Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Additional coloring: No
Average price: € 80.00
Official website: www.laphroaig.com
All lovers of Laphroaig (and not only) have a soft spot for this series, where the distillery’s ten year old gets to show off all its charms thanks to the full strength and its unrestrained nature.
An annual edition that, strangely enough, in 2021 saw two very close releases: the thirteenth distributed in January and this fourteenth just five months later, in June.
Some have speculated it is a choice linked to John Campbell’s departure from the distillery to become Distillery Manager at Lochlea, with the 15th bottling released at the end of 2021.
Same formula as always, maturation in ex-Bourbon barrels and cask strength (same strength as batch 11, for the record).
Quite high strength but alcohol completely absent on the nose, where notes of nutmeg and roasted nuts (pine nuts, peanuts, macadamia) intertwine with Catalan cream, barbecue sauce, blood orange and the characteristic medicinal vein. Peat veers towards sweetness, little ash and more smoothness albeit with some rough accents, an accent of resin and molasses emerges along the length with some splashes of ocean. Very inviting indeed. With the addition of water, the mineral and coastal part gains ground to the detriment of the sweet part, putting the accent on nuts and citrus fruits, zeroing the smoky part: better without.
Pungent on the palate, you get the alcoholic strength but it’s not invasive, opening the door to the ash and embers that were missing on the nose. Pleasantly oily on the palate, the sweeter component remains firmly rooted and, with plenty of black pepper, continues to excel, leaving behind more sour and even bitter impressions, with a hint of balsamic that sails through the flavours. Iodine and disinfectant diluted in the ocean season nuts and citrus fruits. With water, citrus and salt are accentuated and liquorice root appears, ash sharper at the bottom: in general, less sweet and more sour.
Long, salty finish on toasted caramel, burnt wood, citrus, a hint of liquorice.
Comparing it with its brother with the same strength, we are on a different planet, a variation on the Laphroaig theme that emphasises different aspects revealing all the richness of the distillate. Alcohol level that the addition of water reveals to be very apt, confirming the rightness of the Master Distiller’s (last?) choice.