Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Laphroaig Quarter CaskYesterday, 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.

4 thoughts on “Laphroaig Quarter Cask

  1. Though this does slightly contradict what I said in your review of Laphroaig 10, when it comes time to restock the shelves, I’ll grab whichever of the two is cheapest (typically the 10 but not always). The QC is sweeter and a bit more “punchy”, I agree. But, to my palate, the differences are negligible when I’m in the mood for Laphroaig (autumn through early spring!), so price breaks the tie.

    I’ve not had the 18 but understand that it is basically the same components more subdued by time and maturity. That would fall in line with the experience of the punchiness of the components being more noticeable in the QC, the younger, vs the 10.

    Have you had their Triple Wood?


  2. The 18 yo is an altogether more elegant affair. At 48% it’s got greater depth than the 10 yo and it’s not as sweet or in your face as the Quarter Cask. As for the Triple Wood, I went through a bottle right when it was released (in duty free back in 2009 or so). I liked it a lot then but haven’t tried it since. I do have a bottle on the shelf from the subsequent American release but no idea when I’ll open it.

    Here in MN we get Laphroaig at very good prices (well, our prices for the 21 and 25 are as fucked as anyone else’s), and with rare exceptions the 10 is always cheaper than the QC, and quite easily found for a bit less than $40. The QC is about $10 more but then for another $5-8 you can get the 10 CS, and so my QC bottles are least readily replaced.


  3. The QC is undoubtedly the more complex of the two. And for that fact I don’t mind having both around – one for Laphroaig peat, and the other for laphroaig peat with a bit extra. Sadly I seem to be currently out of both!

    Annoyingly (and sadly typically) you are likely to find these bottles going for closer to $100 here in Aus. Probably why I haven’t restocked recently…


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