A nifty little Laphroaig that never quite made it to our shores. Well…that’s not entirely true, of course, or I’d not be sharing notes here. But…where there’s a will (and crafty friends), there’s a way. In this case, via a mate who somehow maneuvered his way into possessing a couple of bottles. Fortunately, he’s also a generous soul.
This one strikes a chord with me for one important reason, and it isn’t a sentimental one. It has to do with the craft of bottling a good spirit at a good state of development. In other words, picking the fruit when it’s ripe. This 16 year is the epitome of beautiful cask/spirit interaction. The oak is lean and firm; the spirit is at a perfect age, rich and fruity. You can tell that the big estery notes are being checked by the creaminess and soft spices of the barrel. Brilliant balance.
All I can say is, bless the man or woman who discovered just what a barrel could do to Scottish spirit. And bless the exciseman who made the illicit distillers run from hill to hill with their spirit hastily bunged up in wee casks. Assuming all those romantic Scottish tales we’ve heard are true, of course.
48% abv. 11,500 bottles. 1st Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels.
Thanks to my mate, Ben, for the drams of this guy, and the photo below.
Nose: Instantly, blindly, recognizable as Laphroaig. Very clean and elegant. Orange and lime. Honeydew and tangerine. Sea spray. Almond and just-scraped vanilla bean. Minerally, coastal notes. A little bit boggy and earthy. Some grassy notes. Tongue depressors and chest rub. Phenols have mellowed beautiful.
Palate: Big and oily. Blood orange with anise or maybe just fennel. Starfruit, candied orange peel, gooseberry. Getting non-too-subtle hints of the bourbon influence here, and it is entirely complimentary. Salt licorice. More of that oomphy Laphroaig smoke than the nose hints at. A bit of a sour fruit tang, which I like a lot.
Finish: Long and full of tannins, oak and that neat marriage of ju-jubes and wine gums I get in a lot of Laphroaig. Still a fair bit of citrus too.
Thoughts: Frustratingly, right in my wheelhouse. Frustrating, of course, due to lack of (local) availability. But we can’t have ’em all, aye? Hopefully, the age statement gap that Laphroaig is currently managing (mismanaging?) can be closed. The leap from 10 to 25 in the range is a bit challenging for those of us who were rather keen on the mid-rangers. (And please let’s not discuss the NAS’ers)