Google Laphroaig, six of them

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

November 19, 2015


Laphroaig, six of them

So a few Laphroaigs at random, both appropriately aged or sneakily NAS-ed, from various provenances. I’m sure you don’t need more literature, do you? Let’s start with the Adams family…

Laphroaig 'Brodir batch #002' (48%, OB, Port Wood Finish, +/-2015)

Laphroaig 'Brodir batch #002' (48%, OB, Port Wood Finish, +/-2015) Two stars NAS plus a Port finish, that sounds like a Barry Manilow – Justin Bieber duo. But you never know… Colour: salmony. Nose: well, not quite the utter disaster I was fearing. I don’t like it at all because of these feelings of, say strawberry-flavoured lapsang souchong, but I think I’ve encountered Port-finished Laphroaigs that have been even worse. The good news is that the strawberries and other berries from the Port tend to vanish. And yes, before you ask, I’m a sucker for great Port, just not in my whisky. Mouth: no way. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just wondering who needs this. Blood oranges, raspberries, wasabi, mustard, liquid smoke. Hey watch it, don’t throw up over your keyboard or over your brand new Samsung or iPad Air! Finish: medium, hesitating, uncertain. The aftertaste is a little nicer, not just because you know it’s over. Comments: a rather poor thing if you ask me. But remember, only one man’s opinion! Come on, Laphroaig! SGP:646 - 70 points.

We need compensation… Maybe this…

Laphroaig 18 yo (48%, OB, +/-2015)

Laphroaig 18 yo (48%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half I haven’t formally tasted the 18 since it came out in 2009, but I had liked it quite a lot at that time (WF 87). It was replacing the old 15, but it seems that it’s now replaced with the new 15. Go figure. Colour: gold. Nose: starts with some sawdust and vanilla, which is a little disconcerting, but everything is soon to fall into place. A mild smoke, some autumn leaves, some seawater, a little bacon, hessian, seaweed, pu-erh tea, humus… It’s not big, it’s even a little shy and fragile despite the rather high strength, but I do enjoy this delicate nose quite a lot. I find it classy. Mouth: oh very good, chiselled, complex, elegant… There’s a little newish oak again, like at first nosing, but these salty bacon and kippers, plus the smoked tea, plus the touches of tropical fruits that hint at the distillery’s more glorious ages are most appealing. The whole’s just a little simple. Finish: medium long, with ideas of mangos indeed. Comments: very very good, I think, just somewhat lacking inspiration, oomph, and complexity. As if some re-racking in newish bourbon oak had occurred at some point. Not too sure. SGP:456 - 84 points.

Oh well, while we’re having officials…

Laphroaig 32 yo (46.6%, OB, 5,880 bottles, 2015)

Laphroaig 32 yo (46.6%, OB, 5,880 bottles, 2015) Five stars All sherry matured, this one. There’s been some fantabulous all-sherry Laphroaigs in the past, let’s hope this newish baby will manage to hold a candle to its glorious predecessors. 1967/68 or 1974, anyone? Colour: dark gold. Much lighter than the official pictures suggested. Nose: ah, yes. New tyres and benzine, flints, fresh walnuts, a touch of black truffles (I know that suggests sulphur, but not quite), embrocations and tiger balm, menthol, rather very old Sauternes than oloroso, bicycle inner tube, a touch of raisins, a curious hint of rancio… And no obvious smokiness. Love this nose. Mouth: Laphroaig! A perfect phenolic maelstrom, complex, rich, yet very elegant… I’ve read lukewarm reviews, but I’m relieved, since I’m finding this pretty perfect. Medicinal as it should be, almondy, perfectly gassy (in a way), with the expected tropical fruits (maracuja) and these smoked apples that do not exist in real life, but are very Laphroaig. And here come the seashells, the oysters, the mint drops, our beloved whelks, tincture of iodine… Well, true Laphroaig. Love it, really, love it… Finish: the true level of a malt whisky is to be found in its finish, said a friend whose name escapes me. This finish is perfect. Comments: frankly, this is a relief. This baby’s almost worth its heavy price tag (around £1,000), and I find it very cool that they didn’t propose it in one of those very stupid and very useless decanters that can be seen elsewhere. SGP:456 - 92 points.

Now, perhaps a few indies for good measure?...

Laphroaig 1994/2015 (46%, Coopers Choice, 1st fill sherry, cask #3441, 690 bottles)

Laphroaig 1994/2015 (46%, Coopers Choice, 1st fill sherry, cask #3441, 690 bottles) Four stars From a butt according to the outturn. Colour: deep gold. Nose: hold on, this is pretty similar, we aren’t far from the official 32! That’s probably the sherry speaking, and it speaks well. Smoked raisins, seawater, damp hessian, a little mud, wet rocks, that famous walk on the beach at Machir bay… That’s all pretty perfect, if not really ‘explosive’. Mouth: classic and classy salty smoky slightly eucalyptusy Laphroaig, with this leafiness (apple peelings, fresh walnuts) and then more and more salt. I guess you could call it briny. There’s some lemon too, as expected. Finish: long, on iodine, oysters, and a little pipe tobacco. Remains relatively clean despite it being first fill sherry. Grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: impeccable sherried Laphroaig that tends to become just a little too dry. Just a little – and just one man’s opinion. SGP:457 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 12 yo 2002/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, cask #11511, 332 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2002/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, cask #11511, 332 bottles) Four stars and a half This is young, this should be fresh. Colour: gold. Nose: yes it’s fresh, lively, without too much raisiny sherry, and with a lot of sea air, seashells, seaweed, and, well, anything from the sea. Some fresh almonds too, which I always find perfect. A little rubber, perhaps, in a good way, putty, fresh paint… It’s a rather kilny young Laphroaig.  No water needed, I think. Mouth: yess! Perfect arrival, whistle-clean but with an added roundness from the sherry, more almonds, more seawater, and only a moderate medicinal side. I find this absolutely excellent, and more or less in the style of the official 10 yo CS. Have to try newer batches of that one, by the way. With water (you see, procedures…): there, bandages, damp wool, barley water, liquid smoke… All very perfect. Finish: long, salty, smoky, extremely Laphroaig. Comments: that the indies now always beat the officials of similar ages is a bit troubling, isn’t it. This was just another example. Very well done, Hunter Laing! SGP:357 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 16 yo 1998/2014 (49.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, for HNWS, refill hogshead, cask # DL10579, 300 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: the sharpest, the cleanest, the most on iodine, salted almonds, and wet wool of them all. Olives. In short, the wildest and the most ‘natural’. Little oak influence. Mouth: well defined, precise, focussed, ultra-clean, chiselled, perfect. Salt, lemon, one small slice of pineapple, and a few drops of white Jamaican rum and artisan mezcal. Meta-spirit, in other words. Why the owners can’t come up with such bottlings still baffles me. Maybe are they too busy talking about oak and wine? Finish: long, zingy, ultra-clean, perfect. Refill’s the king, first fill’s the jester. Comments: it’s to be wondered why the distillers have so little faith in their distillates, and are so busy with stupid oak and wines. A kind of disease? A lack of self-confidence? Or do they own the forests? SGP:357 - 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Laphroaig I've tasted so far

(thank you Patrick!)







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