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