Tonight I was lucky enough to get together a fantastic line-up of different Laphroaigs for a comparison. While each of these whiskies is made of identical spirit flowing from Laphroaig’s stills, the end result is vastly different. As such, this tasting gives a great insight in the effect that maturation has on a whisky. Although Laphroaig is secretive about the age of their whiskies, clearly some of these expressions have matured longer than others. With no actual ages at hand, we are limited to looking at the effects that the different casks have had on the Laphroaig spirit. And indeed, this choice of cask makes a world of difference, producing a spectacular range of diverse drams. Below is a short description of each of the whiskies, including a link to the full review.
Laphroaig 10 year old
As the core expression, this whisky perhaps best embodies the Laphroaig house style. Its maritime character comes with a big kick of iodine, smoke and seaweed. Lacking an additional finish, this whisky is drier and less sweet than some of the other Laphroaigs in this tasting. Bottled at 40%.
Laphroaig QA Cask
This dram is much softer and sweeter, both on the nose and the palate. The fact it’s been finished in a virgin oak cask means there’s a huge vanilla influence, taking some of the sharp, smoky edges off this Laphroaig. In many ways this is a friendlier version of the 10 year old. Bottled at 40%.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask
Finished in smaller ‘quarter casks’ for extra contact with the wood, this Laphroaig provides a noticeably bigger kick in terms of alcohol percentage. The medicinal character of the 10 year old is less pronounced here, but is replaced by an even thicker screen of smoke, with notes of grilled meat. Provides the perfect bridge between the 10 year old and some of the Laphroaigs described below. Bottled at 48%.
Laphroaig PX Cask
Taking its name from the Pedro Ximénez sherry casks it’s been finished in, this Laphroaig is much fruitier on the nose, and both sweeter and more complex on the palate. While the PX Cask is initially less smoky than the Quarter Cask, its feisty finish more than makes up for this. Bottled at 48%.
Laphroaig Triple Wood
This whisky has aged in three different cask types, and is essentially an Oloroso sherry finished Quarter Cask. Compared to its sherry sibling the PX Cask, the Triple Wood is a more mellow, sophisticated dram. The nose is more expressive, the body velvety and full, while the finish still provides plenty of peat smoke. Bottled at 48%.
This Laphroaig is something else entirely. Not your typical youthful Islay whisky, Brodir oozes elegance, maturity and complexity. Finished in a port cask, this dram is much fruitier and richer than other Laphroaigs. The body is amazingly full and the usual peatiness is more subdued. This smooth and sophisticated version of Laphroaig is a wonderful addition to the range. Bottled at 48%.