Age: No age statement
The latest member to join Laphroaig’s travel retail exclusive family, PX Cask has received a triple maturation. After an initial ageing period in American ex-bourbon barrels, this whisky was then transferred to much smaller quarter casks. Because of their high surface to liquid ratio, these small barrels manage to impart a lot of oaky vanilla flavours in a relatively short time. To top it off, this Laphroaig was then transferred to European oak that previously held Pedro Ximénez sherry, from which the PX Cask gets its name. As such, it is essentially a sherry-finished version of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, also bottled at 48%. Yet the difference between the two is striking, with the PX finish adding an additional layer of richness and complexity to an already distinctive whisky. The result is a great dram, a peat monster with something extra. Although Laphroaig PX cask is now available in most online shops, there is one great advantage to its travel retail status: the bottle is a full litre. You’re going to need it, this whisky is very drinkable!
Colour: Coppery gold
Nose: Expressive and inviting, with the signature peaty, medicinal Laphroaig character clearly present. Yet this is a sweeter, richer nose than usual, drifting in like an ocean breeze if seawater were partially made of sherry. A beguiling mixture of grilled prawns and red fruits develops into notes of liquorice, hazelnut and strawberry jam. Underneath lingers a restrained aroma of heavily charred wood, as well as seaweed steeped in honey. Very promising!
Palate: Medium-bodied and slightly prickly. Leafy, earthy notes develop into a more oaky character, reminiscent of the woody, musty smell found in an underground bodega. Then a burst of spices pops open, with white pepper and nutmeg leading the charge. Through it all this dram displays a pleasant sweetness, but the smoke is more subdued than I would expect from a Laphroaig.
Finish: Did I just say that? At last the palate explodes into a towering conflagration of smoke and peat, leading to an immensely warming finish. At this point, it is quite noticeable that the PX Cask has a higher alcohol percentage than a regular Laphroaig, and this allows the typical distillery profile to do battle with the Pedro Ximénez influences. This skirmish rumbles on for some time, resulting in a huge finish that’s pure joy to the very end.
Verdict: I’m a big fan of heavily peated whiskies that have received a port or sherry finish, and Laphroaig PX Cask fits the bill perfectly. It’s got all the usual explosiveness of a Laphroaig, but with a richness and complexity not found in its standard expression. If the Quarter Cask adds an extra layer to the Laphroaig 10 year old, the PX Cask adds an extra dimension on top of that. Enough prattling through, let me summarise this review in just six words: very sweet, very smoky, very good!