Laphroaig is my favourite distillery and in some ways the entry-level Laphroaig 10 may be my favourite real world whisky. By this I don’t mean this is the whisky I rate more highly than any other; I mean that it presents most of what I like about Laphroaig at a price that would allow me to drink it everyday if I were so constrained, and that I would not be unhappy drinking it every day—it rewards attention and it’s very pleasurable even when you’re doing other things that require more of your attention; it’s direct but it isn’t dumbed down. There may be a different whisky that fits this bill for you but this is mine*.
The only problem with it is that when I have a bottle open I go through it alarmingly fast. I took this photograph of the closed bottle a few days ago and I’m almost approaching the halfway mark already. For that reason I haven’t opened a bottle for a while now, which is why I’ve failed to review it for the blog until now.
*I should say that I feel this way about the 43% version available in the US. Elsewhere in the world (or at least in the EU and in travel retail) it is bottled at 40% and that version I’m less happy with.
Laphroaig 10 (43%; from my own bottle)
Nose: A big wave of smoke, phenolic and ashy and cereally all at the same time. Peated lemons below the smoke and then muskier fruit and a touch of ham. Gets sweeter as it sits, with apple joining the cereals while the smoke wafts all around. With even more time the acid returns and some notes of vanilla-cream emerge. A couple of drops of water pull out more of the fruit.
Palate: As on the nose the smoke and cereals make the first impression with the fruit arriving as I swallow (again, citrus first and then sweeter notes heading towards the finish). The mouthfeel is just a tiny bit too thin but it’s very far from watery. The phenolic notes intensify with time. With water the smoke gets a little sharper and there’s some menthol coolness.
Finish: Medium-long. The late arriving fruit expands with the lemon edging into muskier, almost tropical notes before collapsing into the underlying ash. At the very end the smoke gets more tarry. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Quintessential Laphroaig character. It’s not very complex but it’s far from one-note. A solid, dangerously drinkable whisky that’s consistent from beginning to end. No whisky shelf should be without a bottle of this. Water is superfluous, I think.
Rating: 87 points.