I’m impressed that in a side-by-side comparison, it’s clear that this is Laphroaig “plus”. You get extra cinnamon, extra vanilla, and extra oaky sweetness from the European oak that’s just simply missing from the standard expression. It does not taste older, nor mellower. If you feel like your standard Laphroaig could use a little more flavor that isn’t peat, you’ll probably enjoy…
…this is the first addition to the core range of Laphroaig in awhile. The official back story for the Select (why does every new release need a back story these days?) is that because the last distillery manager when Laphroaig was family-owned, Ian Hunter, was among the first to utilize ex-bourbon barrels in the maturation of single malt. At the time, Laphroaig would have been primarily aged in used (and reused) European oak wine and fortified wine (sherry, madeira, port, etc.) casks.
An unusual, decadent take on the standard Laphroaig brashness. While most of me enjoys the layering of fruit and peat, a small part misses the straightforward intensity, austerity, and rough edges of the Laphroaig 10, which seems to say, “I don’t need any of that fruity nonsense”, and which comes with an age statement to boot. Despite my quirks, I can say that this is an accomplished, well-balanced, and rewarding dram at a perfectly reasonable $80.
So what do you do when you want to beat a competitor’s vast success with Double Wood? Simple. Triple Wood! (Although Auchentoshan beat them to it). In this case, a reasonable vatting of standard ex-bourbon Laphroaig, Laphroaig Quarter-Cask (does that really count as a separate ‘wood’?), and ex- oloroso sherry casks.
I received a sample of the Exclusive Malts single-cask bottling of Laphroaig, distilled 2005/bottled 2013, by the distributor ImpEx Beverages (Thanks Katia!). It’s a single-cask Laphroaig bottled at 55.9% ABV. As usual with single-casks from independents, I’m looking for two very specific things…
This is the full cask strength version of Laphroaig’s flagship 10-year. At 57.8% ABV and not chill-filtered, this is essentially the standard 10-year minus water, and without the chill-filtration. That means there’s nothing between you and the raw fury of Laphroaig peat. Beware!
Before you can taste it, though, you’ve got to know how to pick a whisky to try! This post will focus on single-malt scotch, which I think is the best possible place to get your bearings in the wider world of whisky.
Whisky enthusiasts are easy to buy for. Most of us are happy to try a new and unfamiliar Scotch, and will be enthused to drain the bottle even if it doesn’t become a new favorite. Here are my top 10 suggestions for giving whisky gifts in 2011.
Finlaggan is a conundrum. Bottles from the Finlaggan brand contain a single malt from an Islay distillery. The company keeps a very tight lid on the identity of its source, breaking silence only to insist that Finlaggan does now, always has, and always will contain whisky from the same distillery.
Wherein I discuss Laphroaig 18, and the situation that arises when I can’t formulate a full review based on a partial tasting.