Age: No age statement
Noun. a body of traditions and knowledge on a subject held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth.
Laphroaig is no stranger to a bit of Gaelic here and there, but today’s bottling is in plain good old English. Which means it’s possible to look up a definition, and as always the folks at Oxford Dictionary were happy to oblige. So if you consider that the particular group are distillers, blenders and craftsmen, and that the subject is distilling Laphroaig, then the name Lore is really quite fitting. For indeed this bottling is meant as a celebration of the knowledge passed on through the ages, all the way from 1815 until the present day. Somewhere along the line someone must’ve passed some knowledge on the virtues of NAS whiskies, because Laphroaig has very much followed this trend. But enough has been said about this, for it’s quality that counts, not age statements. And on this front Laphroaig Lore is certainly not holding back. Current distillery manager John Campbell claims that Lore is the richest Laphroaig ever made, and given that it’s composed of 7 to 21 year old whisky, including some aged in sherry butts and quarter casks, there may be some truth to this statement. Certainly Lore has picked up plenty of awards, and was named as best NAS Scotch in Jim Murray’s 2019 Whisky Bible. While I far from always agree with Jim Murray, I certainly did enjoy this luxuriously spicy Laphroaig!
Colour: Deep gold
Nose: There’s a certain eagerness to this whisky, with a sweet, spicy energy that’s somehow infectious. Think aromas of barbecued meat, seasoned generously with black peppercorns. Nutmeg and chilli flakes add further bite, with scents of honey and toffee providing a nice counterbalance. And of course, you don’t have to look far for that medicinal peat reek that simply screams Laphroaig, with aromas of kelp, brine and iodine.
Palate: Full bodied and oily, with a fiery streak that carries over from the nose. Those chilli flakes fuse effortlessly with a roaring peat fire. There are pleasant notes of toasted barley, along with charred meat and a hint of tar. Intense in flavour (although not as eye-wateringly smoky as some other Laphroaigs), Lore actually benefits from a drop of water to douse the flames a bit. This will reveal a creamier side to this Laphroaig, with notes of butterscotch and fudge.
Finish: Hot and dry, with a sharp spicy burst. The peaty blaze dies down every so slowly, accompanied by notes of charred oak and honey.
Verdict: So, is Lore the richest Laphroaig ever? It certainly is rich, that much is true. But is Lore lavish enough to eclipse the likes of Laphroaig Brodir? Well… not quite if you ask me. Having said that though, Lore stays more true its Laphroaig pedigree than some of its sherried siblings. Whereas you usually need to choose whether you prefer your Laphroaigs rich or feisty, Lore is both – a remarkable achievement from the Islay distillery. If this bottling is meant to represent the knowledge of distilling Laphroaig passed on through the ages, then Lore has done a splendid job of adding extra layers of complexity and richness, while keeping its Laphroaig identity fully intact.
Despite this, there are plenty of negative reviews to be found on Laphroaig Lore. I suspect this has a lot to do with the hefty price tag this NAS bottling commands… it does create certain expectations. Critics accuse Lore of being boring, with one reviewer going as far as giving Lore the epically harsh title of Nickelback of Whiskies. So is this Laphroaig a bit dull? Well, I can’t claim to have been down into the bottom of every bottle, but I will be meeting the bottom of my Lore bottle soon enough. This is an extremely drinkable, fun Laphroaig!