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This is a bottle I bought and opened in May of 2013. I have scored it now 4 times (87, 86, 87, 88). So my average score for this particular bottle is an 87.
Again, whenever I score I whisky I always taste it up against 3 others for perspective. Some whiskies I find I score higher or lower based on the selection that night. However, Laphroaig always seems to be consistent for me no matter what I am drinking it next to (be it a boring Glen-something-or-other, a young Kilchoman, an old Ardbeg, or a beautiful Brora). In my book that is quite amazing.
Nose: Big earthy peat. Like sticking you head in an earthen peat bog. Lovely. After the earthy peat subsides you get some medicinal notes (antiseptic, gauze, Band-Aids). Now back to lush trees in a damp forest just after the rain, but there is a bonfire burning just over the horizon . . . right by the sea. Dark, green and peaty. This is the least sweet malt in the Laphroaig line . . . and I can get behind that. For once I swear I am getting mango and pineapple? With water more of that sharp mango and pineapple – crazy, this is new smell for me with Laphroaig 10yo . . . (this note only happened on one tasting night).
Taste: Nice peat arrival: peat, earth, and muddy wood. This is definitely not sweet like Ardbeg. This is a dry and borderline bitter malt (but NOT bitter). Feels like I am gargling mossy brackish river water.
Finish: Big peat blast followed by the long slow intake of breath . . . now the shocking attack of sea salt . . . funny still getting mango (every so subtle). The peat is really the star in this malt with the smoke only emerging here near the end. That peat fire rages for an age and a bit. Yup, getting that brief leftover tropical fruit note at the end. Different . . . I even like it.
Balance, Complexity: This is really a wonderful 10yo, and extremely consistent (way more so then Ardbeg 10yo). This guy is never going to achieve the heights that Ardbeg has the potential for, but then it never seems to misstep like the Ardbeg TEN either. It really has these three notes: earthy peat, wood, and medicine. As for balance . . . it is consistent. You would never guess this was older then 10 years . . . sometimes Ardbeg TEN can fool you . . .
Aesthetic experience: I love this bottle’s aesthetic, and will be sad when it changes. It has that old 70’s feel to it. Green bottle, white label . . . not the best looking of the big three, but it does it well (prince Charlie puts it over the top with his warrant). I love having this as my everyday bottle.
Conclusion: This specific bottle was every bit as consistent as the last several have been. The odd mango note only appeared on one occasion. I never found it again. I leave the note in here because I think it goes to show that some nights your mind and nose tune into certain frequencies. Who knows, maybe that subtle fruity mango note is always there in Laphroaig and I am just not tuned in . . . but I doubt it. More likely I think once your mind fixates on a certain smell (like mago, or match sticks, or bananas) it is really hard to get away from that idea – and so you keep smelling and tasting it. This is why I am skeptical of samples. Because occasionally I get fixated on certain smells that might not always show up when I reach for that bottle again.
Laphroaig 10yo conclusion: 3 bottles over 3 years with a total of 13 scores ranging from 82-88. I scored it 86 on seven occasions, 87 on three nights, and an 88, 84 and 82 one time each. That leaves an average score of 85.923 for all three bottles (87 for this particular one) Yes, I think I’ll have another.