Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon refill
Additional coloring: No
Average price: € 3,500.00
Official website: www.laphroaig.com
We celebrate the 100th ‘penniless’ review on the blog with the least penniless whisky on hand (in sample, that is: don’t get any ideas). Then again, you know, consistency is the virtue of fools and, above all, that sample has been calling us for too long.
A Laphroaig 33yo, presented in Italy last December at the Milano Whisky Festival: the third release, after two 30s, in the series called ‘The Ian Hunter Story’. The subtitle, “Book 3 – The source protection”, refers to the historic victory of Ian Hunter, owner of Laphroaig from 1908 to 1944, in the dispute with his neighbours (who knows which ones…) over the ownership of the water source.
Only 60 bottles of this whisky, distilled as far back as 1987 and aged in refill ex-Bourbon barrels before being bottled at 49.9%ABV in 2021, have arrived in Italy.
We are therefore particularly grateful to Lamberto, Whisky Art’s megadirector, for the generous sample gift.
The colour is a warm gold.
On the nose, the very first impact leaves no doubt as to the distillery of origin: salted herring, seaweed, bonfire ash. A hint of tanned leather and one of wet mushrooms accompany the entry into the perceptive spectrum of a rather intense note of grapefruit, followed by impressions of dried apricots, vin santo cream and rhubarb. Even so, the sensation is one of a complex, layered olfaction that requires time and attention to be best deciphered. A fragrance that can be traced back to liquorice root presages a balsamic turn, but in reality the irremediable (and predictable, given its age) fading of the marine note is much more evident to give way to sweeter, almost honeyed scents (honeyed apricots?), among which custard stands out.
The mouthfeel is peppery, as is traditional for Laphroaig, with seaweed and ash at arm’s length, an underlying fruity sweetness (apricot) and custard nuances. The citrus zest is matched by plenty of peach in syrup, while even on the palate, as time passes, the marine note gradually fades away, entrusting the proscenium of taste to sweeter hints, eggnog in particular.
In the finish, the smokiness is fully accomplished: impressions of fruit in syrup and custard remain on the palate (further back).
A prestigious, sophisticated and satisfying whisky that expresses at its best what Laphroaig is capable of in the long run. A sensory experience that proves to be, as in the finest examples of this distillate, a journey through time and aromas of rare beauty.