Laphroaig (10 year)

Laphroaig is about as classic Islay as you can get. Very heavily peated, light bodied, a powerhouse of maritime flavors and smoke, smoke, and more smoke. Sometimes after a glass of Laphroaig, my mouth tastes like I’ve just finished smoking a pair of cigars. It really sticks with you, but in a good way.

Pale straw in color, slightly oily in the texture and with almost no thickness of body, this malt really lets you focus on the peat. Earthy, smoky, a tinge of sea flavors (seaweed, brine, iodine from the seaweed that grows profusely along the island’s coastline), and did I mention smoky?

I personally only buy the 10 year-old expression, because I feel that aging any further dampens the purity of the peat flavors. Also, at approximately $35, it’s probably the best deal in Single-Malt Scotch anywhere. I keep a bottle on hand at all times.

With Laphroaig’s Friends of Laphroaig program, the purchase of a bottle grants you the “lease” on one square foot of the distillery’s own peat bog. Yes, you can even show up at the distillery in person and they’ll give you a map to your “plot” and a dram of their whisky “against the chill sea breeze.” You can also register each bottle you buy and redeem points for merchandise in their online store.

Here are my tasting notes from my most recent glass of the 10 year-old Laphroaig:

Nose: A pile of burning hay and grass. Campfire. Scorched wood. Seaweed or sea air. Hickory smoked meat. Black pepper.

Palate: Thin body, ethereal. The peat is foremost, with notes of ash, freshly-dug earth, hardwood coals, and smoked fish. As it develops, sweeter flavors emerge. Rosewater, saltwater taffy, buttery croissants, malty beer, oatmeal.

Finish: Lingering, with hearty smoke and yet more peat. Also some oiliness on the tongue. The smoke will last all evening – I’ve even woken in the morning with my mouth tasting like a cigar.

A dash of water rounds the flavors out – you get more cereal sweetness up front, and the aromatic qualities are more noticable. This dram is somewhat improved by the addition of a minute amount of water.

Laphroaig (10 year)
40.0% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $29-$40
Acquired: (Bottle): Beverages & More, Folsom, CA $33. BevMo link
Posted in Reviews, Top Scotches | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
34 Comments

34 Responses to Laphroaig (10 year)

  1. Bruce McLellan says:

    I am well satisfied,and am now on my Tenth bottle.

  2. Bruce McLellan says:

    I keep a bottle just for my brother and I and very few friends.No I’m not mean but friends appreciate good malt.

  3. J WHITE says:

    i personaly dont get it although the modern chilfiltered 40% is meant to be tamed the web says. im just getting a lake or something very damp. most clean. sweet. and the smoke is like bbq Hickory smoke. not getting tobacco and its not roaring phenolic blast your head off like a 3d series. never tried the other one. im sure it’s very good.

    • @J WHITE, I unfortunately haven’t tried the older versions of Laphroaig 10. I believe these days if you want a true phenol blast, you pretty much have to look at Ardbeg or some of the limited-edition Bruichladdichs (like The Octomore). I think Laphroaig 10 is still pretty drinkable when I’m in a peathead mood, and the price is just right. When I want something more elegant and masterful, I look to Lagavulin 16, Talisker 10, or something like Ardbeg Corryvreckan.

  4. Carl says:

    This was, tonight, my first taste of a single malt whisky, and my first bottle of a non-blend purchased. It about knocked me out of my chair. The nose was awesome, like the outdoors with maybe some licorice? The Palate: intense and smokey, I definitely understand the “iodine” label I read on a review. And was that black pepper and grass? The finish was what made me not get buyers remorse. It was so pleasant, like waking up after a night by a campfire, or after a cigar. and there maybe was even a hint of vanilla? something welcome anyway…

    I think I like it, and I definitely am a sucker for the FOL club. An extra mile that builds a fanbase. Not upset at my purchase, but will research a less intense bottle to add next time. Tullamore Dew and Black Bush will taste like schnapps in comparison.

  5. Matt says:

    The Laphroaig 10 is indeed my daily dram, and I always have a bottle on hand…however the Laphroaig 10 cask strength is the greatest scotch whisky I have ever tasted. As a craft-presented Laphroaig (no color added, and barrier filtered to remove the wood), it is in your face, and still affordable at only $65, as opposed to the $80-90 for the Lagavulin 16. Also, it must be mentioned that the Lagavulin 16 is watered down at 43%…Should at least be 46% for the money. Man, I love your reviews! Great job.

    • Matt,
      Thanks for the comment! I have a sample of Laphroaig CS that I’m planning to review in the near future. Have you had their Quarter-Cask? It’s only $10-$15 more than the 10 year, here in California, and I think it adds some nice body and excellent wood integration, which is somewhat missing from the standard 10. Sort of like an Ardbeg Alligator for everyday.

      • Matt says:

        I have indeed had the quarter cask. While in most places I find it talked and written about in high regard, I do not find it that great. I find the sweetness found in the quarter cask…well, not for me. I’m not a sweetness lover (in my whisky). Drams that I love are the drier, smokier, oakier, peaty, and earthy whiskies. Talisker 10 is another of my daily drams, but the price can be a tad too high. That is why the cask Laphroaig 10 is so good. A mere $15 dollars above Talisker, and so much more ethereal. You are so right though, for the money (which is a phrase I hate by the way)…there is no better whisky than the standard Laphroaig 10…By the way, here in Ohio I am able to purchase the 43% version. It’s far superior to the 40%. Again, I love your site. Keep up the great reviews!

    • spep says:

      I’m sorry to tell you that 10yo Cask Strength has e150a in it I’m afraid. FOL says ‘coloring has no effect to the taste’. Well all due respect I strongly desagree! It would be a lot better without caramel.

  6. Michael says:

    I love Laphroaig, they are my favorite distillery. As soon as I can afford it I never will be without a bottle.

    I also agree with Matt, the Original Cask Strength (Well, just Cask Strength now) is my favorite in their line, and my favorite whisky. I was lucky enough to grab a bottle of the first batch after they started small-batching it. I keep the now-empty bottle on my desk.

  7. Jeff says:

    I think this review is horrible!, Smoke, Smoke Smoke? I find the smokiness as an afterthought and found the sweet sea air and malty sea flavor and sweet peat are what makes this a good scotch. Smoky ??? sure but if that’s mostly what you get than give up scotch and go back to wine tasting.

    • I’ve approved this comment despite your horrible attitude, because I don’t believe in censorship on the Internet. That said, I can’t imagine how you can expect to have a fulfilling or constructive conversation with someone with that kind of approach.

    • Garret says:

      While i do not always agree with thescotchnoob and his reviews at times i may get heated but that is on bourbon reviews i have found his scotch reviews to be educational and well worded. Back to what you where saying jeff smoke, peat, maritime air, iodine thats what people look for in an islay malt, you should remember that certain people have a better developed palate than others.

  8. Walter says:

    Contrary to Jeff I think your review was spot on. I drink the scotch I don’t think a great deal about it. There are days when I want the Laphroaig and days when I want some McCallen. The phenolic taste brings memories of the electrical work that I do, but it is the earthy taste that drifts through my mouth that reminds me of the woods and huntin and campfires of the past.

  9. JeffB says:

    I”m on my 5th bottle of Laphroaig 10 after a great friend of mine turned me on to it. I must say, after tasting several single malts including Lagaluvin 16, I still come back to Laphroaig. I really enjoy the peaty taste, and the smoothness of the Laphroaig. I”m sold! Being from Oregon, I’m anxious to taste McCarthy’s Oregon Single-Malt and compare…

  10. DallasH says:

    Bought my first bottle of Laphroaig 10 this past week. It took me a couple of drinks to become accustomed to the flavours and aroma. Defiantly a bottle I will keep on hand at all times and a hit with friends. Thanks to is site for putting me on to some amazing options.

  11. Ron Greenman says:

    The friend that was to be the best man at my wedding some forty years ago introduced me to Laphroaig. He has sadly passed but I still have the wife and the Scotch, many bottles later.

  12. Piper Rich says:

    This is my favorite whisky by far. I always have a bottle around. Definitely try the Quarter Cask or full Cask strength – they’re even better!

  13. Sam says:

    Can anyone comment on the Laphroaig Triple Wood in comparison to this? How far/similar from the Laphroaig 10 is it?

    • Ben says:

      The Triple Wood is another one of those difficult marriages between sherry and peat. Murray, I know from his book, thinks these marriages never work. Probably a matter of taste. The Triple Wood is sweeter and less imposing than the 10 with a higher ABV. To me, the 10 as well as the Cask Strength knock my socks off. Whenever I have some, I always think, “why would I ever drink anything else?” The Triple Wood has hints of the Laphroaig 10 but doesn’t elicit that reaction. Bottom line: if you’re a Laphroaig fan and want to try a variation on what Laphroaig does — or if you want to try one of these attempts at a sherried/peated Scotch, by all means try the Triple Wood. But don’t expect the brute force of the 10.

  14. Garret says:

    Scotchnoob in your honest opinion which would you buy first? Lagavulin 16 year old or Laphroiag 10, after finlaggan i am torn.

    • Garret, if you’re looking for a progression in terms of “smoothness” and refinement (and price), then yes I would recommend going Laphroaig 10 and then Lagavulin 16. The Lagavulin is quite a bit more expensive, so I tend to think of the Laphroaig as a good cabinet “regular” and the Lagavulin as more “special occasion”. They both have unique things to offer, though.

  15. Frank says:

    I tried Scotch 40 yrs ago and hated it UNTIL I went on a cruise last may and met a Scotsman. He showed me Glennfiddich 12 y/o and I am hooked. I want to buy a bottle of something else to sip and enjoy. I was thinking of the Laphroaig 10 y/o but it might be a bit too smokey….any recommendations at around $50-60 a bottle. BTW. Laphroaig 10 costs about $57 in NJ. thank you. Obviously I am not new to the drinking world…but ‘new’ to the single malt world. GREAT site btw….

    • Frank, Laphroaig 10 is very peaty/smokey, yes. It’s something I recommend people try in a bar for the first time, rather than investing in a whole bottle. Peat can be an acquired taste, and many people despise it immediately. For a next step after Glenfiddich 12, I would suggest The Balvenie DoubleWood 12. It’s a nice compromise between single malt aged in ex-bourbon (like Glenfiddich 12) and ex-sherry (like Macallan 12). Check out my post here for other ideas: Picking Your First Single-Malt Scotch. Cheers!

  16. Randy M says:

    Just tried this at a local bar last night and was really impressed. With a splash of water this was quite smooth and really a pleasure to sip I will be stopping by the liquor store this afternoon to pick up a bottle. I like Glenlivet 12, but at roughly the same price, I prefer the Laphroaig 10. I foresee this becoming a regular in my cabinet.

  17. Mr.Hand says:

    Laphroaig, a smokey beast to be sure. I cannot decide if i prefer ardbeg or laphroaig each one has elements i like. Scotchnoob what do you recommend next for my islay adventure, I love ardbeg 10 and laphroaig 10 so building off of that what do you think is good.

    • Mr. Hand, I would suggest trying Lagavulin 16 next. It’s pricier, but it’s more elegant and refined than the brasher Ardbeg and Laphroaig. It’s also partially sherried, and is excellently balanced. Another option is to go lighter, with something like Bowmore or Caol Ila, both of which have less peat (or less “apparent” peat character) than Ardbeg or Laphroaig.

  18. Niran says:

    I bought this bottle upon a recommendation from a Scottish woman at my local store. She said “it was her fathers favorite scotch”. Seeing as how she was undeniably from the mother land I believed her and bought this bottle, but have yet to open it. I don’t love the peat taste so I am wondering if maybe I should return this bottle before I have a $60 (seems like the price has drastically increased since this review) bottle I don’t like. Is the smoke completely overwhelming or is it something that is balanced out by the other flavors? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Niran,
      Most people who try peated whisky for the first time – specifically fully-peated single malts (as opposed to lightly-peated blends that only contain a small percentage of peated single malt) – find it to be a very strong smell and taste that must be acquired. However, anyone who enjoys smoked foods (salmon for example) or challengingly complex flavors will very quickly warm to peat. Laphroaig 10 is definitely in the “strong” category, so if you already know you don’t like peat, I would return it. That said, maybe this is an opportunity to “acquire” the taste of peat. :)

  19. Flip says:

    I enjoy this one for how interesting it is. The first dram, I didn’t think I was going to like it. I poured it and let it sit so I could just get accustomed to the smell. It is a mouthful of flavor. To me it is like eating something smoky. I need a glass of water because drinking the whisky makes me thirsty. I didn’t like that at first but it’s worth it now. Laphroaig is worth having in the cabinet for sure. Can’t say it is my favorite, but I’m sure I will keep buying it.

  20. Jon says:

    Recently picked up my first bottle of Laphroaig 10. At first wasn’t sure I liked it (my first peated whisky was Lagavulin 16), but I’m already starting to like this whisky. It’s definitely not as smooth as the Lagavulin 16, but is one I’m starting to enjoy.

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