I have nothing new to say about Laphroaig, so let’s get right to my notes for this 2013 bottling for the Limburg Whisky Fair.
Laphroaig 14, 1998 (53.9%; The Whisky Fair, sherry cask; from a purchased sample)
Nose: The phenols come wafting over the lip of the glass before I’ve even finished pouring: cereally, minerally (wet stones), carbolic; not smoky as much as pungently peaty. With a bit of air the peat gets quite sweet and there’s some wet coal smoke too. This must have been a refill sherry cask; at least there’s no obvious sherry influence on the nose. Gets increasingly ashy with time. With more time, gets quite briny. With a few drops of water the coal smoke wakes back up and gets a little acidic. Then there’s some citrus–somewhere between lime and tangerine peel.
Palate: Sweet peat, a lot of ashy smoke, some sweet pork fat. Expands dramatically in the mouth: the peat swelling first in sweetness and then to an inky bitterness. Some fruit lurking–might need water to coax it out. Again, very restrained sherry influence, if any. With time a slight brown sugary sweetness and a hint of citrus peel, but I may be trying too hard to find the sherry. No, with water the citrus is there for sure.
Finish: Long. Slightly bitter at first but finally there’s a sweet ashiness (“why not an ashy sweetness?”, ed.). Water really deepens the ash on the finish. Well after the last swallow my tongue feels like I licked a cold coal stove.
Comments: Very nice and very textbook Laphroaig. Despite the label saying sherry this is not very sherried at all; barely sherried, in fact. This was part of a 226 bottle run, which may possibly mean that a sherry butt was split with another bottler; or it may mean that this was a sherry hogshead. I think the latter is more likely as there are suggestions here that there was greater wood contact, leading to a sweetness more reminiscent of bourbon cask Laphroaig. If anyone knows different please correct me so I can look properly foolish. On the whole, very nice, as I say, and not likely to disappoint a Laphroaig lover, but there’s nothing very distinctive about this.
Rating: 87 points.