This is a somewhat useless review even by my standards as it is not only of a bottle released in 2004 but also from an unidentified cask (but at least it’s a beautiful sample bottle picture). Yes, when I got this sample in a swap I failed to ask for cask information and failed to follow up later. Whiskybase lists three Old Malt Cask releases of single casks of Laphroaig 17, 1987 and since all OMC bottles are released at 50%, the abv is of no help either. “Why don’t you just ask the person you got it from?”, I hear you ask. It’s a good question but the problem is this was a UK member of the WWW forum who has since given up whisky and drifted away from the whisky parts of the net. Also, this was three years ago, so even if I were to intrude on him out of the blue I highly doubt he’d remember. I’m writing it up anyway because I haven’t had too many 1980s Laphroaigs and in any case I don’t really worry too much about the utility of my tasting notes: if you like Laphroaig you may find it of interest anyway.
Laphroaig 17, 1987 (50%; Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Soft, cereally notes at first; then the smoke comes on, a bit rubbery at first and then ashy and increasingly phenolic. The rubber’s still around but it’s sweet and mixed in with some pencil lead and some bacon fat. With a little more time there’s some vanilla as well. With more time the rubber fades. A drop of water pulls lime out on the nose as well
Palate: Very much as promised by the nose except there’s no soft, cereally entry. Ashy smoke, a lot of it, some rubbery/vanilla sweetness and then a sudden burst of lime. On the second sip it’s more tarry than ashy and there’s a bit more of the rubber than I would like. On the third sip it’s also more acidic from the get-go. With water there’s more lime and the smoke goes back to ashy from tarry and then there’s a slight soapiness..
Finish: Long. The lime gives way quickly to dark, tarry smoke which pretty much just takes over my mouth. Brighter on the finish too with water.
Comments: This is very Laphroaig, which is to say I liked it a lot. However, there’s just a bit too much of that rubberiness on the palate (though I have to clarify that there’s no sulphur as such—it’s the rubber adjacent to hot tar and asphalt) and that held it back for me a little. I preferred it without water. Can’t say I find this to be palpably different from Laphroaigs distilled in the 1990s or 2000s.
Rating: 85 points.
Thanks to Steven R. for the sample!