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Laphroaig distillery (the name means "the beautiful hollow by the broad bay") was established in 1815, by Alex and Donald Johnston. It was sold to Long John International in the 1960ies and subsequently became part of Allied Domecq. Today the distillery is owned by Beam Suntory, the American subsidiary of Japan's Suntory Holdings. Laphroaig Quarter Cask was first released in 2004. It is matured in two types of American oak casks, first in standard ex-bourbon barrels before then being transferred to quarter casks that ensure increased contact with the oak and are said to create the soft edge that Quarter Cask is so well known for.
The nose is phenolic and sweetly smoky at the start, then vanilla and banana flavours appear, followed by notes of apple. Towards the end the smoke gains in intensity and becomes quite sooty.
The palate is medium-bodied and surprisingly creamy. There is some vanilla at first, then more and more smoke appears, coming in waves over the tongue. After that I detected sweet wood spice and hints of coconut.
The finish is long and warming. The vanilla flavours are back, together with a touch of chocolate.
This Laphroaig expression has been a part of my whisky cabinet for a number of years now. Although I usually prefer the punchier, 'slap-in-your-face' bottlings, Quarter Cask has become a favourite due to the way it got its harsh corners knocked off. Its mellow and soft nature goes very well together with the smoky and sooty elements, and it is overall a superbly balanced single malt. Good stuff from Laphroaig, particularly on a cold and rainy afternoon.