Ahh Laphroaig! Nothing like a kick of iodine to hit you in the face and make your eyes water. Laphroaig is the ultimate love it or hate it dram, so the mere fact I had this tasting will tell you which camp I’m in. While I was previously able to line up a nice selection of Laphroaigs, tonight’s tasting upped the ante with a few more premium bottlings. Over the past years, Laphroaig has released quite a lot of new expressions, all without an age statement. Another noticeable trend has been the use of quarter casks in almost all of their whisky. While this is a testament to the success of Laphroaig Quarter Cask, it’s also an indication that Laphroaig doesn’t shy away from speeding up the maturation process by using casks with a higher surface-to-liquid ratio. Lastly, Laphroaig seems to be marrying more and more different cask types together, culminating in the (rather disappointing) Four Oak. So… what are these recent Laphroaigs like, and how do they stack up against some of the old guns? Let’s find out: below is a short description of each of the whiskies, including a link to the full review.
Age: 10 year old
As Laphroaig’s core expression, the 10 year old embodies the distillery character in its purest form, unburdened by the process of extensive maturation or additional finishes. While many whisky makers boast of their maritime influences, no other whisky reflects this in the final product more than Laphroaig. Pungent, peaty and powerful, in many ways it is the quintessential Islay malt. As such Laphroaig is the ultimate ‘love it or hate it’ dram, a term the distillery itself once used as an advertising slogan. In fact, Laphroaig is so medicinal in flavour and aroma that it could legally be sold as a medical spirit during Prohibition in the Unites States.
I distinctly remember disliking that big rush of iodine the first time I tried Laphroaig 10 year old. Like olives, beer, or indeed whisky itself, Laphroaig is an acquired taste that I’ve come to love over the years. To quote another bit of Laphroaig marketing: “Laphroaig may seem a little aloof at first, but make the effort, broach acquaintance and we can guarantee you’ll have a warm and genuine friend for life.” If whisky bottles can indeed be counted as friends, you could certainly do worse than having Laphroaig 10 year old for a companion.