Laphroaig 11

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig | Region: Islay | ABV: 48% | Colour: Bronze
Nose: 20 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 83

Review
Those who know me know that I have the softest spot in the world for Laphroaig. It was the first distillery that I had ever visited. I have had some of my best drinking experiences with whiskies from this iconic giant. Sure, like any other love affair, there have been low points in our relationship but those have largely been off set by some stunning spirits.

And since there’s very few recent Laphroaigs that I’ve not tasted I’m always jumping at the opportunity to sink my teeth into any latest offering from them and offer my unsolicited two cents. As was the case with this eleven year old travel retail launched exclusively for Amsterdam Airport.

I was at my friends’ house just ploughing through one independent after another when he put this on the table much to my glee. I had been meaning to get my hands on this but trips to Amsterdam are very few and extremely far between so it turned out to be a rather pleasant surprise.

Now I didn’t know much about this particular offering other than it was exclusive to Amsterdam but I swear as soon as I nosed it I blurted out the words ‘Triple Wood’ ! Upon further examination it was revealed that the maturation process of this and the Triple Wood is exactly the same. First-fill bourbon, followed by Quarter Casks and finally in European Oloroso Sherry, thereby, rendering both spirits almost identical.

This forces me to speculate that maybe my favourite distillery is simply coming up with creative ways of flogging the same spirit to different markets simply by using different labels. I can’t say I’ve not heard that before and, to be honest, it’s being done so much nowadays that it’s almost the norm. But it’s a little frustrating when you pay 150 Euros for an eleven year old whisky who’s taste profile is exactly the same as another NAS from the same portfolio and available at less than 40% of the retail price.

I expect something more and something unique if you’re going to name it and package it differently. Bit of a rip off if you ask me.

Oh well.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 48%

Nose: That extremely typical Laphroaig peat. Iodine. Liquorice. Red fruits. Pomegranate. There’s a certain thick sherry sweetness to it as well -like molasses. Nuts. Almonds, actually. Touch of milk chocolate. Malted milk (that’s the Oloroso sherry before it settles down) – like Horlicks. Oaky. Red berries. Black rock salt. Something mineral about it too. Sea washed pebbles. Kelp. And a coastal saltiness. Do I like it? Not really. It’s just so mainstream. 20/25

Palate: The same. Exactly as I imagined it would be. Red fruits. Berries. Tobacco leaf. Quite spicy. Very spicy infact. A red chilie spice – quite sharp. But mixed with milk chocolate. Touch of mint. And a really sharp betel leaf quality to it as well. Again, so expected. 21/25

Finish: Strange finish. Can’t quite put my finger on it. A bit out of balance. Oak. Quite oily. Cinnamon. And that sharp red chilie again. 21/15

Overall Comments: What am I supposed to say? It’s the Three Wood disguised as an eleven year old and sold at more than twice the price. Is that fair? Nope.

Rating: 83

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Laphroaig 15 Years

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig | Region: Islay | ABV: 43% | Colour: Muddy Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Review
Laphroaig is my forever fighting with Ardbeg for a top spot in my heart. But Ardbeg has taken upon itself to disappoint me more often than not which means I instinctively take refuge in the arms of the other Islay giant.

After having checked my records I realized that Laphroaig is by far my highest reviewed distillery and I also own the most number of it’s bottles too. A little more than Ardbeg. Just goes to show how much I enjoy this ‘most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies’.

The 15 has had a bit of a bad rep. Before I tasted one (a few years ago) there were some who hated it, some who loved and some who were totally indifferent. I ended up being in the latter group. It didn’t exactly set my world on fire and I was happy to let it sit on my shelf for eternity.

Someone then gifted me a more recent bottling (2013) and I just had to see whether they’d made any inroads into improving it. This is after the whole hue and cry of it being discontinued and people throwing themselves off cliffs in grief.

Well, let me tell you something. I think something might have happened here. Five years after being discontinued in 2008 a fresh new spirit was introduced, complete with new label, which I suspect has some much older vintages in it than Laphroaig is letting on.

The result is a restrained sort of Laphroaig without the usual characteristics but which is certainly a step up from it’s older defunct sibling. My sample is from an almost new bottle and served at a weak-ish 43%

Nose: Quite fruity. Some apples. Some pears. All shrouded in delicate smoke. Quite green. Coriander. Some herbs. Garam masala. Mild lemon. Lime. Citrus. Hint of iodine. Coastal sea salt. Fishnets. Brine. I like the nose.

Palate: Hint of sweetness. Mild smoke. Nutmeg. Some citrus. More pineapple than lemon. A touch of char. Dry leaves. The nose does better.

Finish: Took a while to stick. Some smoke. Hint of spice.

Overall I think this is a decent whisky. I am not crazy about it but maybe because I expect huge flavors from Islay whiskies especially this distillery and this one decides it’s a good idea to hold back a touch.

I’m sure this decision garners it more fans. Good on them!

Rating: 85

Laphroaig Cask Strength 10 Year old – Batch 003

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 55.3%
Colour: Young Sauternes

Nose: 24
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
This one is awesome!

No preamble, no build up. Straight up this Batch 3 of the Laphroaig Cask Strength series is a gem!

For those who know me know that I’m a little OCD so when I first bought the Batch 004 I instantly knew I had to collect the entire series. Good thing we were only up to Batch 005 up until that point. Of the lot the one I’m most glad to have acquired is this one.

Nose: That same elegant and poised peat that I’ve come to love from this series. But this time with a nutty almond surprise that blends in beautifully with a drop of cherries and red apple licorice. Give it time and it turns beautifully green. First some olives in brine, then green peas and edemame all against the backdrop of fresh oaky grass. Brilliant.

Palate: What a robust and creamy delivery! A lovely discourse of minty maple syrup and chocolate sprinkled artfully with black peppers and a touch of dusty red berries. I almost feel there is a cheeky sherry cask in here some where. I could be wrong but I would love to be right!

Finish: Lingers long and true with just the right amount of oak.

This is truly a masterclass in balance and elegance.

Rating: 93