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Well, this is an odd one and no mistake! A Laphroaig which has shook hands with a sherry butt after spending time knocking round with our old friends the bourbon barrel and the wee one, the quarter cask.
I distrust my nose because it's telling me honey and almonds while my heid tells me it's meant to be an Islay knuckle-dragger, reeking of peat and delivering a snoot-full of phenols. Where's the tar, not to mention the liniment? This is a Laphroaig which has been tamed and forced into a dinner jacket for goodness sakes!
Sweeter than expected, with the 'medicinal' notes kept at bay by sugar. A spoonful of sugar indeed!
And yet, as you chew away at it the layers of praline give way to ... furniture polish? ... boiled sweeties? ... cloves?
Christ this is a puzzler: in place of a leisurely sit-down with a good dram, letting your mind wander this whisky keeps drawing attention to itself - "Concentrate!" it seems to be saying. "there's all sorts of things going on here", "Sit up straight".
Ok, focus: it's delicious but daft, potty and perplexing. It's actually making me want to revisit and re-evaluate some of those strange Glenmorangie experiments with different woods which I doubt was the maker's intention.
So, closer to a Macallan than an Ardbeg. Is it worth the money? An emphatic 'yes'; it's a damn fine whisky. Would I serve it to my friends? Not to all of them, just to the more adventurous of them. Will I buy another bottle? Probably not ... I'm a hedonist and I don't want my whisky to make me think too much.
And that's just what this one does, provoking and teasing, posing questions, delivering no easy answers. At least it's helped me decide: my next bottle of whisky for sharing's going to be Ardbeg ... or Glenmo ... or ... God help me.