Laphroaig is my favourite distillery, as I have noted before, and it is unlikely that I will stop buying and drinking various indie single casks even though I know they’re often operating in a very narrow band of variations. However, if the only cask strength Laphroaig available were the official 10 CS I’d still be happy. It’s a quintessential expression of all the extreme qualities associated with Laphroaig, yes, but it also conveys the mellower pleasures that usually lurk beneath. Until a few years ago there was just one official 10 yo cs, released year after year, usually at 55.7% abv. Then for arcane reasons having to do with the Scotch Whisky Association they began to be released in batches. This has, I imagine, been a boon for the distillery as idiots like me now want to try every single batch even though we’d probably not be able to tell them apart in blind tests.
Nonetheless, here is a review of Batch 003, released in the US in January 2011. A review of Batch 004 will follow tomorrow.
Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 003 (55.3%; bottled January 20011; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Briny peat, salt and seashells. Quite medicinal and also quite sweet under the salt. Acidic smoke begins to swirl around the edges after a bit and there’s also a hammy note. The sweet, charred mackerel thing from the palate arrives on the nose after a while. With more time there’s a clear vanilla note and almost a hint of shortbread. The salt expands too. A few drops of water and the ham and the smoke are one with each other.
Palate: A slap across the face with a heavily charred mackerel: tarry, phenolic but also sweet (bittersweet really). Much more smoke here and it’s charcoal smoke with some pork fat sizzling somewhere too. Oh, the tar expands and explodes in the mouth with a larger second sip–but the sweetness and the salt are quietly expanding too. Gets even more phenolic with water and the slightest bit rubbery too. On the whole, though, this is better without water. Just give it time.
Finish: Long and smoky. Salt along the edges of the tongue. Gets quite tarry with successive sips and there’s some heavily charred meat too, but the final impression remains that of salt.
Comments: Buy one today.
Rating: 89 points.