Ahh Laphroaig. If there was one word which could accurately describe the whiskies that the distillery produces, it would probably be polarising. People definitely fall into one of two categories when it comes to Laphroaig: Either they love it to death, or hate its guts.
This polarisation can be partly attributed to the uninitiated wanting to try a peated whisky and deciding that the Laphroaig 10 Years Old was the ideal candidate to kickstart their journey. My advice: please DO NOT make this mistake, for it just might turn you away from peated whiskies for good. And that is a rather sad state of affairs.
It is for this reason that Laphroaig has a bad reputation among a certain group of whisky drinkers as they have made the mistake of jumping right in without doing their due diligence. Ideally, if one was to kickstart their journey into peated whiskies, it would be advisable to give the whiskies from the likes of Bunnahabhain, Kilchoman and Caol Ila a try before proceeding on to the heavyweights located on the Port Ellen coast.
As I have previously delved into the history of Laphroaig, I will not revisit the information as it can be found at the following link: The Islay Series – Distillery #6: Laphroaig. Further information on Laphroaig bottle reviews can also be found here: Laphroaig
This week’s review focuses on a rather special expression of Laphroaig which was bottled exclusively for the Exquisite store which is located within Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. It is the product of a triple maturation regime and was initially matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being transferred into quarter casks and finally into ex-Oloroso sherry butts before being bottled at 48% abv and as an 11 Year Old release.
The staff at Exquisite mentioned that this was a limited run of 1400 bottles and was a vatting of whiskies of various ages, the oldest of which was a staggering 42 years old! All of the bottles were exclusive to the store and were retailing for €149 each, which was rather pricey in my opinion.
As I had previously sampled several whiskies, the staff were kind enough to allow me to sample a small portion of this expression so that I could review it and I was more than happy to do so.
So, let’s jump right in!
Laphroaig 11 Years Old (Exquisite Schiphol exclusive bottling, 48% abv)
Nose: Initial entry presents the typical Laphroaig-esque peat and iodine notes that we are all familiar with, followed by hints of vanilla (a nod to its ex-bourbon heritage) and rich sherry (a nod to its ex-Oloroso heritage).
Cinnamon, berry compote, stewed apricots, icing sugar and a pronounced hint of oak emerge after some time and there’s a definite maritime note which prefers to linger in the background. If anything, it seems to be a cross between the Triple Wood and the PX Cask, which is not a bad thing to be honest. (21/25)
Palate: Initial entry presents a thick yet dry sherried note followed by more of that typical Laphroaig peat and iodine notes. While both aspects are present, they have been somewhat tempered by the sweetness imparted by the sherry maturation and the spices of the bourbon maturation.
Cinnamon, allspice, oak and black pepper emerge after some time and intermingle well with the berry compote and stewed apricots, creating a sweet and spicy complexity which is quite warming and more-ish. (22/25)
Finish: Medium to long finish, with the maritime salty notes detected on the nose finally making an appearance and intermingling well with the existing notes. The finish becomes increasingly drying, with the wood spices and peat fading into the background while the sweetness of the sherry lingers on. Quite a delicious dram! (21/25)
Balance: A dram which showcases the Laphroaig DNA well while allowing for the other elements to shine both individually and collectively. The alcohol strength is on point and adds on to the robust character of this dram.
However, it doesn’t feel as well crafted or balanced as the Triple Wood or the PX Cask and while there may have been older whiskies incorporated into the vatting, it can be easily detected that the majority of the whiskies used were closer to the age statement listed on the bottle. (20/25)
I must say that I enjoyed this expression as it presented elements of two Laphroaig expressions which I adore, namely the Triple Wood and the PX Cask. However, this dram lacks the balance of the aforementioned expressions and I feel that the price tag of €149 per bottle is rather excessive (although this may be due to the costs involved in acquiring the casks from the distillery as well as the vatting process).
The Laphroaig 11 Years Old can be found only at the Exquisite store at Schiphol Airport and quantities are limited, so I am not entirely sure if there are any bottles left for sale at this point of time. If there are, I would suggest purchasing a dram and trying it for yourself before making the decision to purchase a bottle.
Until the next review, have a great week.
More reviews: https://www.thesinglecask.sg/blogs/news