Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing cask: Ex-Sherry Oloroso
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Morrison Distillers
Average price: € 85.00
Official website: www.morrisondistillers.com
The few times Laphroiag is bottled by independents, it changes its name to Williamson. The reasons for this are of a legal nature, although today, thinking of the growing desire for transparency on the part of some distilleries which openly inform consumers about the percentages of whisky coming from one cask or another and even about the quality of barley used, these scruples really do seem to come from another era. The choice of the name Williamson, on the other hand, is a tribute to Elizabeth “Bessie” Williamson (1910-1982), historic director of Laphroiag in the 1960s.
Today we have the opportunity to taste a Williamson from the “Strictly Limited” series of Càrn Mòr, the Morrison Distillers label that over time, thanks to its high level offerings, has earned considerable credit among enthusiasts. This is a 10yo aged entirely in hogshead ex-Oloroso Sherry, distilled in 2010 and bottled in 2020 at 47.5% ABV, without chillfiltration and in its natural colour, in a total of 1,139 bottles.
Not to be confused with another, more recent Williamson from Càrn Mòr, however, 1,052 bottles of which were bottled in 2021 and are more readily available.
The colour is that of wildflower honey.
On the nose, the medicinal note typical of Laphroaig is more “rounded”, as if the ex-Sherry casks had smoothed out its edges: less disinfectant and more cigarette, with a discreet sprinkling of black pepper and an evocative undertone of dark chocolate. The sweetness translates into an impression of millefeuille cake and one of cappuccino, with a curious nuance of liquorice binding them together. As the minutes pass, we detect a floral fragrance that completes a rather interesting olfactory profile.
On the palate Laphroiag also shows a revised and corrected version, with cigarette and black pepper in the front row and a little further away a spicy clove base, a handful of coffee powder, a slightly softer liquorice note, a bite of plum and a memory, quite adolescent as far as we are concerned, of Rossana candies.
The finish is long and peppery, with a distant mirage of plum again.
With a few rare exceptions, the first concern of a good independent bottler is to preserve the “signature” of the distillery and then return it faithfully to the drinker, without distorting the profile but perhaps adding a few new nuances. In this case the result is fully successful, both in terms of the aromatic richness and the balance of the whole, with Laphroiag that doesn’t abdicate its identity, but allows itself to be gently taken by the hand by the casks.