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Laphroaig, a whisky that conjures strong feelings, either of love or hate, in both the hard core whisky drinker and those just getting into whisky.
You either love it or hate it. There's not generally an "meh" factor to this bad boy.
I remember very well my first time encountering the Laphroaig 10 year old while enjoying a few drams with my father in law.
It was a bonfire in aroma and palate, taking me back to a time when vikings roamed the land, raping and pillaging and generally doing the sorts of things that vikings do.
I was chatting with the importers of Laphroaig the other day, regarding my whisky club and other fun whisky things and they mentioned this brand new Laphroaig. A Laphroaig that immediately grabbed my attention when they described it.
Five different types of cask used, No Age Statement. Pedro Ximenez seasoned hogs heads, Oloroso sherry buttes, quarter casks, first fill bourbon barrels, and new American white oak casks that have never been used before.
Coming in at 40% abv which made me a little sad, but all those casks had my interest. I reckoined this would be a complicated little beast.
So after the meeting when I got home I cracked open the bottle and immediately the sweet smell of peat filled the room, to the point where I could smell the whisky four or five feet away.
Holy crap! That bad boy has got a hell of a nose on it!
Into my special glencairn tasting glass it goes and I can still smell it.
BBQ pork, iodine, vanilla, soft peat and smoke, much softer in the smoke and peat then I thought it would be, lacking the typical peat reek that Laphroaig is known for, sea salt, mild TCP, dark fruits, cherries.
Let's try it and see what we will see!
Light smoke on the palate, again lacking the intensity you expect from Laphroaig, slight cigarette ash, vanilla, lemon candy, cinnamon and nutmeg spice.
A soft finish with some medicinal tones and lemon candy ends the whisky.
Where does one start?
Well I already know people will whinge that it's a No Age Statement whisky and that it's coming sitting at 40% abv as opposed to something higher. Two things that drive the whisky geeks nuts most of the time, and to top it off it doesn't have the monster Laphroaig intensity that you either love or hate. It actually feels like the distillery is trying to create a new whisky, more geared towards drawing new and less experienced into drinking more of the Islay style whiskies. I could be full of crap here, but it's my sneaky feeling.
And don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing at all, in fact it's a great thing as far as I'm concerned. The more people who are drinking whisky, especially the higher end whiskies, the more the distilleries will try and meet that demand, which in general leaves me a happy man!
Don't expect a knock your socks off, take your breath away, whisky in the Laphroaig Select Cask, however I personally think it's a solid quaffing whisky.