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: No age statement
Although offered as a travel retail exclusive, Laphroaig QA Cask is thankfully becoming more widely available. QA refers to Quercus Alba, the scientific name for American white oak. After an initial period of maturation in the customary ex-bourbon casks, this Laphroaig was transferred to new American oak casks. The result is a much softer, sweeter Laphroaig than usual, as the virgin oak smoothes out a lot of the rough, peaty character. To experiment with a tamed version of their whisky, Laphroaig therefore decided against lowering the peat level in their barley (as was the case for the ill-fated Ardbeg Blasda for example), and instead opted to let the wood do the work. This is a decision that has worked out wonderfully well and this Laphroaig is certainly worth a try!