Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Additional coloring: No
Average price: € 150.00
Official website: www.laphroaig.com
It wasn’t long ago that I was able to taste this year’s version, and here I find myself in the glass the 2017 Fèis bottling of Laphroaig.
Basically the cask strength version of the well-known and beloved by many (myself included) Quarter Cask, starting with at least five years of maturation in ex-bourbon (Maker’s Mark) first-fill casks that ended in six months of finishing in quarter casks, choosing 177 that became this edition created by John Campbell, then Distillery Manager.
As always, here’s the full list of the series:
2008 Càirdeas – ex-Sherry, 55%ABV;
2009 Feis Ila – ex-Bourbon, 57.5%ABV;
2010 Master Edition – ex-Bourbon Hogsheads, 57.3%ABV;
2011 Ileach – ex-bourbon, 50.5%ABV;
2012 Origin – ex-Quarter Casks and ex-Bourbon Refill Casks, 51.2%ABV;
2013 Port Wood Edition – ex-Bourbon finished in ex-Port barrels, 51.3%ABV;
2014 Bottled 2014 – ex-Bourbon First Fill finished in ex-Sherry Amontillado Hogsheads, 51.4%,ABV;
2015 200th Anniversary Edition – ex-Bourbon, 51.5%ABV (special edition for the bicentennial);
2016 Madeira Cask – ex-Bourbon finished in ex-Madeira Hogsheads, 51.6%ABV;
2017 Cask Strength Quarter Cask – ex-Bourbon First Fill from Maker’s Mark finished in Quarter Casks ex-Bourbon, 57.2%ABV;
2018 Fino Cask Finish – ex-Bourbon First Fill finished in ex-Sherry Fino, 51.8%ABV;
2019 Triple Wood – ex-Bourbon, Quarter Cask and finished in ex-Oloroso Sherry, 59.5%ABV;
2020 Port & Wine Casks – ex-Bourbon, ex-Ruby Port and ex-Red Wine, 52%ABV;
2021 Pedro Ximénez Casks – ex-Bourbon, ex-quarter cask and ex-Sherry PX, cask strength at 58.9%ABV.
2022 Warehouse 1 – ex-Bourbon first fill, 52.2%ABV
2023 White Port & Madeira Casks – ex-Madeira second fill and ex-White Port first fill, 52.3%ABV
The albeit considerable alcohol content on the nose is completely absent, were it not for the impetus it gives to strongly coastal and saline notes, a wave of iodine and brine with a consistent medicinal vein, all very Laphroaig. Even the peaty imprinting veers towards marine and vegetal, with a patina smeared over fruit (apricot, banana, peach, pineapple), almonds, Catalan cream and a hint of bacon, all drizzled with lemon juice. Simple and direct.
On the palate, the alcohol content is perceived more, but without imposing dilution, with balanced spices (ginger, white pepper) on an all in all light body in which the fishy and maritime vocation returns with a greater presence of medicinal and iodine notes, at times like drinking a disinfectant, were it not for the smoky component that is more important here. Less fruity and more sugary, in some respects a little flat and monotonous, it maintains consistency throughout the drink without any particular variations on the theme.
The finish is quite long with spicy touches and not very accentuated smoke and saline and medicinal evocations.
If you expect an amplified version compared to the standard one, the risk is that of a bitter disappointment: a pleasant dram but without any peak or drag, on the contrary, it tends to be far too flat and bore rather quickly.