Google Laphroaig, perhaps a crescendo

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

April 4, 2017


Laphroaig, perhaps a crescendo

A classic session, with OBs and IBs, and young ones and old ones alike. We’ll see what happens…

Laphroaig ‘Lore’ (48%, OB, +/-2016)

Laphroaig ‘Lore’ (48%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars and a half Some NAS Laphroaig with a story, at +/-100€ a skittle. As unnecessary as some think? Let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: easy, rounded, vanilla-ed, sligthly almondy, moderately smoky, and mildly citrusy. It won’t do any harm, as it appears. Mouth: a very oily mouth feel, with some wood ashes as well as quite a lot of vanilla. Some kind of rounded peat smoke, I’d say, but this very elementary combo works pretty well, in no small part because there’s more and more brine coming through. Gets then smokier and smokier, and to tell you the truth, all this smoke tends to become a little stuffy. Finish: long, very ashy and smoky. Is there only smoke in life? Some lemon in the aftertaste. And, perhaps, kippers. And certainly quite some wood. Comments: a smoke bomb that’s a little boring and that may lack ‘polishing’. Feels a little engineered. SGP:357 - 79 points.

Some said the slightly sad Lore contains some Quarter Cask. Only one way to find out…

Laphroaig ‘Quarter Cask’ (48%, OB, +/-2016)

Laphroaig ‘Quarter Cask’ (48%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars and a half I have to say I really liked this one last time I formally tried it, but that was in 2007 (WF 87). Colour: pale gold. Nose: yes, surely. It’ much purer than the Lore, better chiselled, fresher, with very nice whiffs of lemongrass and garden bonfire, herbs, kelp, beach sand, and all that. Doesn’t kick you, but it’s also much less, ach, err, say ‘vulgar’ than the Lore. Mouth: oh yes, this is so much better! Some clean lemony smoke, some brine, then some artisan lemonade, soft brine, one green olive (always a hit in the house), and a growing ashy side that would come with oak pepper. I mean, a pepperiness that should come from the oak. Finish: rather long, slightly Tabasco-ish, with a touch of eucalyptus and mint. Comments: didn’t it become spicier and oakier over time? Nah, I think it’s very good Laphroaig despite the oak that’s just a little too obvious for me. SGP:457 - 84 points.

Laphroaig 10 yo ‘Original Cask Strength Batch 6’ (58%, OB, 2014)

Laphroaig 10 yo ‘Original Cask Strength Batch 6’ (58%, OB, 2014) Four stars I’ve been very lazy with my 10 CSs, I’m sure I’ve missed many batches, and I know I’ll never catch up. But should I care? What’s sure is that I’ll always remember the older 1l bottles for duty free shops (not the useless travel retail outlets). Eternal whisky glories! Colour: gold. Nose: wow. And I mean, wow. This is Jamaican rum. Black olive cake and smoked balsamic vinegar. Does it really come from the distillery that made Lore? With water: yeah yeah yeah, that thing that we used to find in older Laphroaigs, smoked almond oil or something… Mouth (neat): fantastic arrival, violent and brutal, almost sadistic. Massive amounts of smoke and ashes! Leaves you speechless (who said great news, who?) With water: great. Unripe mangos, smoke, kippers, lapsang souchong, and a dry smokiness that tends to become a little too dominant, perhaps. Finish: long, dry, very ashy. Comments: perhaps a little difficult at times, but nothing frightens us. Probably not as great as earlier batches, but we keep flying pretty high. SGP:457 - 87 points.

Let’s turn to the IBs…

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2014 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, refill sherry butt, Cask #700355, 728 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2014 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, refill sherry butt, Cask #700355, 728 bottles) Five stars That’s right, more than 700 bottles from a butt, at 46% vol. And? Colour: gold. Nose: and OB killer. More complex, more herbal, subtler, more elegant… That’s the problem, many distillers are obsessed with wood these days. And yet they are the d.i.s.t.i.l.l.e.r.s., aren’t they? Anyway, lovely citrons, seawater, olives, hessian, pipe smoke, and smoked fish in this one. Plus notes of walnutty and slightly mustardy manzanilla. All these 1998s are great, I have to say. Mouth: naturally. Big smoke, sweet mustard and green pepper, very bitter chocolate, espresso, and very smoky ashes mixed wit the driest marmalade. Plus the obligatory salty touch, for good measure. Obvious, in the greatest way. Finish: long and very dry, on salted chocolate, mustard, and walnut cake. Comments: not an easy one, but I’m a total fan. My masochistic side, I suppose. SGP:367 - 90 points.

Laphroaig 18 yo 1998/2017 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, Consortium of Cards, refill butt, 665 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1998/2017 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, Consortium of Cards, refill butt, 665 bottles) Four stars Yet another story, no comprendo here, I’m throwing in the towel. Cards, again? Did the good Hanyu people take over or something? Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s more medicinal, after all this is Laphroaig. Lemon and iodine, bandages, white pepper, and a dozen oysters. Some vanilla around all that, and perhaps peppered whelks. With water: a little sour dough, mashed potatoes, croissants au beurre… Mouth (neat): some sharp and pungent Laphroaig that bites you with all this pepper, we’re almost in chilli territories. It’s also very sooty and ashy, and rather bone dry. With water: we tamed it, it became gentler, with even raisins (from the sherry?) and some kind of sweet herbal tea. Finish: medium to long, with smoked raisins. Over-baked kouglopf (yep there are many different spellings). Comments: it’s funny how water makes it rounder and sweeter. Peat and sherry don’t always tango to perfection, this one does it rather well in my opinion. SGP:557 - 87 points.

A last one, perhaps, back to the darker ages…

Laphroaig 28 yo 1967 (46%, First Cask, cask #2202, +/-1995)

Laphroaig 28 yo 1967 (46%, First Cask, cask #2202, +/-1995) Five stars This range used to be done by Direct Wines, a mail order company in the UK. In short, whisky by wine people, what could go wrong? Colour: gold. Nose: of course, this is a whole different planet. For example, you’ve got all these medicinal touches, bandages, balms, iodine and such… And then, the tropical fruits, passion fruits, mangos, pink bananas, papayas… I have no idea why no contemporary whiskies have got those, perhaps is it a matter of yeast? Would make sense, wouldn’t it? In any case, this is typical 1960s Laphroaig, and with flying colours. Some would say it’s a pretty Bowmore-y Laphroaig, but we’re talking 1960s, remember… Mouth: when medicine and tropical fruitiness combine so well, you’re almost in heaven. And this baby’s still punching and kicking, with no OBE that I can get, it’s as if it was bottled yesterday. Golden raisins, cassata, camphory syrup, maracuja liqueur, rocket salad (yep, a bitterness), oysters, limejuice… It’s even kind of raw and unpolished, after all these year. Finish: very long, dry, bitter, ashy… I also get olive oil with basil, lemon and pepper, I’m sure you could pour this over your spaghettis. Comments: well, it would be an expensive way of doing your arrabiata sauce, but it could work. Superb old Laphroaig, but it would need twenty more years of bottle aging to get smooooother. After all, great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance (time to call this a tasting session, S.). SGP:456 - 90 points.

(And mille mercis Angus and Fabien)

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







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