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Laphroaig - or 'Leapfrog' as a friend from That London refers to it - always was, remains so, and just is. In describing the experience of drinking this apparently rough-hewn Islay whisky it seems a waste of time to stray beyond the usual nods to 'linament', 'embrocation', or whatever medicinal term springs to mind when describing the taste.
But stick your nose in a glass and try to disentangle all the flavour notes and it turns out to be a bit of an all-rounder.
In fact it's an elusive dram; an educated Scot in the late 16C could have been talking about Laphroaig when he stated: "Sa peirles proud, as na toung of man is able to discriue."
But here goes, in an attempt to discriue what it's like to sup a dram of the 10yo. On the nose: soft buttery, vanilla notes; in the mouth a suggestion of a good, sweet serrano ham. Not as linament-strong as I remember and a slightly dry oakiness developing afterwards.
I've just finished a bottle of Triplewood and where that curious expression was busy and extrovert, the 10yo by comparison is subtle - and that's something I'd never thought to say about any Laphroaig.
In summary, it's a classic dram. Once tasted, never forgotten, its seeming austerity - bottled behind the plainest label of any malt I can think of - slowly gives way to what turns out to be a bit of an old sweetie. I could have used a few extra percentage points in abv: 40% seems almost niggardly these days.