The Laffie Quarter Cask first matured on bourbon barrels before being re-racked in smaller casks, that quicken the maturation. It is a release that can be found all the time, but I have noticed some batch variation – no surprise there. I first tried it in 2011 and lastly in 2014. High time to revisit it.
On the nose, this is textbook Laphroaig: peat, salt, iodine upholstered with sweet notes from butter, banana, some tea and the skin of coconut. The difference is clearly the wood, that you can actually smell here, without the whisky becoming oaky. But it certainly seems younger than earlier batches, I can even smell the barley. Having said that, it is again a lovely nose.
It is creamy, mouth coating and surprisingly sweet. Vanilla, pear drops and some citrus precede ashes and peat and some salty sea weeds. Lots of wood, now, both oak and woodsmoke. Charchoal! This works wonders.
The finish can easily be called long, with the emphasis on smoke and sweetness.
I do feel the earlier batches were a tad better, but this Laffie QC is still one helluva winter whisky.
Thanks for the review. I can confirm the rather marked difference in the QC from batch to batch. The last QC I had was in a tiny cocktail lounge and I didn’t find it very complex; its youth was apparent. Not much of that Laphroaig pear/vanilla note under the smoke. It was just barley sweetness. Not bad; I’d probably have rated it close to what you have here. But when I first tried this whisky, I feel (like you’ve indicated) that it was better, or perhaps had more mature stock in it than what’s in the bottle now.
Hence the challenge consumers face with NAS rears its head again: there is almost no reliable way to gauge consistency with NAS expressions. Not that age stated expressions are always perfect or consistent, but the age statement gives us something.