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Since I’ve been reviewing all the popular drams lately, I would be remiss to not include the ol’ QC. It’s a classic by any standard, and shame on me for taking so long to get around to it. It’s not the most balanced, the peatiest, the most complex, or the most refined whisky to be found. For me it’s a beautiful dram for one main reason; it embodies the Laphroaig style. There are a few distilleries that I like just because they’re THEM. Highland Park, Bunnahabhain, Old Pulteney, Laphroaig (and a few others) are worthy of distinction in my book. They aren’t always the best whiskies (although they often are), but their ‘house styles’ are quite characteristic and they have managed to set themselves apart from the crowd, flavour-wise. But that’s just my opinion, of course. Here are the tasting notes.
Nose: Lots of that beautifully gentle Laphroaig sweetness. There’s a cola quality within that sweetness. Salty? Yes. But not as much as you’d expect. Vanilla, malt, and something faintly banana.
Palate: Creamy arrival. Honey, ginger, crème brûlée and vanilla give this dram a cream soda-like quality. Oak, peat, damp earth, cereal, and more of that lovely sweetness. There’s a bit of pepper and spice, but this stuff is so creamy that the spice has no sting at all. Smooth as silk.
Finish: Roasted nuts, salt, oak, cream, and a bit of ash. The oak is drying and bitter, but the oaky character doesn’t consume the whisky, at least not for me. A medium-long finish with the soft honey continuing to present itself.
I’ve come to love the QC and I’ve come to love Laphroaig overall. There’s something about Laphroaig that floats my boat. In my review of the 10 I mentioned that it evolves and changes a great deal, but never stops being delicious. The same is true of the QC. Been open for about 4 months now and it’s lost some of its original kick. BUT… I can’t decide if that’s a bad thing because the softer side of this whisky is also fantastic. I can’t say I feel the same way about Ardbegs or Lagas after several months of being open.
While it’s certainly more intensely oaked and ‘ashier’ than the 10, I like it just as much. But despite the added abv, I would still argue that this walks the line between a light sipper and a peat monster, particularly after time has worked its magic. Of course, many would argue that it’s a powerful whisky above all else. But to me, Laphroaig’s beautiful silky honey note can ‘tame’ the peat in a way that no other Islay distillery can. Although it IS very peated and it markets itself as such, there’s more to this than just a blast of earth and smoke. This stuff is oaky, vanilla-y, sweet, and silky smooth. It’s a superb whisky. Now I just need to get my hands on a bottle of that beautiful cask strength 10…