Review: Last Straw Stout Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
3 years; Re-charred California wine cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

This spirit was made from a high gravity stout mash with no hops, using a distillers yeast. It was made in collaboration with Vaughan’s Lake Wilcox Brewing Co., who make a powerhouse Irish stout. The spirit was mashed at the brewery, but then fermented for nearly two weeks (!) at the distillery before being double distilled to 88% ABV (a very clean white spirit at this percent!).

When Last Straw released their stout spirit last year, at just 4 months old, it was one of the aged young whisky spirits I’ve tasted. That was the sister cask to this one. I have been very eager to see what the whisky was going to look like – we already knew that it would be good young.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: sw001

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

The nose is very similar to stout spirit – but much richer and bigger. We have lots of confectionary notes – vanilla, icing sugar, toffee – but also sharp oak, slight smoke, banana, toasted baking spices (slightly subtle), and toasted malt. It is very well balanced. Despite all the confectionary notes, it isn’t sweet – perhaps holding a bit less sweetness than typical whiskies aged in new oak. The palate follows from the nose – the confectionary notes are met with a rich body, combined with a very nice tannic backbone that adds a lot of structure without detracting from the notes of the whisky. I love confectionary notes on whiskies that aren’t too sweet – so this is right up my alley, especially with the way it integrates fruit notes, oak structure and character, spices, and rich malty notes. The finish slowly unfolds as the tannins soften, starting with oak and spice, then buttercream and bamboo, and then banana cream pie on the finish.

Lovely! They’ve released some good rye, and they make some really interesting spirit (like their malted corn) – but this is my favourite release from Last Straw so far.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Try this, if you can get your hands on it.

Value: High, at $75. Great value for the price.


Review: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Sherry Oak Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
10 yrs; Ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This isn’t too far of a cry from the old Laphroaig Triple Wood, which I guess is gone now - we are on to four wood (really?…), the 10 year, quarter cask, and this one. But, 10 years, sherry finish, 48% - I’m interested, even if sherry and peat can be perilous…


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L1 026 SBI 2034 15:50

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

·         Bottling Date: ~2020

Without even comparing to other bottlings or rating – that nose on Laphroaig is so great. It’s been too long…

Charred chickpeas, smoke, wet earth, baking spice, vanilla, smoked almonds, and some classic, interesting medicinal notes – bandaids and iodine. It isn’t as vibrant or “together” as the best Laphroaig noses. There are some dense bready notes here too – interesting, reminding me of dense pumperknickel. The palate is richly earthy and spicy, if not a bit thin. There is a big backbone of dried fruit, and the tannins are perfect. Peppery. Nice. The finish is really earthy, and the nutty/fruity character of the sherry opposes the peat in a way that is interesting – not necessarily opposing but also not necessarily complementing.

It doesn’t have the punch or elegance (dare I say it?) of quarter cask, nor the delicate balance between cask and spirit, but there is more going on here. Fruity, with a more clean and narrow portrayal of peat smoke. Delicious stuff.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $100.


Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas Pedro Ximinez Casks by Jason Hambrey

ABV
58.9%
Aging
Pedro Ximinez Finish
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This whisky went through three casks - first fill American ex-bourbon barrels, American ex-bourbon quarter casks, before being finished in European oak hogsheads which contained pedro ximinez (PX) sherry.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Pedro Ximinez Casks

  • Bottling Code: L102D SBD 2022 15:26

  • Bottling Date: 2021

It’s strong, but not as smoky as I wish. The PX certainly adds sweetness and stone fruit – peach, apricot, and canned peaches and apricot – in surprising strength given how much flavour is in your base Laphroaig. Vanilla, caramel, and some other confectionary notes – and toasted barley notes. A nice kick of bourbon cask notes! Those creamy, oaky, dried stone fruit notes. On the nose, it’s younger or less developed than your standard laphroaigs. The palate is smoky, and quite sweet and fruity. It’s slightly sour. The vegetal smoke is in every corner here, but there is sweet fruit, almost syrupy, finding its way into the corners as well. The finish is smoky, sweet, and fruity (hmm…does that help anyone? The finish has some intriguing floral notes of lavender, combined with clove and a touch of nutmeg, wet earth, earthy smoke – like burning wet wood, candied orange, hazlenuts, and cinnamon. The smoke and nuttiness are at the core of the finish – everything else is at the edges. Lots going on.)

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: I’m not sure I’d ever turn up my nose at a cask strength laphroaig at $120.