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In 2009 the new 18 Year Old hit the shelves, replacing the popular 15 Year Old. It is bottled at an ABV of 48%, similar to the Quarter Cask (while the 15 Year Old was bottled at 43%). Color-wise, they are nearly identical.
The nose is clean and very smoky with dry peat and moss. It reminds me of a walk in the forrest after a rain shower. Quite a bit of honey and vanilla sweetness, nicely balanced againt citrus and brine. The whole is much softer than the 15 Year Old, though. The extra years in the cask have mellowed the whisky somewhat.
On the palate, however, this is a sturdy fellow. Quite the body, indeed! Creamy. The vanilla and honey are easily overpowered by the classic Laphroaig traits: charcoal, tar, dying barbecue and seaweed. Cereal and burning wood. A mix of peppers. Quite a bit of salt. Delicious.
The finish is lingering and bittersweet, but again somewhat reserved, as if this Laffie will only dares show its true potential on the palate.
It's hard to say whether I prefer this one to its predecessor. The higher alcohol content and the fact that this one is non-chillfiltered are big plusses, as I'm sure many will agree.