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I bought this bottle of Triple Wood and opened on October 13th of 2011. I have tasted it, taking notes, on 11/11/11 (83), May of 2012 (84), and July of 2013 (83.5). Over two years now I have noticed very little change in this bottle. If anything it has slightly improved . . . but not in a way to boost my rating of the bottle.
Nose: Much sweeter then the 10yo – no surprise. Very subdued peat. Dark red fruits greet the nose and then there is this underlying power that is typical Laphroaig. A dark berry mix with a hint of coco. Strangely it reminds me of Ardmore or a peated BenRiach. There is that peat fire, but it is subdued behind the fruit. The fruit really seems to push everything down a notch or two. It is like someone took a huge mound of peat and shoved it down into a well where the sides are made of sherry soaked oak. There is that mossy earthiness that the 10yo has but it is really rounded and held at arm’s length. Oddly this give the nose a nice layered effect that seem to indicate complexity and age (but I’m not sure if either are there . . .) Now I am really getting that sweet candied fruit note (candied cherries?)
Taste: Sweet sherry hits the front with very rounded peat in the back all held together by oak. There are rounded fruits (an odd berry mixture and baked apples) along with charred drift wood and smoke with an odd slightly off note . . . only hints at it . . . now there is peat and fire on the back. Almost too little power at 48%.
Finish: Nice intake of breath followed by a gigantic wave of peat and the ocean. More of that medicinal thing I get from the 10yo, but kicked up a notch by the sherry influence. It is long and bracing . . . not bad for 48%! But far from my favorite Laphroaig finish. It is longer then the 10yo, but there is something slightly off about it . . . maybe not off; but something is fighting with the peat and typical Laphroaig dirty earth.
Complexity, Balance: More complex then the 10yo, but the least well balanced of the Laphroaig line. There is a constant battle in the nose, the taste, and the finish. At no point do I feel like a harmony was achieved between the peat and sherry. I am shocked this made it past duty free. I can only hope the QC version doesn’t make it out of duty free.
Aesthetic experience: Not a bad looking bottle. I enjoy the 48%, the crest of the Prince of Wales, and a proudly displayed “non-chill filtered” beneath a taste full “Triple Wood” label. I would be tempted again with the look and ABV. However, I doubt I would by a second bottle.
Conclusion: I am glad to have tried this bottle. I have just decanted it into a small 50mL sample bottle to save for a reference. If you love sherry and peat then this is a good bottle to try. However, I think it misses the mark as a Laphroaig. It basically takes what is great about the Laphroaig Quarter Cask and masks it with sherry. I think the result is a pleasant enough dram this is a bit confused and muted. I think Ardbeg’s strategy with Uigeadail is far more successful. That said, my "muted" might be subtle brilliance to you.
I have had a bottle of Laphroaig 30yo (which was matured in sherry casks). My opinion (only my opinion) is that Laphroaig doesn’t tend to work well with sherry. I have heard great things about a 27yo Laphroaig matured in sherry . . . but that sounds more like the exception then the rule. For me, next time I will skip the Triple wood and buy more 10yo Cask Strength batches or the Quarter Cask.