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
Another No Age Statement from Laphroaig, the Quarter Cask takes its name from a second maturation it has received in much smaller American oak casks. At about a quarter the size of a normal ex-bourbon barrel, the ratio of wood surface to liquid is much higher in a quarter cask. This increased contact allows the whisky to soak up flavour from the oak at a much faster rate. And indeed, this is noticeable in the end result: while the feisty Laphroaig character is most definitely still present, there is also an extra layer of oaky, vanilla creaminess.
Laphroaig claims the use of quarter casks is a long-lost tradition that is just now being revived. If that’s the case, this tradition seems here to stay, as the Quarter Cask now forms the basis for various other Laphroaig expressions. And who can blame them, as the Quarter Cask is a mighty fine dram in its own right.