Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex Bourbon
Additional coloring: Yes
Average price: € 35.00
Official website: www.laphroaig.com
Laphroaig again, this time the younger brother that after passing through the usual ex-Bourbon casks, has been resting for a few months in smaller than normal casks (hence its name), which should lead to a greater influence of wood aromas. Age not stated, but should be around 5/6 years.
Compared to the 10 year old, the spirit has not been chillfiltered, which is useful for “cleaning” the whisky before bottling, so it may be slightly cloudy at lower temperatures (but if you keep it at room temperature you probably won’t notice any difference, unless you live in the North Pole).
Some say that chillfiltering, by depriving the distillate of some of its oils, also affects its richness: whether this is true or not, personally the less they put their hands on it the more honest the end result is, for better or worse.
Unchillfiltered but, unfortunately, still with caramel colouring, so the straw yellow in the glass is absolutely fake (you can see how much this annoys me, can’t you?).
Just by opening the bottle you get a powerful whiff of smoke, intense and pungent, and if you don’t like peat-based spirits, you put the bottle away immediately to clean the motorbike engine. However, if you take your time to smell it in the glass, you’ll discover that there is much more than tarry peat: marine and medicinal scents (well, it’s Laphroaig) that veer towards the sugary, like charred marshmallows on the hearth. You get the alcohol content, but just to make the smoke more substantial and pungent. As it airs out, the alcohol calms down, the sweet and salty notes tame the peat and it becomes less aggressive.
On the palate, BAM!, there’s immediately a big, tough tar punch, enclosed in a sweet-savoury glove that seems to want to reassure you after the blow, except when you realise in the long run that the 48 degrees are all there and quite lively. There’s also some wood (those barrels must have been used for something) and vanilla, spices and the trademark of the hospital ward. As you continue drinking (and therefore aerating the glass), the alcohol is tamed (but not too much), the medicinal peat softens and mingles with the brackish.
The finish is long, with all the aromas lingering on your palate as you try to work off the alcohol which, you may not have realised, has given you quite a jolt.
Personally, I really like this bottle, a rougher and stronger version of the 10 years old and at the same time sweeter, perhaps in an attempt to make it more pleasing. Of course, if you don’t like the notes of Laphroaig then you’ll really hate this one, but if you like your whiskies tough and don’t have an Ardbeg on your hands, this is a good choice, cheap and easy to find.