I just saw a tweet from Sku with a linked article announcing the withdrawal of the Laphroaig 18. The article is brief and offers no details except to say that Beam Suntory “has pulled its Laphroaig 18-year-old after running out of liquid”. Unlike with the similarly withdrawn Glendronach 15, there’s no proposed timetable for return. Basically, what this means is that starting with the stock distilled in 1998 they do not have enough 18 yo spirit left. The question is where did it go? What was happening at Laphroaig from 2006 onwards, say, that might have affected older stock? A couple of related possibilities occur to me.
First, in that period they may have diverted a lot of stock to their various new NAS releases. Spirit may have gone into the Quarter Cask, Triple Wood, PX, QA, Select etc. that might otherwise have made it to 18 years of age. It’s also possible, of course, that they released a lot of the 10 yo and 10 CS in 2008. People who know more about the timeline of Laphroaig releases may be able to confirm or at least support some of this speculation. Secondly, it’s possible that (at least some of) what could have been released at 18 years of age is now being held back for more lucrative, older expressions. With a 21 yo brought back this year and the 25 yo showing no signs of disappearing (or dropping in price), Laphroaig may be removing the “middle” age-stated part of their range completely. It’s also possible that younger Travel Retail expressions may be more lucrative as well. The article ends with a mention of a new 16 yo Travel Retail release—at least, that’s age-stated, unlike the An Cuan Mor.
I guess we’ll find out when/if more details emerge.