Whisky Review #135: Laphroaig 1990 21 Years Old (Bottled By Silver Seal)

Laphroaig is one of my favourite distilleries and I have had the pleasure of sampling a myriad of expressions which are both of official and independent stock. While the classic Laphroaig notes consist of a whack of peat and other associated medicinal hints, there is a fair bit of variance with regard to the independent bottlings which tend to showcase more of the nuances of the distillate as well as the influence of the cask.

One of the best representations of this would be the subject of today’s review and it is a Laphroaig which was distilled in 1990, matured for 21 years in a sherry butt before being bottled at a cask strength abv of 57.7% by Italian independent bottler, Silver Seal.

So, let’s jump right into the review!

Laphroaig 21 Years Old Sherry Cask (Silver Seal)
Laphroaig 21 Years Old Sherry Cask (Silver Seal)

Laphroaig 1990 21 Years Old (Bottled by Silver Seal, 57.7% abv)

Colour: Burnished copper

Nose: Initial entry presents a fair bit of medicinal peat, coupled with stewed apricots, sherried raisins, rancio and a whack of black pepper. With time, herbal elements of thyme and sage emerge alongside cigar leaves, drying oak, cinnamon and nutmeg. Coal dust, old leather and balsamico emerge late on. (23/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents more of the same as the nose, with the peat being prominent and yet rather elegant. Stewed apricots, balsamico, rich sherry, black pepper and rancio are at the fore, followed by black pepper, oak, cinnamon and nutmeg. With time, the old leather note becomes rather prominent and is complemented by hints of good quality dark chocolate. (24/25)

Finish: Long, lingering and memorable on the finish, with old leather, peat, sherry, balsamico, oak and cinnamon bringing things to a complex, multi-faceted and satisfying close. (24/25)

Balance: An exceptionally well-balanced and delicious expression of Laphroaig which showcases what can happen when a great distillate is married with an exceptional sherry cask. The latter doesn’t overpower the former and allows for its character to shine, while some elements of the former are accentuated by the latter, which accounts for the great balance. The mouthfeel is oily for the most part and becomes slightly drying towards the end. (23/25)

Rating: 94/100

This expression was savoured some years ago at The Auld Alliance on two separate occasions and the rating was reinforced on the second occasion as this was just as good as I had remembered it to be.

The bottle is now long gone, unfortunately, so all that is left are the memories of it. That being said, if you do come across a bottle of this on the secondary market, do not hesitate as it is an exceptional example of a well-balanced sherried Laphroaig. It may be rather pricey, but it is definitely worth it.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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