seem some people are more concerned about brand loyalty than the actual product they are consuming. What an odd approach to life.

          I’m fiercely loyal to many things, brands included among them. But mama didn’t raise a fool and I’m a bit of a cranky old bugger to boot. I’ll drop just about anything like a hot potato if they disappoint me. Whisky brands can readily count themselves among that group of having to prove themselves each and every time. I’m not suggesting if I try a new expression and I don’t like it I’ll never buy from them again. More it’s if your product is consistent and I can obtain it reasonably then I’ll return to it time and again.

          We’re in such an odd point in history where hype via social media drives so very much. The interwebs and social media can be such useful tools but mostly of late they seem to be making mostly just tools out of people.

          • “The interwebs and social media can be such useful tools but mostly of late they seem to be making mostly just tools out of people.”

            Quite right. In fact, If I didn’t use social media like this site and Connosr and Ralfy, my interest in spirits in general and whisky in particular would never have taken root and I’d have a few dusty gifts in my cabinet and nothing else. I’d save countless of hours in my week, and I would remain a non-drinker.

          • Not to mention all the money you would save which could go towards putting your kids through medical school, David.

          • Chris,

            I don’t think my kids are going to medical school, but if they want to, and they can get in, I’ll just keep working…

            If I had chosen something other than Palliative care, I could have both “all things whisky” and kids in school…..

  2. Hi there,

    I am not sure if I have mentioned this before
    https://www.beveragemedia.com/2016/10/19/scotch-whisky-at-a-crossroads/
    …all of our favourite whisky heros say what they are supposed to say. But the whole feature left me at a loss which crossroads are meant. A crossroad where the industry has to chose between single malt and blends???

    Anyway, your comment reminded me of this thing I had only read yesterday Jeff. It describes some of the things we already know about the whisky industry’s problems between the lines.
    You can find the Laphroaig dilemma or strategy in there.
    There are only two Laphroaigs with age statement the 10yo and the 25yo. Everything else is NAS-ty now that the anniversary is over.
    And it is not helpful at all if we are told that Lore contains 21yo Laphroaig… is it one cask or ten or just a thimble?
    And it is fearfully true that many of the newer offering from this distillery do not deliver what you expect when you hear that it is Laphroaig. Many OB bottlings are many things but not Laphroaigs imo.
    But they are expensive. And they are many. I doubt that the way they go about real or imagined shortages is a good strategy.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • That link is really good – I read the stuff from Lumsden and I could almost hear the chalk scratching on the board – hilarious!

      And I guess that it’s good to know that we’re NOT going to run out of whisky – it’s only numbers that are really going to be in shorter supply! The future looks bright, even if industry reps with degrees still don’t.

      But it’s just the Emperor’s New Clothes, except that it’s the Emperor’s New Whisky. People will lie about physics and quality (or just change them) to themselves and to others as long as they can – it’s much easier than admitting that you’re conning yourself, conning other people or allowing yourself to be conned – and, removed from any and all other context, Lore probably IS the best Laphroaig ever made. And you can quote me on that.

      Sláinte!

  3. Hi there,

    just love the first sentence: In an age where single malts are blighted by ‘premiumisation’ – where’s the market for expensive blends these days?

    http://malt-review.com/2017/04/17/ballantines-30-year-old/

    It goes on: You’d be looking to pay over £250 a bottle for the one I’ve got today – Ballantine’s 30 Year Old – which I suppose for a 30-year-old whisky isn’t all that much in the current climate. But if you’ve got that much money, and presumably you’re a bit of a whisky geek, then would you not be more likely to purchase single malt whisky, or single casks even? Perhaps, on the whole, are expensive blends still the provenance of wealthy, but more casual drinkers? That would explain why you see them mostly cluttering up glass cabinets at airports at £500 a pop.

    And the final question I agree with totally: But that said, I still don’t know: who buys this stuff?

    Is that the crossroads mentioned in the feature above? The choice between too expensive single malts and too expensive blends? A conundrum a rational whisky buyer wouldn’t get him or herself into as it is like the choice between the plague or cholera.
    Would the whisky industry keep rare stocks of really old malts to decide whether to sell it as luxury malt or luxury blend? Made over-expensive by premiumisation in either case?
    It’s not about the money money money, Forget about the Price Tag, Ain’t about the (ha) Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching Ain’t about the (yeah) Ba-Bling, Ba-Bling… says one Jessie J.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • Now we’re WAY deep in the rabbit hole here… but, in the ultimate endgame, the choice between old blends and old single malts will be made FOR you by economic elimination: the market for old blends (or blends in general) will be CREATED by the hyper-inflated market for old(er) single malts. If you think that £250 is a lot for an old blend, the industry probably has some plans for current single malts that many might equate, in terms of personal comfort, with the recipe for Soylent Green. In terms of economics, it’s a no-brainer for the industry: blends are just cheaper to produce, so push the punters toward blends as quickly as possible. I’m not sure, sometimes, if the literary inspiration for this is really Harrison or Orwell. Who buys this stuff? Check the mirror in a few years.

      Now, you might well NOT buy into it, or drink the Kool-aid, or buy the Soylent Green, but you’ve then taken yourself out of the market and the industry no longer cares about you – if it can find a replacement for you at the checkout.

      Sláinte!

  4. Hi there,

    do we see a movement? At least there seem to be more critical thoughts on the subject.
    https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/the-debate/13439/can-single-malt-whiskies-be-too-young/?

    “My fear is a return to the days when NAS only meant young whisky, and I believe this is where we are headed.”

    As I have stated many times before: There is very little NAS whisky which consists only of young casks under 10 years of age. That is why I think NAS whiskies are a double deceit.
    Young stuff prepped up to make it palatable at all, old stuff watered down by undermatured whisky defining the price point.

    But there is the question of age-drift in NAS offerings which probably are more than “those dark rumours of ‘age drift’ among NAS whiskies”. Once a brand name is established like malt xyz “Traditional” there is no way of knowing what happens to the older components in the vatting over time.
    I doubt that their share grows over time.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • Yep. I know I’m repeating myself from previous conversations (does anyone NOT do that?), but I think the “mystery meat” age-drift concern is one of the big ones against NAS. If I take spin on an NAS, like it, and decide to buy another, who knows if it’ll really be similar again?

      The same can be said for age-stated malts, but at least there you have one big constraint that the producer has to operate within.

    • There are some interesting points made, and it’s worth reading, but as with the similar “debate” piece over age statements, I kind of look askance at these things where the industry supposedly “argues” with itself because they never declare a winner and the purpose of the whole exercise seems to be to “legitimize” industry defenses where I simply don’t find them. The point seems to be to try to establish that there IS a debate, always with no right answers, rather than to try to come TO any answers about the question.

      But, even so, the writer trips himself up in the last paragraph:

      “In today’s debate, as Keeble rightly says, there are no right answers – it’s all a matter of taste. But with whisky drinkers ever more discerning, immature malts won’t last long. Will they?”

      If there are no right answers, and so one can’t say single malt whiskies can be “too young”, how can an immature malt be defined by discerning whisky drinkers when, apparently, not even industry experts can do this? How can there be such a thing as an immature malt at all… and, if they exist, are they only for the undiscerning?”

      Sláinte!

  5. Hi there,

    I think it is all about age that matters. Or better about peer groups of people or whisky generations.

    Does the sentence “Without sherry, its not The Macallan” ring a bell with people who started their whisky journey later than 2005?
    To me and my peer group with our “intemperate and ill-informed views” “who have been in the category for a short amount of time, with not much understanding of how the whisky industry works” it does, we self-declared experts know that sentence and have been in the middle of the debate and decline of a once big whisky.
    http://forum.whiskymag.com/viewtopic.php?t=2134
    I hope you don’t mind that link but this Michael Jackson quote and the debate in this forum is whisky history.
    The re-educated und newly formed generations of connoisseurs in their peer groups who came to whisky after 2005 have problems to understand what it is all about because for many of them it is hard to appreciate Macallan old style. For once it is hard to find and secondly it is hard to pay for.

    So in a way the answer is that there is a different answer for every whisky generation. Me and many more of us posting here have seen the Golden Age of whisky between 2000 and 2010. Never again will we see such breadth and depth of whisky offerings in such affordable price brackets like we did then.

    There used to be “Time is the master of perfection” written on the door of Glenlivet’s warehouse no. 1. I wonder it still is there. If it is it is just another reminiscence of times gone bye for some of us. To others it well could be just a meaningless sentence on a old door.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • I’d certainly agree that people’s experience of whisky and its market is contextual, and so could also be seen as generational – and as generations change, and the market changes, experiences will change with them while products will also change as producers adapt to new realities.

      I think one of the challenges of our times could be a loss of faith that producers are so much adapting to new realities as creating new realities.

      We’re told, on many fronts and in many ways, that, “this or that is gone forever” and that, in many instances, it just “has to be this way” as if it all reflects some physical necessity and never a producer choice (the familiar “our hands are tied”). We then reflect on crazy pricing, but many conclude that there’s nothing that really “drives” it at current levels in terms of production costs and are left with the observation that prices rise “because they can”.

      I know the whole thing is profit motivated and, so far, largely price supported by consumers, but there are limits to everything, even consumer gullibility. Looking at the products the industry is choosing, not being forced, to pump out, quality, value and even product information and respect for consumer intelligence are on the overall decline while the covering narrative is just that none of it’s really the case while all the promises of reinvention/innovation and the direct suspension/alteration of physical laws and processes just haven’t rung true. Get on the whisky bus tomorrow and you won’t, by definition, see the trending immediately; stay on it for five years and you will.

      And the decline, in terms of personal, even generational, experience is becoming much more tangible than the covering narrative – and there’s going to be a tipping point for that. The industry might, in fact, sometimes seem to be brazenly rushing TOWARD that tipping point JUST to find out where in is and so it can plan accordingly – “Just how dumb are they? We need to find out.”

      The same people, both inside the industry and out, who say “it just has to be this way” will also, in other contexts, tell you “this can’t go on forever” – so whatever “necessities” drive things now they, apparently, AREN’T going to drive things later – and the change is going to come when all the greed and the bullshit drive enough people away from whisky, either partly or altogether.

      And, like the example provided here in microcosm by Lore, it’s inevitable, because the industry will simply increase the greed and bullshit until it happens.

      It’s the reason that Dr. Lumsden’s chalk is scratching even now; if it can happen at Laphroaig, it can, and will, happen everywhere – until people say no.

      As it is inevitable anyway, should consumers say no now, or wait another five years?

      Sláinte!

  6. Hi there,

    innovation premiumisation super-premium….

    Happy America! Edrington is coming.

    https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2017/04/edrington-moves-innovation-activity-to-us/

    According to Diving for Pearls Edrington Group is the prime mover of prices — I think not only in the USA.

    So hopefully all this innovation stays where they concot it in the future.

    There was a time when people thought whisky was made to be enjoyed and drunk. My generation did.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

  7. Hi there,

    not mine but in the spirit of things…
    http://www.bestshotwhiskyreviews.com/2017/04/laphroaig-lore-review.html
    Greetings
    kallaskander

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