Yesterday, the Laphroaig 10, today its younger sibling, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. My understanding, probably wrong, is that this is the regular spirit that would normally be destined to reach 10 years of age for the 10 yo release being re-racked at a younger age into smaller quarter casks which impart far greater wood contact and influence to it (claimed by some to “speed up” the maturation process). How much younger this is than 10 years old, I’m not sure. I’ve seen references to at least the original release (from 2004, I think) comprising five year old spirit that was re-racked for less than a year, and I think I’ve also seen references to it being a little older—the official website does not mention any ages for it. At any rate, it’s one I’ve liked a lot in the past, but I haven’t tasted it for a couple of years now and so I’m interested to see if I still like it as much.
This bottle was split with friends and had, I think, been open for at least a few months before I took my share (it’s another of the bottles left behind by a friend who left the country.) I’m pretty sure the bottle code was for 2011 or 2012—I looked when I took my share, but that was more than a month ago now and I forgot to write it down.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask (48%; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: More intensely phenolic than the 10, and sharper with vegetal, hot peppery notes. Quite a bit sweeter too with the vanilla coming out much more quickly and more expansively. Gets quite salty as it sits with some green olive brine mixing with a coastal air. With a lot more time there’s some dried orange peel and lemon. Okay, let’s see what water does. More acidic with water but there’s also more of the vanilla.
Palate: As on the nose, there’s a very phenolic arrival but there’s not much of the vegetal note here—wait there it is on the second sip. Sweet here too and the oak is more palpable. With more time there’s more fruit: some lemon emerges, and also something sweeter that I can’t quite put my finger on. The salt emerges earlier with each sip and an inky note begins to show up as well. Water makes it sweeter and generally less interesting.
Finish: Long. The salt emerges again on the finish and then hangs around for a long while along with the smoke which gets ashier and pretty much colonizes my mouth. Water pushes the salt back.
Comments: Punchier than the 10 yo and much louder. I suspect I liked it more than the 10 for that reason at one point. But even though there’s more going on here than in the 10, now I’m more inclined to rue what’s not here: those cereally notes I like in the 10. And there’s a little more vanilla than I like these days in my peated whisky. So, the same score, I think.
Rating: 87 points.