Apr 302015

Laphroaig 18 (2014)047

48% abv

Score:  91/100


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

 Posted by at 11:53 am

  21 Responses to “Laphroaig 18 (2014) Review”

  1. Great stuff, an all-time favourite. I did like the green packaging though. I have a bottle of the white tube version and I cannot detect any noticeable difference. I usually pick up a couple whenever I’m in Oregon where I can get two for the price of one here in BC. Nice review, Curt.

    • Yeah, I just found another bottle of the green one. Have three or four here now.

      Thanks for the kind words, mate.

  2. Nice review, but isn’t this being discontinued (we hardly knew ye!) in favour of the new 15? Any thoughts?

    • Not sure. I’ve heard rumblings, but put no stock in it until it is official. Most reliable info I’ve heard is that the new 15 is limited, not a return. We’ll see. There’s room for both, methinks.

  3. this is such a classic! The branding just looks so sophisticated and the whisky easily matches it. the SAQ Signature has quite a few of the older green version (which I haven’t tried), but it’s somewhere between $150-170 so nah…. You must be excited the 15 is making a return – hopefully to Calgary as well.

  4. Hi there,

    buy as long as you can.

    The 18 replaced the old 15yo not too long ago. Then they took the 18yo from the market without notice here in Germany and other countries.

    It is told that one Laphroaig brand ambassadors said during a tasting that by 2016 the 18yo will be phased out completely. No successor mentioned.

    The 15yo that is now to be found is a limited edition for the bi-century of the distillery this year. 72000 bottles is all there is.

    Plans for the anniversary year talk of a new 25yo, the 15yo, a cask strength version, a 32yo and Cairdas bottling for all the world – afair.


    • That seems to be confirmed here by a brand ambassador – http://wordsofwhisky.com/laphroaig-18-phased-years-end-2016/

      • Hi there,

        so it is two ambassadors on two continents saying the 18yo will go.

        That pious wish that the replacement for the 18yo should not be NAS reminds me
        of what a Pernod Ricard rep said when somebody complained to him that the
        Glenlivet Archive 21yo was to go.

        He said “Why, the 25yo is so much better!”

        He did not mention that the 25yo is twice the price of the 21yo or more by now.

        So is the new Laphroaig 25yo the replacement of the 18yo?


        • Thanks for the ‘heads up’. Time to shelve a couple more, I guess. This is one of my favorite higher-end-yet-still-affordable Islay malts. Would like to be able to drink this for many years to come.

          Sad to hear they’re making a decision like this.

          • Hi there,

            I thaught that Beam was on a good way with many of their whiskies and one reason was the Laphroaig 18yo the Quarter Cask and some other improvements they made with their Scotch brands.

            When they bought Cooley in Ireland I thaught somebody is trying to make Beam too big to swollow or else to make it a big bite which it was at 16 billion $.

            But I think I have to revise my good opinion since the schemes of Beam – Suntory come into the open more and more.

            Quality it seems is more and more a matter of less concern with Beam – Suntory …

            and they have taken away the age statement from the Knob Creek 9yo bourbon, too but after making is NAS they say it is the same whisky as before.

            So why bother with the label change? Can only be to make the change of content of the bottles more inconspicious I think.


    • Thanks for the status kallaskander – (although I am late on the news) I was hoping I’d find out what is going on with the 18… I’m in Pennsylvania, USA, and the 18 has been in our PALCB stores for quite a while – always available – a staple – and inexpensive. I called it the best deal in PA with prices that started at $70 and increased slightly to $80 today (not counting the frequent $5 off sales). Anyway, the 18 went into closeout status a couple months ago – had no idea why given single malts come and go in the PA stores.
      This is a tough one for someone with a $125 limit. Many times I stated the 18 is the best single malt I know of. Only 4 bottles left in my county – there will be less tomorrow.

  5. A friend of mine is going to Calgary in a couple of weeks and I thought I’d get him to pick up a couple of Laphroaig 18s and a few others on my wish list. I checked out KWM’s website to see what they had in stock and was surprised to see prices that are distressingly close to the rip off prices here in BC. Is there a reason for the big price hikes in Alberta, and particularly at KWM?

    • Hey, Chris. Hadn’t noticed. I found an older one (green tin) a few months back for $90. I think I have three or four shelved right now so haven’t actively watched prices. Having said that, I checked KWM today and it is $110. Seems like a drastic increase, granted, but all of the retailers simply keep saying that it is a sign of the times and often tied to the lousy state of the dollar.

      I guess my only advice is to take solace in the fact that $110 is still a fair price for an 18 year old malt in this day and age, especially Laphroaig, which has been VERY consistent (IMHO).


  6. Hmm. Is there more than one price list? I don’t see Laph 18 even listed. What I do see is standard stuff like Dalmore 12 at $80, Glendronach 12 at $76, Farclas 12 at $68, Lag 16 at $115, Laphroaig 10 at,$70, Triple Wood at $96, Mac Amber at $84,Tal 10 at $95, and most surprising of all; Tal Storm at $105. Presumably GST is added as well. We are actually paying less in Rippish Columbia for many of these, and that is what is so surprising. Things appear to be changing in Alberta.

  7. Laphroaig 18 is what I have in my sights to celebrate an upcoming life milestone. I wish I’d nabbed a few for $75 (yes, American) when they were spilling off the shelves at Binny’s a couple years ago, but I think the $100 price at a different local retailer is still worth it—especially for a splurge bottle from good ol’ Laphroaig.

    I don’t know if it’s the super-old green or the kinda-old white, but it sounds like there’s no big difference. (And why would there be, anyway? I think people LOOK for differences when labels change, but if anything, I would think producers are more likely to focus on consistency during a label change than they are during the normal course of batching a series of products under the same unchanged label. Just a hunch.)

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>