Ardbeg Uigeadail

Ardbeg Uigeadail ReviewDistillery: Ardbeg
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 54.2%

Named after the loch that forms the distillery’s water source, Ardbeg Uigeadail is a vatting that marries younger, traditional Ardbeg spirit with older whiskies from casks that previously held sherry. Launched in 2003 at a time when no age statement bottlings were still a relative rarity, Uigeadail has certainly set a shining example for all NAS whiskies that have followed since. Although so far nothing comes close to the otherworldly Ardbeg Galileo, Uigeadail is definitely my favourite of the core range. And the 120.000+ members of the Ardbeg Committee agree: they have chosen Uigeadail as their most beloved Ardbeg. For me, Uigeadail has long been the go-to dram for finishing off a flight of smoky whiskies (be they Ardbegs or not). Having said that, it’s of course also great on its own, and I consider it to be the ultimate nightcap. However you drink it, Ardbeg Uigeadail is a phenomenal whisky and it’s well worth keeping a bottle in your collection.

Colour: Sparkly copper

Nose: Sweet and smoky, like grilled pork glazed with honey. Complex, aromatic and brimming with energy, there are the usual briny seaweed notes, as if a salty sea breeze were blowing over an Islay peat bog. The aroma of dark fruits mixes with Lapsang souchong and freshly ground coffee. Through it all wafts a fairly subdued smoke, like a peat fire that’s long since died down. There’s a lot going on and this promises to be an intricate yet fiery dram.

Palate: Oily and incredibly rich, with a luscious sweetness throughout. Ardbeg’s maritime character mingles with more sophisticated notes of sherry infused oak and floral cigar smoke. The balance is exquisite, like a fruit basket sprinkled with peat and honey. Then an earthier profile takes over with notes of heather and peat bogs, with just a hint of smoked fish towards the end.

Finish: Long and intense, with pure, clean peat smoke cascading over rocks of dark chocolate. There is a pleasantly salty, peaty aftertaste that lingers on for what seems like eons. Breathtaking stuff!

Verdict: Uigeadail offers a less medicinal, sweeter version of Ardbeg. Bottled at cask strength, Uigeadail still manages to deliver a mighty punch, but combines this with delicious complexity. The combination between Ardbeg and sherry is a sumptuous one, with the peaty Islay flavours being perfectly complimented by the European oak, all the while being impeccably balanced. I’ve long had an internal debate (with many a glass poured) over whether Corryvreckan or Uigeadail is the better dram, but I think Uigeadail may just edge it. It’s an incredibly rewarding whisky that can be counted among the true Islay greats!

Ardbeg Uigeadail Review

Bunnahabhain Toiteach

Bunnahabhain Toiteach 01Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 46%

Toiteach is Gaelic for “smoky”, and that’s really about as much introduction as this whisky needs. Bunnahabhain normally produces whisky that’s barely peated at all (around 2 ppm), but they’ve decided to create something different with Toiteach. Very different. Because Toiteach is smoky. Very smoky. Let’s see how it compares to some of Bunnahabhain’s Islay neighbours, as well as Toiteach’s less peated siblings.

Colour: Honey

Nose: Immensely peaty and rather acrid. Medicinal aromas of iodine and fresh seaweed blend effortlessly with huge quantities of smoke and brine. Underneath this thick, somewhat obtrusive layer of peat it’s hard to discover much else, but with a bit of imagination you can find orchard fruits, bog myrtle and a whiff of heather. The nose also faintly reminds me of a Pritt Stick, with some unpleasant glue-like qualities to it. Completely different to a normal Bunna, but then again that’s exactly the point of this whisky.

Palate: Not surprisingly, very peaty, but more pleasant than the nose would suggest. It’s like peat smoke wafting over an Islay bog, with smoky and earthy notes taking centre stage. There’s not much else going on though, as this whisky is quite one-dimensional. Notes of caramel and black pepper do make an appearance, but the smoky character dominates.

Finish: Medium long and slightly underwhelming. Again there’s plenty of peat smoke, but the aftertaste is ashy, dry and a rather bitter.

Verdict: It’s always exciting when distilleries experiment, as it can lead to some unexpectedly delicious results. The likes of Octomore, Mackmyra and Glenfiddich IPA come to mind. However, for each success story there are inevitably some less palatable experiments, and for me Toiteach unfortunately falls into the latter category. Although it’s interesting to try a peated Bunnahabhain, I feel that in the case of Toiteach the peat is a bit overdone, leaving little room for other flavours to develop. While I would have loved to experience the interaction of the peat smoke with Bunnahabhain’s fresh, fruity character, that’s simply not happening here. So although I’m an avid peathead, I am not convinced by Toiteach, and would much rather buy the excellent Bunnahabhain 12 year old.

Bunnahabhain Toiteach 02

Bowmore 12 year old Enigma

Bowmore 12 year old Enigma 01Distillery: Bowmore
Region: Islay
Age: 12 years old
abv: 40%

Although Bowmore Enigma has been discontinued (and replaced by the likes of Black Rock, Gold Reef and White Sands), it can still be found in some specialty stores. Once a proud member of the Travel Exclusive range, Bowmore Enigma comes in a 1 litre bottle, and boasts a higher percentage of whisky that’s been aged in European oak compared to the regular 12 year old. These ex-sherry casks give this whisky a sweet, almost juicy character.

I have to admit that I’m still searching for a Bowmore expression that’s really satisfying. Maybe it’s simply not my style, but I find many of their whiskies to be a bit too shy. In fact, you don’t often hear someone proclaim that Bowmore is their favourite distillery. Peatheads will tend to go for something else, whereas in my view Bowmore simply does not compare favourably with other medium peated whiskies such as Talisker or Highland Park. But perhaps Enigma will stand out, so back to the matter at hand.

This particular Bowmore isn’t actually all that enigmatic, especially compared to many of the NAS bottlings that are currently on the market. We actually know Enigma’s age, as well as the casks it’s been matured in, which is more than can be said of  Bowmore’s current Travel Exclusive range. Then again, Enigma sure does have a mysterious ring to it, so let’s try to decipher what this whisky is all about.

Colour: Tawny

Nose: Salty and quite medicinal. Aromas of polished wood and crushed almonds give way to milk chocolate. There is an unmistakable sweet sherry dimension, but it’s fairly subdued. The nose is rather friendly, with fruity notes of orange peel and lavender.

Palate: Light bodied, with a clear coastal influence. Brine and subtle seaweed open up to an oaky character, with notes of fresh wood shavings and vanilla.  There’s a faint hint of some spices too, but they’re very much on the background.

Finish: Disappointing. The finish is simply too flat and too soft. The aftertaste is ashy with some peat smoke, but does not leave a warming sensation.

Verdict: This whisky is so sweet and soft that it feels like you’re sipping lemonade. The only problem is that I don’t want to be sipping lemonade, I want to drink whisky. Bowmore Enigma is by no means a bad dram, but it’s just not very engaging. Although there are some classic coastal, smoky notes to this whisky, they are a bit drowned out by the sweetness from the sherry cask. In many cases an additional cask finish can provide a whisky with an extra dimension, but here it only seems to distract from the positive aspects of Bowmore’s distillery character. Sad to say, the result is another underwhelming Bowmore expression. Fortunately I bought this whisky at a steep discount, but at full price I would think twice before buying Bowmore Enigma again.

Bowmore 12 year old Enigma 02

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley

Port Charlotte Scottish BarleyDistillery: Bruichladdich
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 50%

It’s been some years now since Bruichladdich distillery decided to split its range: Bruichladdich for its unpeated whiskies, and Port Charlotte for its peated expressions (plus Octomore for the ultra peaty stuff). This means that at least you know what you’ll be getting with a Port Charlotte: smoke!

Port Charlotte is named after the village close to Bruichladdich distillery, which is where much of its whisky spends time maturing in the warehouses. Port Charlotte Scottish Barley is peated to a level of 40 ppm, placing it in between Lagavulin and Ardbeg in terms of smokiness. The stills used at Bruichladdich use a process known as trickle distillation. Combined with the unusually tall shape of the stills, this creates a clean, floral spirit, so clearly on display in drams such as the Classic Laddie.

The fact this Port Charlotte is made with Scottish barley isn’t really anything special, as most Scotch whiskies are. If you are partial to this kind of sentiment, I suggest you try the Islay barley instead, which is in fact locally grown. Bruichladdich rightfully style themselves as progressive Hebridean distillers, and they really have pushed the envelope with projects such as Octomore (hugely successful) and X4 (a flop), as well as several unconventional cask finishes. There’s not much progressive about the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley though, as this whisky was aged in traditional bourbon barrels – no matter how hand-picked they may be. Instead, the Scottish Barley is a solid Islay dram that’s bound to please.

Colour: Yellow gold

Nose: Wonderfully clean and crisp, like a salty sea breeze on a clear Islay day. Aromas of grilled prawns and smoked salmon intertwine with the floral profile of heather in full bloom. There’s a sweet smokiness to this whisky, kind of like a beehive on fire. You can also spot a whiff of seaweed, but this dram is nowhere near as medicinal as a Laphroaig or a Lagavulin. Since there is no interference from any sherry maturation, this Port Charlotte smells like a typical Islay dram. Quite promising!

Palate: Medium bodied and rather alcoholic. Although this whisky has not received an additional finish, it certainly does not lack for complexity. Port Charlotte’s sweet, floral character is on display again, perfectly balanced with the peaty, salty notes that we’ve come to expect from the Islay heavy hitters. Notes of toasted vanilla and shortbread give way to flavours of liquorice and caramel, but the taste is less exuberant than the nose would suggest.

Finish: Ufff, intense! The finish takes a while to unfold, but when it does the warming explosion is long and ferocious. The bottling strength of 50% is really working wonders here. A pleasant sensation of wood smoke and barley takes this whisky towards its climax. Only on the aftertaste does the peat truly develop, lingering on for quite some time.

Verdict: Port Charlotte Scottish Barley is quite an interesting dram. It manages to display all the typical fiery characteristics of an Islay whisky, while somehow being quite light and friendly. Although peated to 40 ppm, this dram doesn’t feel all that smoky, which is in large part due to the trickle distillation and Bruichladdich’s high necked stills. In some ways, Port Charlotte Scottish Barley is not dissimilar to Ardbeg 10 year old (which uses a purifier on the still), although much less earthy and smoky. What Bruichladdich have created with the Scottish Barley is a dram that’s ideal for those who are new to heavily peated whiskies. I distinctly remember disliking my first ever Laphroaig, and I can’t help but wonder if things had been different if I’d had this Port Charlotte first. Well worth a try!

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley

Laphroaig Four Oak

Laphroaig Four OakDistillery: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 40%

Over the past years, Laphroaig has been happily experimenting with different types of maturation. Quarter casks, bourbon barrels, sherry casks and virgin oak are just some of the casks used in Laphroaig’s recent NAS expressions. But why choose when you can actually use all of them? This is exactly what Laphroaig has done for their new expression, aptly called Four Oak. Given this name, it may not come as a surprise that the Four Oak one-ups the Triple Wood by adding an extra layer of maturation. While the Triple Wood is essentially a sherry finished version of Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Four Oak adds the virgin oak character that’s also found in Laphroaig QA Cask, meaning it really has a wealth of influences to draw upon. The QA Cask and Triple wood are both excellent Laphroaig expressions, albeit quite different in terms of character. Do the two styles mix? Let’s find out!

Colour: Pale gold

Nose: Somewhat sour and not altogether pleasant. The instantly recognisable Laphroaig seaweed and iodine make an appearance, but in rather subdued form. There’s a floral, winey character to this whisky, with scents of raisins and vanilla. These give way to toffee, cork and hemp rope, along with shortbread and roasted almonds. However, the effect is more than a little bit spoiled by a distinct aroma of raw spirit, faintly reminiscent of meat that’s not been cured correctly. Although there is quite a lot happening on the nose, it’s not all good news, and I really hope this whisky may yet surprise.

Palate: The same winey, mellow character returns, fused with notes of toasted oak and smoky cereal. The vanilla from the nose increases in intensity, as the influence from the virgin oak cask unfolds. There’s quite an explicit barley flavour, intertwined with notes of salty  liquorice. On the whole, this is a fairly fresh version of Laphroaig. I could never call a Laphroaig soft, but the Four Oak is much less feisty than the 10 year old or the Quarter Cask. Despite this, the relative youth of this whisky is apparent throughout. There is quite a lot of complexity, but little sophistication and more than a little lack of balance.

Finish: Not overly long, and missing that typical warming boost that announces this is a Laphroaig. The finish is accompanied by a relatively soft smokiness, having left most of the medicinal character behind. Eventually the smoke evaporates into an aftertaste of charred oak and dried fruit.

Verdict: Let’s cut right to the chase, Four Oak is not Laphroaig’s best offering. No amount of additional cask finishes can hide the fact that this is a very young whisky. And just to be clear: there’s nothing wrong with young Islay whiskies, in fact I happen to like them a lot. But if you’re going to bottle a dram like that, you should come out and make a bold statement, and not disguise it as something sophisticated. Similarly, I have no particular beef with NAS whiskies, as they are a simple necessity in a market where demand exceeds supply. What I’m not OK with however, is taking a very young whisky, giving it a few cask finishes and making a quick buck off a successful marketing campaign. What Laphroaig have produced with the Four Oak is a dram that’s no match for the 10 year old or the Quarter Cask in ferocity and liveliness, and can nowhere near rival the Triple Wood or PX Cask in terms of sophistication. For less money than the Four Oak, I would happily buy any of those whiskies instead, so it’s safe to say I will not be returning to the Four Oak anytime soon.

Laphroaig Four Oak

Kilchoman Sanaig

Kilchoman SanaigDistillery: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 46%

Kilchoman has been hugely successful in gaining an early fan base (myself included), who eagerly lap up all the limited editions that the distillery releases. Since Kilchoman’s whisky is so very drinkable from a young age, there have been several cask finishes to generate income while the rest of the distillery’s stock matures. While some of these releases have been excellent (the Port Cask was particularly brilliant), it is always a little bit sad when you finish your bottle and there is no way to get another. Luckily, Kilchoman Sanaig is now here to stay, forming Kilchoman’s core range together with Machir Bay.

Like Loch Gorm, Sanaig is named after a geographical feature close to the distillery. As whisky makers continue to release new bottlings, I have to say the topographical references become more and more obscure (Bowmore Black Rock or Old Pulteney’s Lighthouse Series are good examples), but hey, every whisky needs a name… More importantly, Kilchoman Sanaig has received an additional maturation in Oloroso sherry casks, imbuing the whisky with sweet, fruity notes, as well as a bit of extra character. While this dram retains plenty of punch and smoke, Sanaig is much more graceful and complex when compared to the peaty onslaught of Machir Bay. I think the sherry finish complements the distillery character rather well, and this a very well-balanced and enjoyable dram!

Colour: Honey

Nose: Lively, with an immediate rush of peat smoke and salty sea spray blazing out of the glass to meet you. Yet there are also fruity notes, with orange peel, pear and raisins in attendance. The smoke fades into more earthy aromas of peat bog and fragrant heather, before giving way to scents of grilled lobster and subtle seaweed. On the whole, more mellow and elegant than I am used to from Kilchoman.

Palate: Soft-bodied and surprisingly smooth. Thick layers of wood smoke dominate, burning down ever so slowly into oaky ash and cinders. Then a creamy profile takes over, with cocoa nibs and a hint of vanilla. The palate is not quite as fruity as the nose suggests, but still rather sweet. Cracked black peppercorn and smoked seafood provide a fiery punch leading up to the finish.

Finish: The bonfire continues, with notes of heavily charred wood and toasted barley. The fruity flavours from the nose also make a return, but now it’s as if they’ve been flame grilled. The finish is medium long but intensely warming, with a good, oaky aftertaste.

Verdict: This new offering from Kilchoman ticks all the right boxes, and it’s great to have an extra addition to the core range that you can keep coming back to. Compared to the Machir Bay, the Sanaig has a more intense and diverse flavour bouquet, with added depth. While Machir Bay is largely focused on smoke alone, the Sanaig is more elegant and refined, in as far as this is possible in a whisky so young. The sherry finish does take some of the rougher edges off this whisky, but it’s still very youthful and feisty, and thankfully Sanaig does not lose its signature Kilchoman kick. Although sold at a slightly higher price point than the Machir Bay, the extra layer of sweetness and complexity justifies the price hike. Sanaig is another great example of why I love Kilchoman distillery, and I will be eagerly awaiting any new releases!

Kilchoman Distillery

Lagavulin 8 year old

Lagavulin 8 year old reviewDistillery: Lagavulin
Region: Islay
Age: 8 years old
abv: 48%

Released to celebrate the distillery’s 200th anniversary, Lagavulin 8 year old is a nod to the great whisky writer Alfred Barnard, who visited the distillery in 1886. While doing so, he made mention of an 8 year old Lagavulin he tasted, which he described as “exceptionally fine”. Reflecting on their proud heritage, Lagavulin has decided to recreate this 8 year old malt to mark their bicentenary. Lagavulin has a very limited range and does not usually release limited editions, so this one really is something special. It is available for one year only, and although more expensive than its older brother, the 8 year old is still quite affordable. In this sense, Lagavulin has certainly one-upped Ardbeg and Laphroaig, which chose to release exclusive, expensive bottlings to mark their respective 200th birthdays in 2015. Even the packaging is a clear departure from Lagavulin’s usual darker shades, hinting that this whisky really is something quite different from the core range. With a maturation of just 8 years, this bottling is an exuberant, smoky and utterly breathtaking celebration of one of my favourite distilleries. Many happy returns, Lagavulin!

Colour: Pale straw

Nose: As expected, the nose is unmistakably smoky. Yet there is quite a medicinal aspect to it, which is leaning towards less pleasant notes of diesel oil or glue. Despite this, the nose is very crisp, with zesty aromas of orange peel and apricot combining with freshly toasted barley, for what promises to be a lively dram. Scents of fresh seaweed and smoked mackerel give way to walnut and cigar smoke. Not quite sure what to make of this one yet, so let’s move on.

Palate: Pungent and alcoholic, with a few traces of raw spirit still there. The medicinal character of the nose is completely gone, making way for pure, clean, beautiful wood smoke. Notes of toffee and milk chocolate also leave their mark, before being replaced by peaty cereal and spicy black peppercorn. For such a young dram, there’s an astonishing wealth of flavours and complexity.  This Lagavulin is both stunningly savage and sensationally smooth: a delicious 8 year old paradox of a whisky.

Finish: Colossal. The smokiness increases to gale force, while wave after wave of peated barley comes crashing in. The smoky inferno seems to last almost endlessly, what a fantastic dram!

Verdict: There is a reason why Lagavulin ages its core expression no less than 16 years (a long time by Islay standards). The low, pear-shaped stills at Lagavulin allow many of the rougher, impure alcohols to make the cut. Therefore a long maturation is needed to smooth the whisky out a bit, and the 16 year old is a wonderfully distinguished dram as a result. This 8 year old Lagavulin lacks that slow passage of time, resulting in a powerfully smoky whisky that packs a mighty punch. The Lagavulin 8 year old has received some bad reviews from people who are used to the 16 year old and expect the same sophistication. Truth is that the 8 year old is a different beast entirely, a much bolder, crisper version, making the 16 year old seem mellow in comparison. I’m sure Alfred Barnard would not have been surprised by such ferocity, so it’s all a matter of expectations. The price tag of this whisky has raised some eyebrows too, for it is more expensive than its 16 year old brother, at only half its age. Then again, what else do you expect from a limited edition? There are many younger NAS bottlings out there that sell at much higher prices. I am a huge fan of this Lagavulin, and will definitely buy another bottle before it’s too late.

Lagavulin 8 year old review

Bowmore Black Rock

Bowmore Black Rock ReviewDistillery: Bowmore
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 40%

Named after the fairly obscure ‘Black Rock of Islay’, this whisky forms part of Bowmore’s coastal themed Travel Exclusive range (the other two expressions being Gold Reef and White Sands). Medium peated and finished in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, this whisky strikes a balance between gentle smoke and a subtle sweetness.

Colour: Tawny

Nose: Salty and lightly smoky, but not medicinal. Aromas of walnut and cereal blend with the scent of smoked kippers. Citrusy orange notes give way to toffee and brown sugar, as well as a subtle vegetative character.

Palate: Light bodied and sharp. Toasted barley mingles with cigar smoke and a whiff of white pepper. Then a fruitier flavour palette opens up, with notes of apricot and orange marmalade, as well as a hint of cinnamon.

Finish: Medium in length and again quite sharp. Dried fruit develops into a thick but gentle smokescreen. The aftertaste is salty, and somewhat bitter, with a lingering smokiness.

Verdict: This is another NAS bottling about which I have mixed feelings. It is nice that Bowmore has provided Black Rock with a sherry finish for some extra complexity, but it also tastes a bit thin. We are given no clues about the age of this whisky, but my best guess it that it is rather young. While this works well for other heavily peated Islay whiskies, Bowmore does not quite manage to pull it off here. However, given the relatively modest price tag of this dram, it could still be a good buy, as you get decent quality compared to what you pay for.

Bowmore Black Rock Review

Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine

bunnahabhain-eirigh-na-greine-01Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 46.3%

Bunnahabhain distillery is a bit of a rarity on Islay, given that most of its whiskies are unpeated. This fact does not make it the ugly duckling of the island however, as Bunnahabhain produces some very enjoyable whiskies, with the 12 and 18 year olds being a particular delight. Over past years, the distillery has been adding limited editions to their core range, with Gaelic names such as Darach Ùr, Ceòbanach, Toiteach and Cruach Mhona. This particular release has been finished in casks that previously held red wine, giving the whisky an extra layer of fruity, spicy influences. Eirigh Na Greine is Gaelic for ‘Morning Sky’, which is reflected in the stunning red packaging of this expression. For a distillery that’s located on Islay’s eastern shores and faces the sunrise every day, this is of course more than appropriate. This is my first tasting of this whisky, so let’s hope the Eirigh Na Greine does not prove to be a false dawn!

Colour: Honey

Nose: Salty and sultry, like an ocean breeze blowing through a fruit orchard on a midsummer night. Notes of red berries and stewed pears intertwine with a hint of walnuts. Underneath the dominant fruity character, the aromas of toasted barley and fragrant heather shine through. Yet there is a slightly unpleasant metallic smell as well, although this is very much in the background.

Palate: Sharp and peppery, this dram takes a while to open up. When it does, salty and oaky flavours dominate. There are quite some fruity notes too, but they struggle to break through. Somehow the red wine finish is not complementary to the usual Bunnahabhain distillery character, as both sets of flavours battle for prominence.

Finish: Long and rather spicy, leaving you with a lingering, bittersweet oaky aftertaste.

Verdict: The beautiful packaging and a fancy red wine finish notwithstanding, this whisky lacks some finesse. Although I encourage the experiment of adding some extra depth and complexity to the regular Bunnahabhain profile, the resulting whisky is rather unbalanced, with some rough, metallic edges. Maybe this is due to this dram’s youth, as I suspect it to be significantly younger than the 12 year old core expression. Yet the Octomore 02.2 (Château Pétrus finish) is one of my favourite drams, so it’s not as if red wine finishes and young whiskies cannot go together. Having said that, adding a few drops of water to the Eirigh Na Greine helps the whisky open up somewhat, and makes the whole experience a bit more enjoyable.


Laphroaig Brodir

laphroaig-brodir-01Distillery: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 48%

You don’t need to be a linguist to guess the meaning of Laphroaig’s latest expression. Brodir means Brother in Norse, a nod to the close historical connections between Islay and the Vikings that once roamed the island. Keeping in line with the latest Laphroaig expressions, Brodir was initially meant as a travel retail exclusive, but can now be bought pretty much anywhere. After an initial maturation in ex-bourbon barrels, this whisky was transferred to European oak casks that previously held ruby port. This finish has provided an extra layer of sweetness and sophistication, resulting in a softer Laphroaig than we are used to. In this sense, Brodir is very much in tune with its siblings, Laphroaig QA Cask and PX Cask. Brodir does come with quite a hefty price tag, which may raise some eyebrows for what is another NAS bottling. However, a lack of age statement certainly does not translate into a lack of flavour, as Brodir brims with depth, complexity and elegance. And of course, as may be expected from a Laphroaig, a healthy measure of peat smoke. Very tasty stuff!

Colour: Mahogany

Nose: Sweet and saline. A bouquet of fragrant wood emerges, like an oak tree in full blossom. Although the smoke is restrained for a Laphroaig, it is still noticeable underneath the initial onslaught of fruity aromas. This leaves the impression of a salty Christmas cake, or fruity cigar smoke. Notes of strawberries and cream slowly give way to a much nuttier profile.

Palate: Full-bodied and mouth coatingly oily, almost creamy. Intensely nutty, with the flavour of walnuts roasted over a peat fire. These give way to dark chocolate mousse, followed by smoked lobster stewed in sangria. On the whole, a captivating cocktail of two parts peat bog, one part ruby port.

Finish: Sharp, warming and pleasantly sweet. At last the peat reek is allowed to roam free, as the smoke develops into a lingering sensation of peated barley and somehow… bubblegum. Spectacular stuff though!

Verdict: This dram reminds me of the Laphroaig Cairdeas bottling of 2013 (another port finish), which is one of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted. No wonder then that Laphroaig Brodir is up there with some of the finest peated whiskies to receive an additional finish. The smoothness and complexity of this Laphroaig make me wonder about the age of the whisky, as it is reminiscent of a much older, heavily sherried dram. While I suspect it to have aged little more than the standard 10 year old expression, Laphroaig Brodir is of a quality that easily belies its age. Like the Laphroaig QA cask, this is a bit of a tamed Laphroaig, but if you like finished peaty whiskies, I cannot recommend this dram enough!