This review is for a sample graciously provided by @Nozinan.
Batch 005, opened May 20, 2017, gassed after each use, 2/3 full when the sample was poured on Nov 5/2017
Much like my review of Lagavulin 12, anyone considering my score should temper it with the knowledge that I am very favourably disposed toward Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg. I try to remain as objective as possible, but the senses want what the senses want.
Nose (undiluted): very briny (sea salt), the seaweed (iodine) note is front and center at first, with the smoke hanging around in the background. There is also a pronounced, rich vanilla note. With time in the glass, the smoke becomes more assertive with a mineral note appearing as well. A bonfire on a rocky beach. Later still, aromas of salted caramel start competing with the smoke. The nose has a great development. This is how scotch should smell.
Palate (undiluted): surprisingly sweet arrival, medium-bodied, very friendly for a 57.2% ABV whisky, rich earth, ashy peat, some restrained black pepper notes with the salted caramel popping in again.
Finish: long, sweet and earthy, black pepper returning with a medicinal, menthol and iodine note lingering. Hints of barbecue smoke. I don’t want this to end.
Adding water immediately made the nose far more medicinal and antiseptic. The smoke retreats a bit before coming back and bringing the salted caramel along for the ride. The vanilla aromas are toned down with the addition of water, but a ripe pear note I often find in Laphroaig pops in. The arrival in the palate is actually hotter with the addition of water. Black pepper comes forward but retreats quickly as the sweetness comes back, which develops to a rich, thick cigar smoke. The finish is less medicinal with the addition of water. The earthy peat dominates the finish with some briny seaweed hanging around. I think this one might actually be better with a bit of water. I added a little less than half a teaspoon and it made a positive difference. Of course, time in the glass may have been the difference-maker as well, though I did let it rest 15 minutes (covered) before nosing and sipping neat. This might be, to my tastes, a perfect whisky, if not for the existence of Lagavulin 12. It's up there for me, however.