I love Laphroaig. There I've said it. The distillery is one of two spiritual homes of mine (Anfield being the other) and I simply love all their product releases so to get to try some pretty incredible stuff that is rarely part of other tastings made this an epic tasting at the Laphroaig Distillery.
Before the tasting got underway I did the Laphroaig Distillery tour for a second time; I don’t normally like doing the tour more than once anywhere, especially not just a few months after the first but as I said, this is my spiritual home so enjoyed being in and amongst the stills and tuns. You can read all about the tour in this article.
Once the tour was done we entered the new tasting room.
They have done an incredible job in creating a space that brings the brand, the liquid and the stories to life in such visual and engaging ways.
Our tasting was lead by David, a Laphroaig Distillery veteran and legend in equal measures, he was arguably one of the most interesting distillery workers I have ever come across.
He imparted stories and tales galore but two things stood out to me more than much of the rest:
Laphroaig only uses their casks once, 25 Year Old aside, then they are sent off to Ardmore to be used for blends.
All Laphroaig whisky is matured on Islay, none on the mainland
Anyway, then we sat and began.
Dram One - Laphroaig 10 Year Old
David told us to just drink the first one without too much thought or effort being put in to dissecting and understanding it. This is a conversational whisky, one to just enjoy without much pomp.
Once finished he kindly topped everyone up with another one. What a guy.
Dram Two - Laphroaig 25 Year Old at Cask Strength 45.1%
WHAT?! The second dram of a tasting is a marquee 25 Year Old £300+ bottle? Yeah, that’s right, and we were all blown away. This whisky had been matured in sherry and bourbon casks for 25 years then married together.
This one brought quite an awkward moment as one chap in the room had what I can only describe as a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ moment, as he growned, moaned and professed to its greatness. Sure, he was right, but wow that was a reaction.
Nose: Lots of fruit, sultanas, berries
Palate: Warming, TCPness, not as powerful as the nose or the 10 Year Old. David explained this as “I always like to say ‘more oak, less smoke’ – the longer a spirit matures, the less smokey peaty influence the end bottled whisky has as a general rule”
Dram Three - 2009 Feis Ile bottling of Cairdes
Incidentally Cairdes means friendship in Gaelic, hence being bottled for the ‘Friends of Laphroaig’ each year and released on festival day.
Nose: Dark chocolate, lots of wood, marzipan
Palate: Strong, white pepper, fun, iodine, chewy and flavoursome
Finish: Long and dry
Such a shame you can no longer buy this one, it really was great.
Dram Four - 1997 Cask 7305 18 Year Old 52.2%
All matured in bourbon, lots of smoke and marzipan on the nose with a heavy, peat and heather laced palate.
A lot sweeter than expected.
Dram Five - 2013 Cairdes Port finish - 8 Year Old
American bourbon casks for most of the maturation period with the final 15 months finished in port wood.
I did not really get any notes for this one as I did not personally enjoy it as much.
What a tasting though, the Laphroaig 25 Year Old was a particular highlight.