Laphroaig 14, 1998 (Whisky Fair)

wflaph1998I 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.

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