Laphroaig

Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas 200th Anniversary Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Laphroaig Cairdeas 200.jpg
ABV
51.5%
Aging
11 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This whisky was produced in master distiller's John Campbell's interpretation of what would have been produced years ago at Laphroaig - made using the small stills at laphroaig, and matured in the oldest warehouse (no. 1, right by the sea), with 100% of the malt in this whisky being floor malted at laphroaig.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 200th Anniversary

  • Bottling Code: L5 11375A 90:03

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Rich, full force laphroaig – but extra creamy this time. Black olives, peat bog, iodine, caramel, incense, lime leaf,  and loads of vegetal peat notes. Oddly, it’s reminding me of walking through the produce section of a chinese grocery store, though I’m not sure what vegetable it is that I’m smelling. Yet, the oak is well at play, providing a terrific backbone of woody notes – you can tell the casks were terrific that went into this, not just the distillate. The mouthfeel is terrific, and quite spicy in fact – with some brilliant cedar notes, milk chocolate, burning leaves, light butterscotch, and a rich, full finish with dark chocolate, smoke, wet earth, black olive, and roasted lemons. Intriguing, complex, with terrific feel and movement. A remarkable dram.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, at $100 - this is just awesome stuff.


Review: Islay Mist 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
8 Years
Recipe
Scottish Malt and Grain Whiskies
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This is a blended scotch which includes a number of whiskies, of which the core component is Laphroaig. It can give someone a budget introduction to smoky islay whiskies, as these are often love or hate first (expensive) experiences – but this one doesn’t show the complexity, grace, and power of many of the Islay malts.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Light lemon peel, orange, apple, combined with some light smoke and vanilla, and some raw almonds. At times it’s a bit sour and slightly stale and bitter. It could use a bit more complexity, but it is light and pleasant as is with the interplay of the citrus and smoke.

Taste: A bit of the smoky peat comes in with a bit of bitterness (which is ever so slightly present throughout), and there’s an odd bit of sourness which is misplaced. The sweetness builds towards the end, but the whisky sort of collapses into the finish. It’s a bit raw, almost – but as I drink more I become more accustomed to it and notice more of the underlying richness and sweetness.

Finish: It sort of collapses on the finish, and there is a light peppery smoke which sits on the front of the tongue. There’s a bit of sweet vanilla as well, with some cinnamon, almond, a bit of earthiness, green apples, some light malt, and a touch of salt. It has decent length, but could do with a bit more flavour.

The nose is a bit intriguing but the taste doesn’t match up to the expectations. Elements of it speak clearly enough, and well, but the combination of all the elements is a bit discordant and cacophonous. Originally, I was interested to see if this one would work as a peaty mixer for a few smoky cocktails. It works ok – it still doesn’t have enough peaty kick for cocktails that demand the peaty levels of a Laphroaig or similar – but it is quite a decent peaty mixer and I can usually make do with it.

Value: Low. Some quite like this for a cheap peater, but I don’t like it enough to spend the money on it.


Review: Laphroaig An Cuan Mor Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
First Fill Ex-American oak followed by European Oak
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

It's interesting that Laphroaig states Ex-American oak rather than ex-bourbon, as they do for other whiskies...do they use ex-rye barrels? An Cuan Mor is matured in first fill American oak and then recasked into European oak, and bottled as a non-chill filtered product for travel retail. Generally, I find travel retail rather hit and miss unless you know what you are looking for - but Laphroaig is often a good choice, if you are into it...

Thanks to Mark Bylok for the sample (you can see his review here).


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2016

Green pear, smoke, peat reek, rich cacao, vanilla, tar, rubber, brine, seaweed – that’s some good old islay at work here! The palate is pretty ashy with lemon, apple, pepper, and some caramel all feeding into the story. The finish is long, complex – lots of smoke, chocolate, minerality, golden delicious apples. For travel retail, this is a much firmer laphroaig character than the PX or QA cask.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, based on $160.


Review: Laphroaig PX Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
Pedro Ximinez, American, and quarter casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

A travel retail bottling coming from another sherried finish to Laphroaigs typical recipe of American Oak to Quarter Cask to Sherry Barrel, similar to the Oloroso finished Triple Wood


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L416157A 08:33

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Vanilla and wood, primarily...and pepper and rancio and a bit of sherry. With lots going on it makes one wonder whether the peat fits in? The sweetness on the palate and the vanilla contrast a bit with the dry and quite nice) smokiness. A bit of barnyard peat as well, and still there’s some smokiness of a charred wood character on top of the peat smoke. Complex, smoky, and sherried...with a good finish -  good, but not of the caliber of some of their standard bottlings. However, those are great bottlings – as is this.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $110.


Review: Laphroaig 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
18 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This old Laphroaig is produced in limited quanitities, and thus is generally but not always available. It comes in at quite a good price if you find it at the right place. However, as typical with aging, don't expect it to be as peaty as your typical Laphroaig - the age diminishes the big smoke.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L505557C 14:30

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

It seems light – because it is not as smoky as many other Laphroaigs. Quite fruity – apple, apple seeds, cucumber– with vegetal peatiness lurking in the background. Some biscuit and fruity aromas too. Creamy and sweet with the vanilla in the background. The oak is present, and dense- and fades with added water. Apple juice, elderflower, clove, - Some rich oils come through as well which I didn’t see as much in the younger expressions – perhaps they are just more revealed here. The palate shows a bit of smoke and salt, charcoal, raisins, elderflower, and finishing with oaky spices and apple and some emerging white pepper. Interesting to taste a laphroaig which is a bit more restrained – and a lot of the complexity is brought in by their beautiful peat, which fades with time in the cask.  Some of the oak tannins work well with the smoke, and provide a drying sensation alongside the smoke and the tingly spiciness of the whisky. It is nice…but could be nicer…it’s no slouch though!

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $120.


Review: Laphroaig Triple Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
Ex-bourbon, oloroso, and quarter casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

A fruitier standard Laphroaig, being matured in both bourbon, oloroso, and quarter casks - this gives it a bit more breadth in flavour but I find it also makes it a bit less sharp...


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

I love laphroaig. Just a whiff of this reminds me of that fact. What beautiful sweet peat, ash, charcoal, roasted dried apricots, banana, green apple, cinnamon, and smoke. Mmm. A bit of anise, and candied bacon. A bit of iodine on the nose too, and lightly creamy. On the palate – dried seaweed, dried fish, rockpools, cloves - finishing with some light banana, apple, ash, and smoke. The middle of the palate is a bit lacking (not to say this isn’t full of flavour)…but it begs for just a bit more to put it up with the 10 year old and quarter cask. However, still terrific…

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $86.


Review: Laphroaig Quarter Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
Ex-bourbon casks, finished in quarter casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

Laphroaig is a distillery on Islay, a small Scottish island renowned for its whiskies – many of which are heavily peated. It is considerably old (1815), and has used a slightly different technique in the crafting of this particular whisky. The whisky is first matured in bourbon casks (Maker’s Mark), and then matured in small casks (quarter casks) which allow 30% more surface area contact than regular casks. This allows for faster, and different, aging of the spirit. It’s a pretty unique technique in whisky, but I will not go into detail as so much has been written about it elsewhere.


Review (2013)

  • Batch:

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Nose: Tarry smoke here, there, and everywhere. It’s wonderful. Salted caramel, with oak lingering in the background as well. It’s a fascinating nose that most certainly draws you right in. There are notes of sweet barbeque in the background, vanilla, and vegetal, oily aromas present. There’s also a bit of creaminess, like buttercream, an orange zestiness, reminding me of a bourbon-orange bread pudding one of my friends used to make. Sweet pickles. Great smoke that you want to see dominate. There’s quite a bit of earthiness from the peat, too. A bit of the salt comes through, almost as soy as soy sauce.

Taste: Intense smoke, which dominates before some salty-sweetness comes through, with a bit of oak as spices and heat rise up as the whisky moves down the throat, leaving the mouth tingling with oak spices, vanilla, and a bit of tannin. Intense, chewy. There’s a touch of the orange zetiness as well in the taste. The spice at the end is beautiful as it makes its home in your mouth – the peppers. There’s a nice sweet part to the middle. Excellent!

Finish: Very nice and long, the sort which you can taste after you’ve eaten something else. Sweet, oaky, and very smoky. I can’t really say enough. There’s a touch of an off bitter note, but overall it is still quite fabulous. The effect of the tannins on the mouthfeel is very enjoyable afterward as well, and there is also a touch of salt in the finish too.

I have to say, to manage 4 pretty big categories of flavours – salty, sweet, smoky, and spicy, as laphroaig quarter cask does is absolutely tremendous.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high, based on $75.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L410657A 08:10

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Black tea, banana and...wow! what peat this is! After tasting quite a few peated whiskies together over the course of a few days this one really stood out in the flight, as usual. Sharply mineral, oily, biscuity and bready too. On the palate, there is lots going on - though that banana might be getting in the way. the peat, and finish - incredible. Less complex, in this bottle, than the 10 year old I just tasted, but a deeper and better finish. The youth is felt a bit. The complexity is astounding – from the mineral to the floral to the marine (dried fish). There is more detailed tasting notes above which this one also holds to – suffice it to say that it’s not hard for this to entertain you well for a long time. The one thing about this dram, though – it is all about the peat. As the bottle loses some of the peat kick as it stays open, the complexity definitely drops also and it would drop below a 90. Drink it young and fresh!

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high, based on $75.


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

ABV
43%
Aging
10 yrs; Ex-bourbon barrels
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

Laphroaig is known for their big, peaty drams which are on the most intense and extreme side of Scotch whisky. If you like big, peaty, and medicinal drams, almost everything they release is both terrific and relatively affordable. This is the "original" Laphroaig, as it has been produced the same way for over 75 years.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L133957C 10:36

  • Bottling Date: 2013

What peat this is! Rock pools, celery, menthol, apples, prunes (roasted), pear, smoke, and maybe a touch of lime peel - the menthol makes things interesting in that mix! The smoke is simply awesome: what sharpness and intensity of peat, yet held back - the character and quality of the peat in this, and the balance - incredible. I wish they would bottle this one at 48%. The cask strength version perhaps meets this need…but an in between wouldn’t be bad.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, based on $86.


Review: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
56.3%
Aging
10 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

I love most things that Laphroaig does, and this is no exception - a cask strength version of their terrific 10 year old. This is somewhat hard to find, but well worth buying, if you can find it.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 007

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

On the box, they recommend to drink this diluted 2:1 with water (~19% ABV). At this strength, the nose is certainly impressive – mineral characteristics, hay, a touch of a floral character (elderflower), salt stone, burning leaves, smoke, earth and roots, orange peel, mixed roasted nuts, and iodine – the elderflower is just terrific, and bridges between the earthy and smoke flavours while also brightening up the entire nose. On the palate, lots of smoke, dried seaweed, and cucumber. Terrific finish with building smoke. However, not the strength I’d drink it at – though fun for the sake of nosing.

At 43%, compared to the standard 10 year old, not quite as dark in colour and a bit hazy (good on it!) – more marine, and more farmy – and the mineral character is quite sharp as well – actually sharper and more clearly cut. A bit sweeter, too, and the spices are bigger with a bit more tannin – even at this diluted level. Finishes with some brilliant ash and spice. Even at 43%, better than the terrific standard 10- year old.

Finally, cask strength: the nose, of course, is concentrated with alcohol being heavy yet concentrating the floral elderflower, smoke, and vanilla – I notice the oak here in a way I didn’t at either of the lower strengths. Everything else is there, still, at this strength – a beauty. The palate has terrific feel and body, with a moving, powerful, dry peat and tingling spices. Spicy cigar spices on the finish, eventually fading to vanilla and oak.

Not as good, in my memory, as batch 5 – but I don’t have a side by side comparison to investigate properly. Still, a wow whisky.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very High, at $76.