A unique chance to sample the five different Laphroaig distillery expressions. Amazing value tasting.
The distillery at Laphroaig lies on a rocky, rugged stretch of coastline with angry seething seas and harsh unwelcoming winters, and when you stand on the sea shore close by the white distillery walls and look out, you are looking at a view which has not changed at all in thousands of years. You can taste the salt in the air, smell the seaweed, and the wind makes you feel fresh and vital. It’s an uncompromising place.
The malt made here is made using peated barley, which means that the barley is dried over peat fires, imparting a smoky, medicinal and charcoally taste to it.
Few distilleries can match Laphroaig for big, phenolic, medicinal and coastal tasting whiskies. It's no secret that Prince Charles is among the distillery's fans. There are very few nods to modernity in its still-rooms, maltings floors or maturation warehouses. On one level little seems to have changed here since they started producing malt whisky nearly 200 years ago. But let me let you in to a little secret: this is a great time to discover Laphroaig. Frankly, the distillery's on a roll. It's released no fewer than four new expressions in the last year, and every one has raised the bar for the distillery and is world class. Exciting times for an exciting distillery.
Laphroaig 10 year old is their standard expression, and is one of the best value for money whiskies there is.
Nose: Subdued and elusive, with some peat but apple peel and green salad in the mix.
Palate: Sherbety, with Pontefract cakes and defined punch peat. Surprisingly soft overall though.
Finish: Medium, with some soft toffee notes and peat.
The cask strength version of the 10 year old has been revamped and is released in annual batches at high strength.
Nose: Drier, with "tarred rope" phenol.
Palate: Seaweedy. Both salty and sweet. Tar-like.
Finish: Medicinal. Tar, phenol, peat, earth. A wonderfully complex whisky.
Best to buy direct from the Laphroaig site, or elsewhere for Over £50.
Quarter Cask is partly matured in casks one quarter the size of normal casks. The nature of maturation in the quarter cask is such that it gives the whisky a depth and concentration of flavours in a shorter period of time, making for a much mightier malt than the distillery's standard 10 year old. While there's nothing at all wrong with the latter, many Laphroaig fans believe that the Quarter Cask is a return to the distillery's glory days, when they say the whisky was more powerful. Quarter Cask is made up of whisky aged 5-8 years.
Nose: A grinderman nose: powerful, dusty, with green fruits, coal shed smoke, engine oil. All very intense.
Palate: Concentrated and intense industrial smoke, some aniseed, a trace of liquorice. Mouth-coating.
Finish: Sharp and savoury peat notes linger.
Costs Around £35.
A triple matured whisky which has its first maturation in American oak the second in quarter casks and the final maturation is in Oloroso sherry casks. Laphroaig's owners are intent on ensuring a big peaty engine for any new release, but this is a monster by anyone’s standards. It's essentially Quarter Cask finished in oloroso sherry casks. Big, moody, broody, fruity, and rich: what's not to love?Tasting notes:
In 2009 Laphroaig replaced their 15 year old expression with this new 18 year old, a category winner at the 2010 World Whisky Awards.
Nose: Brine and sea spray. Greasy rope. Hot road tar in the rain.
Palate: Industrial steam engine. Red liquorice. Peppered steak cooked on a hickory barbeque. Big and brooding.
Finish: Long, with peat coating the mouth and liquorice and hickory lingering.