I was quite happy to crack open this whisky once again. I bought it a short while ago, had some, and then sealed it up to try to keep the peat intact. I find most whiskies keep for long periods, however, peat in scotch does tend to fade with time (doesn’t even take that long!) and air in my experience once the bottle has been opened. However, with bottlings such as these, it certainly won’t spend much time without being consumed!
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.
Nose: tarry smoke here, there, and everywhere. It’s wonderful. Salted caramel, with oak lingering in the background as well. I love the peat, and there’s good depth to it. It’s a fascinating nose that most certainly draws you right in. There are notes of sweet barbeque in the background, and salt as well. I love to get lost in the nose. There are also vegetal, oily aromas present in the nose as well. Vanilla is present, as well. There’s also a bit of creaminess, like buttercream, which is fascinating. There’s also a bit of an orange zestiness to the nose, 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. Grainy smell a bit reminiscent of fresh bread. There’s quite a bit of earthiness from the peat, too. A bit of the salt comes through, almost as soy as soy sauce. 27.5/30 (92%)
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. I have to say that I have a bit of a weak spot for well done peat. Intense, chewy. If I can give any critique, it’s that sometimes the salt is a little too present for me. However, this is still one of my all time favourite tastes – what a pleasure to enjoy. 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! 28.5/30 (95%)
Finish: very nice and long, the sort which you can taste after you’ve eaten something else. Sweet, oaky, and very smoky. Very bold, and long. 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. 18.5/20 (93%)
Conclusion: 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. 18.5/20 (93%)
Overall Score: 93/100