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Laphroaig Quarter Cask has been a staple of my whisky cabinet for the last 4 or 5 years. I'm surprised I haven't reviewed it yet. Laphroaig's John Campbell explains that usage of the quarter cask (125 litres, a quarter of the size of a sherry cask) dates back to the 19th century. The smaller casks were easier for two men to load onto a pack horse and transport to wherever it needed to go. While Laphroaig Quarter Cask is a no age statement whisky, Campbell says the vattings of Quarter Cask are made up of 5 to 11 year old whiskies matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks which are then re-casked into first-fill ex-bourbon quarter casks for 7 to 12 months. While us whisky geeks would love to see the exact breakdown of the whiskies included in each batch, the information Campbell shares is better than what we get from most distilleries regarding NAS whisky. I'll spare you all another rant about honesty and transparency. Here are my tasting notes:
Neat from a Glencairn
- Nose: smoke, iodine, a bit mossy, damp oak, rich dark toffee, vanilla, espresso
- Palate: rich texture, medicinal, ashy, toasted oak, cinnamon and black pepper, floral vanilla, a slight hint of pears
- Finish: long yet drying, warming, tobacco ash, espresso, dark chocolate, a bit tarry near the end, lovely. Quarter Cask strikes an excellent balance between sweet and peat flavours. Its flavours are a bit on the darker side of the spectrum, so if you like bright, citrusy-type flavours, this isn't the droid you're looking for.
- Rating: 91/100
With Water from a Glencairn
- Nose: iodine-forward, lots of brine, smoke pushed back a bit, vanilla, toffee, pears
- Palate: much fruitier on arrival, then toffee, smoke, ash, black pepper, slightly waxy, more pears
- Finish: long yet drying, salty, warming, vanilla, toffee, oak, some ash lingering but not as dark with water added. It's not necessarily better or worse with water, rather it's a different experience.
- Rating: 90/100
This whisky has been a consistent favourite of mine for a long time. And consistent is the operative word. I've had some bottles that are a bit smokier than others, or a bottles where the dark chocolate notes are more prominent, but I've never had a bad bottle. The only potential downside is that it's way too easy to drink and the bottles tend to, ahem evaporate, a little too quickly. Sadly, Laphroaig Quarter Cask has been creeping up in price here in Ontario consistently as well. I believe the first bottle of QC I bought cost me about $60, and that was about 5 years ago. It now runs $85-$90. Not exactly a bargain, but not the worst value for money when you consider Quarter Cask is bottled at 48% abv.
- Would I accept a glass if someone offered me one? Yes
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Without hesitation
- Would I buy another bottle? I'm surprised I haven't done so already.