And so we return to Islay and more specifically, Laphroaig, to review one of their expressions which has been on the market for some time now: the Laphroaig Select Cask.
As has been the position of late, the distillery has released a number of NAS whiskies over the past few years alongside their core range of age-statemented offerings. Some of these releases, namely the Quarter Cask for the core range and PX Cask for the travel retail exclusive range, have been exceptional additions and has given Laphroaig a level of credibility when it comes to releasing quality NAS whiskies.
Make no mistake, most of these releases are on the younger end of the spectrum. But it seems that Laphroaig is looking at a two-pronged approach of firstly educating whisky drinkers that age is but a number and that flavour-driven younger releases can be just as good as their age-statemented counterparts and secondly allowing for a form of stock management in order to better cater to demand for their whiskies.
The focus of today’s review is the Laphroaig Select Cask expression from the distillery and it is a vatting of a multitude of different casks. Oloroso sherry butts, American white oak (and according to The Whisky Exchange, possibly some virgin oak), Pedro Ximenez-seasoned hogsheads (possibly the same ones used to mature the PX Cask), quarter casks and first-fill bourbon casks are all used in the vatting process to create this whisky and it results in a rather restrained version of the distillery’s house style.
So, let’s get on with the review!
Laphroaig Select Cask (40% abv)
Nose: Initial entry presents sea salt, anchovies and salted butter alongside with the typical Laphroaig iodine note. The peat is present, but rather restrained. TCP, a hint of sherry, barley sugar, kippers and apricots make this a rather complex nosing experience. A hint of vanilla at the very end. (20/25)
Palate: The sweetness of the barley coupled with coastal peat and sweet sherry are quite apparent from the beginning, with a touch of nutmeg and cloves intermingling. Not as complex or densely flavoured as the PX Cask, but it does have it’s own unique character.
Smoked bacon, beach bonfire, sea salt and white pepper make an appearance after some time and combine fairly well with the main characteristics of this dram. It’s definitely Laphroaig-esque in style, but with a softer and more approachable side. (19/25)
Finish: Short on the finish with some saltiness, barley sugar and just a hint of sherry. Ends rather abruptly to be honest. (17/25)
Balance: A fairly well balanced dram which does try to incorporate all of its elements together in a cohesive fashion, but it does seem to lack a certain wow factor. In this case, the standard abv of 40% doesn’t do it any favours as it seems rather underpowered for my liking.
If this was bottled at a slightly higher strength of 43% abv, chances are it would have provided a better representation of itself in my opinion. However, it is a solid (albeit unspectacular) offering from Laphroaig. The mouthfeel is slightly oily but drying towards the end. (19/25)
The Laphroaig Select Cask can be purchased at both The Whisky Exchange (£29.96 ex VAT) & Master of Malt (£28.33 ex VAT) with an additional charge for shipping and handling and any associated customs duties.
On its own, it is a fairly solid dram. But when put up against the likes of the Quarter Cask or PX Cask, it tends to fall some way short of the lofty standards that one would expect from a Laphroaig regardless of whether it is a NAS release or an age-statemented offering.
Until the next review (which I promise will be something very interesting), have a great week ahead.
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