So I’ve been saving these up for awhile, as who doesn’t everyone enjoy a multi-review from a verbose nerd who loves the sound of his own words?
That’s what I thought, you LOVE IT.
Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve had Laphroaig. And there’s a reason for that. It costs a shit ton here in Canada.
Also it’s hard to find in bars.
But for real, Laphroaig is a good distillery, and I’m not going to bash it, yet I’ll admit it is not my favourite Islay distillery: It falls to a strong 5th place on Islay. And that’s not a bad thing. When you get in fights with Olympic level fighters, 5th is still awesome, even if you don’t get your name on a plaque and a shiny metal disk.
So yeah, I’m okay with the 10 year (it’s pretty decent), the Quarter Cask is really tasty, and the 18 is a very nice dram. Not to mention the Battlehill 13 is another, very tasty dram. I also like that Laphroaig isn’t afraid to put out a 48%. So they do some things great.
Anyway, the real question today, for my 200th review, is: Outside of the main offerings, how does Laphroaig stand up?
Because we’re always asking ourselves that about every distillery. Special, sometimes NAS editions are here to stay. They make money. They try new things. They play to our deepest desire to hunt things out, either through multiple trips and sorting, or learning everything we can, or even just the idea of tracing one across state/province/country/territory/intergalactic borders.
And some of them continue, growing past the point of special, or others become special, because they are cancelled. I’ve included them as well.
Let’s see if Laphroaig is jumping on the bandwagon, or if they are really heartfelt in these special editions.
Laphroaig Triple Wood
So I’m at Feather’s. It’s a week I’m taking off. Relaxing. Mostly just chilling out, enjoying myself, writing, having a dram a day. It’s the midst of Fan Expo. On a Saturday. Which was nuts. I need to pick a third, last, not TOO expensive dram.
And I’ve been hankering quite a bit of for some unique finishes.
Well, what’s better than just one finish? Why Three Finishes! That’s where Laphroaig Triple Wood comes in. Also I wanted to save some money during this very consumer-centric nerd-a-thon.
But think about it: Three Finishes! Without saying what they are, or using any of your brain to remember, seriously! Three finishes! Sure, I didn’t like Dalmore King Al the Third, but that’s Dalmore, so are we surprised? And this isn’t 16 finishes like that one (Editor note: that’s sarcasm), it’s just three!
Only after did I find out the three: First ex-Bourbon, selected from multiple vintages that are well suited (their words, not mine), second is Quarter Cask, and then finally a Sherry European Oak cask (Oloroso Sherry Cask).
So… that’s interesting. I typically like a Double Wood, and I like the Quarter Cask, so what could go wrong?
Price: N/A in Ontario
Nose: Peat, red apples, lime, campfire, strawberry, caramel
So it starts out very similar to the 10 year. Given a blind tasting, I won’t lie: I wouldn’t have any idea this isn’t the 10 year, barring some fruit notes. And faint fruit notes at that.
Like that one Aunt. You know, she’s nice, she’s great, knits for needy kids, but also knows the names of every single Boss fight in the first 6 Final Fantasy games, and probably is better at original Starcraft then you? Yet you don’t notice until later in life, and she’s cool, yet still says “That’s nice” when you talk about what’s wrong with the Jays starting pitcher.
Taste: Cherry, peat, tobacco, cocoa, anise, plum, sea salt, cinnamon
The sherry influence is here now. It’s nice, though not really adding too much. Like my commentary between my notes.
I’m a big boy, I know.
Finish: Peat, currant, sparkling strawberry wine, cedar smoke, caramel
And now the sherry is taking over everything. It’s shown up, has put down roots, and has run anything else in this whisky to a reservation, just to show up for some Casino commercials.
There’s also a young element at the end that turns me off a little.
Conclusion: So I enjoy this experiment, and think it’s a tiny bit better than the 10 year. That said, should I pay a premium for something that is +8% Abv. and has lots of promises? No. It’s unbalanced towards the sherry cask, I can’t really tell the effect, if any, the Quarter Cask did, and at the end of the day, it’s just okay.
This probably should have stayed a travel exclusive, as I assume it had more balance when it was less produced.
Laphroaig 15 year
Thanks to /u/jimvarney01 for this dram!
Firefly. Family Guy. The Tick: The Animated Series. Veronica Mars. Undergrads. The Pete Holmes Show. The Arsenio Hall Show. Community. Clone High. Invader Zim. Futurama.
At some point, we’ve watched some show that was cancelled. And it sucked, because we liked that show.
This is an odd case for me. I like the whisky that replaced Laphroaig 15 year. I mean, that’s never happened before. I sure as fuck am not watching whatever is replacing Community on NBC (I know it was picked up by Yahoo), mostly because I have no idea what it is. And I haven’t really liked a lot of the cartoons since the ones that went away.
Maybe I’m just old? Well, that goes without saying. At least I have Adventure Time.
My own age aside, I don’t know how I’m going to react to something that was replaced by something I like. This will be interesting.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: Caramel sauce
Nose: Creme brulee, peat, rich caramel, medicinal, sea air, plum, violets
Really rich nose on this one. Also, as time goes on, there’s a little bit of fruit and floral notes.
Wait, if after 15 years there are already deep, rich fruity/floral notes, why finish the triple wood in Oloroso casks? I guess for different notes, however it makes me wonder.
Taste: Peat, chocolate, raspberry, oak, basil, allspice
Good, again rich notes, with some spice and oak to balance it out. Not as crazy as some older drams, yet still nice, complex enough, and I’m enjoying it quite a bit.
No wonder it got cancelled. Does Fox own Laphroaig?
Finish: Raisins, rum cream sauce, Juicy Fruit gum, peat, bacon, brine
Almost reminds me of a rum finish. Long finish, and the peat is nicely evolved. The Brine is like that one buff guy at a weight watchers meeting, completely out of place.
Wait, does Laphroaig have rum casks? Note to self if I’m ever rich enough to buy two ex-rum casks and two casks of Laphroaig Cask Strength, this could be awesome.
Conclusion: So I’ve re-reviewed my review of the 18 year old. And I’ve compared it to what I said, after reviewing this one, with Laphroaig 15 year.
I hate to be the dissenting opinion (Editor’s note: No you don’t.) However I think that the 18 is an improvement of the 15 year. It ends up developing those notes more, and is more complex.
That said, I still think the 15 is a good dram. They’ve made a 43% dram, that is 3 years younger, taste almost as good as a +5% Abv. 18 year old dram. It’s tasty. It has elements of rum, and fruit, and even Lowland floral notes. I’d say pick up a bottle, because damn, this is tasty, and goes to show you that this distillery is well worth your time. And liver space.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #148
Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin
Thanks to the person who made this swap happen (they’ve been asked not to be mentioned) for this swap!
So I’d be remiss if I talked about some (not all) of the special editions if I didn’t try mentioned and review some of the (not all) Cairdeas offerings.
But first: What the heck is Cairdeas? Well it’s the word for Friendship in Gaelic. Make sense? Not really. Well, it was made for the distillery’s popular friends program. And comes out during the Feis Ile festival as a special edition. It’s been going on since 2008.
So we’ll start with Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin. This is from Feis Ile 2012. It’s NAS. There’s rumors that half of it spent 7 years in Quarter casks and the other half in refill ex-bourbon casks for 13-21 years.
So that’s a little crazy. A cask strength Quarter Cask/Hybrid Laphroaig? This could end up bad.
Let’s see how it tastes.
Price: N/A in Ontario anymore… (dammit should have bought it)
Nose: Peat, pear, lilac, nutmeg, sea air, prickly, kiwi, roasted pine nuts
Quite prickly. The floral notes in the 15 year is showing up again, yet the additional Abv. has added to it and ramps it up quite a bit. There’s also a nutty note here.
So far, not shit. I’m impressed, this is nice and strong. My wife is not a fan.
Taste: Nutmeg, peat, cocoa, sugared lemon rind, cinnamon, pepper steak, peach, chocolate milk
If you don’t like spices, or overtly spiced things, with an earthy mixture, you’d better walk away. Like my wife did (from the whisky, not me, I’m not single, don’t PM me your boobs/dicks/boob dicks).
There’s a chocolate milk note that Laphroaig comes up with after awhile. It eventually takes over here, and the other notes kinda take a back seat to it. However before that, it’s tasty.
Finish: Peanut, salt air, anise, curry powder, peach cobbler, vanilla, smoke
It finishes with a lot of nutty, spicy, and sweet notes. All well built up. It’s a good mixture of young, ovaries to the oak strength with some complexity to edge out the usual issues with youth.
Well, other than the fact that your frontal lobe doesn’t develop until you hit 25 and thus you aren’t able to calmly approach all situations without it going through your emotional center of your mind. But that more so applies to people and thankfully not whisky, luckily.
Conclusion: This is really tasty. It’s a good blend of youth and age, it has some complexity to it, and I really, really wish I bought a bottle when I found it.
That said, it’s not setting off memories. It’s a definite buy, it’s tasty, and at times it’ll burn the shit out of you or send random spices mixed with sweetness that kinda doesn’t work. I can’t really bash it too much, I can only say that there is better.
Laphroaig Cairdeas Portwood 2013
Thanks to /u/Lord-of-the-manor for this hard to find dram.
Are you new here? If so, then you don’t remember the sheer, ball gargling, house shopping love that comes from this whisky. Hell, it’s still here.
And if I was more Hipster-esque, then seriously I’d be annoyed. However I’m not. just because something is popular doesn’t mean it sucks or doesn’t suck or etc, etc. Oog is amazing. Tobermory isn’t that great (Editor’s Note: To me). Two good examples of popular things I both agree and disagree with.
And if you feel that anything popular isn’t for you automatically, I just have to say the following: All the cool kids are breathing.
I need to hand in my opinion. This could end up being the thing I hate.
Anyway, continuing on with the Friendship series, we have the 2013 Feis Ile offering, Laphroaig Cairdeas Portwood 2013, which frankly, I’m surprised I ever received. Every trade, hunt, and generally begging, failed, until I finally received it.
Twas a good day.
Anyway, this is a ex-Bourbon cask whisky that is finished in port pipes. And if that doesn’t sell you, then check your pulse, and then realize you may not like port, and that’s okay.
Colour: Ruby maroon walnut
Nose: Plum, BBQ chicken, mesquite, dates, strawberry, mint, mustard seed, ginger, spruce trees in spring
Wow. Lots of complexity. Tons of fruit. Much spices.
Funny doge’s aside, this nose is one of the best I’ve encountered in a long time. The Peat and salt air from Laphroaig have developed these intricate flavours and spices and holy shit this is good.
Taste: Licorice, strawberry, currant, peat, black cherry, cola, Salish
Not a shitty Black cherry soda either: No, I’m talking full on, tasty, real cane sugar, costs too damn much, fuck I can’t have caffeine, but I want it, Black Cherry soda.
Damn I miss pop.
I’ll admit, the nose is still better than the taste, yet this is a sweet, tasty dram.
Finish: Being at the beach by the ocean, eucalyptus, cinnamon, nutmeg, rhubarb, watermelon, smoke, strawberry
It’s odd: I lived on an island as a kid, and my mom left eucalyptus in the front hall, so I am reminded of the smell and walking into my childhood home, yet mixed with being at the beach, and I lived nowhere near a beach nor by the ocean.
So I’m confused.
Yet this is tasty. Complex fruit, tons of smoke, and yet it retains that Laphroaig identity.
Conclusion: Well… believe the hype… wait, but I’m part of the hype now, so… uh… believe me?
Go try this yourself. It’s tasty. They have taken Laphroaig, evolved the different elements (brine, peat, medicinal), added in additional flavours from the port, and balanced it all. It set off memories, and has a great depth of flavour.
And yes, I’m nitpicking saying it’s not as amazing as some other whiskies I have had, however it’s up there as one of the best. Buy this if you can.
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014
Thanks to /u/usquebaugh_ for this dram!
So we did last year’s Cairdeas, which was amazing, and one of the better “new” drams I’ve had in a long time, this must be better, right?
And thus why I am doing these reviews, because hard to find bottles are always a roll of the dice. You never know if something is going to be really nice (see above) or really shitty (see later albums from Metallica).
Up next, Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014. They start with first-fill ex-Bourbon casks and then finished for one year in Amontillado hogsheads.
Now you might be asking: What the fucking hell does any of that mean? Where are my pants? Why can’t I juggle? Why does my kid cry at night?
Well, let me answer some of your questions.
First-fill ex-bourbon means that the cask was used for bourbon, shipped to Islay, and then used for this dram. This allows more of the vanilla and sweetness to enter into the whisky. Bourbon casks reduce over time compared to sherry casks, so this is a good thing.
Amontillado is a sherry. It’s characterized as being darker than Fino and lighter than Oloroso. Sherry is a fortified wine, and in this case, it’s made in Spain. Not details though, however sherry’s influence on a cask is harder to diminish, so it shouldn’t matter as much.
Colour: Dull orange
Nose: Orange rind, peat, strawberry, sea air, sugared cranberries, vanilla
So it looks like Orange, and smells like bitter orange, and then the sugared elements of the bourbon show up and say nothing, because elements don’t communicate. Though they do balance it out.
Oh, and to answer your question, your pants are probably on your legs, or on the floor. All depends on where you work, what time it is, and if you live in a glass house.
Taste: Tequila, orange juice, prickly, ginger, chili flakes, C-plus soda, chocolate milk
Not shitty, shooting tequila; like good, properly aged silver tequila. Which isn’t the first time I’ve had something like that. It’s way too prickly too; detracts.
And that chocolate milk has shown back up again, and taken over. It’s too bad, because it was growing into an interesting orange/tequila flavour.
You can’t juggle because you haven’t practiced enough. As this isn’t /r/juggle, I’m assuming you can’t. If you can, great. Note that it only really helps if you are picking up at a ren fair. Or trying to distract your boss.
Finish: Mushroom, orange, campfire, medicine, peat, cocoa
Earth. Do you like earth? Cause it’s a mouth full of ash and dirt. Dirt, dirt, orange, dirt. I don’t mind earth, but this is unbalanced.
What a surprise? A peated, known to be earth whisky, mixed with an earthy spirit finished whisky.
Your kid cries out for a plethora of reasons, all detailed by people who know way more than I do. It sucks, I hope it gets better, and this is one of the hundreds of reasons I’m not having kids. Maybe a muzzle will help.
Conclusion: It was a nice idea. In theory, it should work out great. Everyone likes Laphroaig PX. So they should be trying other types of sherry.
And just look at it! It glows orange, and tastes of oranges! That’s pretty cool. A nice amount of acidity to bring out the different smoky elements and add to a tequila like flavoured: On paper, I’d agree to it in a second.
That said, it just doesn’t work that well. The orange is bashed to the side, and the finish is unbalanced. The nose is nice, but not great. Nice try, and I look forward to next years. Good luck next time, and I hope it turns out better in the future.
Laphroaig PX Cask
Special thanks to /u/ourknownto for a nice sized sample of this dram. I’ve been looking forward to it!
And finally we have another darling of /r/scotch, recommended quite a bit, Laphroaig PX Cask. This shares quite a few similarities with the triple wood: Each of these whiskies are triple oaked, and each use both Bourbon and Quarter casks as part of it.
The main difference is the type of sherry in the final casks. Triple Wood uses Oloroso, which is darker than the Amontillado sherry (see above), and has less of a yeasty taste of fino sherries, where as Pedro Ximénez sherry is a sweet, dark, strong-ass (technical term) dessert sherry.
So it’s just one little thing, right? Well… maybe. Triple Wood may use older sherry casks. Or maybe newer. Sherry casks don’t lose their taste as quickly, so that may not do much. We’ll have to see.
So, as I enjoy the latest Doctor Who episode in the dark, let’s see if this is my darling as well.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Nose: Sour cherry, lemon, peat, salty, anise, clove, fizzy pop bubbles, light caramel
It’s really alive. Not “I’m secretly a cannibal and am drinking blood that has electricity running through it’s alive or Dusk till Dawn alive drinking, this has some balls/ovaries/whatever genitalia you want to it.
Not actual genitalia.
The PX is holding up a lot better than the Oloroso or Amontillado did. It takes the forefront, and adds that much needed spice that Laphroaig sometimes forgets.
Taste: Strawberry, ash, peat, brine, cranberry, lemon peel, cream, nutmeg
Yeah, the campfire is there, and someone put some cedar in it, so you’ve got smoke and ash in your throat. What else do we expect from Laphroaig?
Very creamy. And there’s no chocolate milk barging in, taking over. Quite nice. Not too over the top on complexity, though nice.
Finish: Anise, black cherry, ash, club soda, basil, earth, lemon, oregano
Finishes with the same earthiness that I’ve come to expect from a sherried whisky, without overdoing it too much. Still has some character from before. Didn’t get left out, like that one little nice kid in To Kill a Mockingbird, who defends Scout in class from the Eule boy and then never shows up again. Waste of a character, if you ask me.
Conclusion: This is very, very similar in taste, texture, and nose to Lagavulin 16. It’s creamy, not too strong, has some nice dark fruit notes, and finishes with some earthniness. It’s not as ballsy as Lagavulin 16, which is nice. Basically they are both very similar, and you can’t go wrong with one if you like the other. Solid from start to finish, with just some moments where the taste missed the mark.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #149
101 Whiskies to try before you die review #41
Scotch review #195-200, Islay review #47-52, Whisky Network reviews #275-280