Closing out my week of Laphroaig reviews, here is another 13 yo, but unlike Wednesday’s 13 yo from Duncan Taylor (and also Monday’s 17 yo from SMWSA) it was not distilled in 1997 or matured in a bourbon cask. This is from a refill sherry cask filled in 1998, and was bottled by a relatively obscure Dutch outfit named Kintra Whisky (and seems to be the only Laphroaig they’ve yet bottled)—back at the start of the decade there was a lot more indie Laphroaig around than there is now. This is another bottle that I purchased a long time ago and kept unopened for no good reason. I finally opened it, alongside the Duncan Taylor 13 yo, for one of my local group’s tastings earlier this year (it was a tasting that featured two 14 yo Springbanks and two 13 yo Laphroaigs, one each from bourbon and sherry casks). I liked it fine then but found it a bit raw (and more than a bit sulphured). Since then it’s mellowed considerably and I’ve been enjoying it more. And now it’s time to take some notes.
Laphroaig 13, 1998 (53.4%; refill sherry butt 700047; Kintra Whisky; from my own bottle)
Nose: Mossy, vegetal peat with quite a bit of struck matchsticks and gunpowder; quite salty too. With more time there’s some softer hints of toffee and shortbread, and the sulphur comes across more spicy than sharp; more graphite too now. Gets richer as it sits with orange peel and apricot (both dried), but it’s all still run through obviously with sulphur (though it’s not off-putting). Water pushes the sulphur back some and lets more of the citrus out.
Palate: Starts off with the bell peppery peaty quality that so many sherried and peated Islays exhibit. The sulphur is present here too along with the salt and ashier smoke. Not much sign of the sweeter or fruitier notes at first or second sip. Saltier still on the third sip and the smoke is now more leafy than ashy. The mouthfeel is just a bit too thin. With a lot more time the sherry character is more evident with some of the citrus showing up. It does get sweeter as well but somewhat indistinctly so. Better balance here too with water and better texture too.
Finish: Long. The salt is the dominant note here along with leafy smoke. The salt fades a little with time. Water keeps the smoke going a long time.
Comments: In some ways this is like a mildly sherried version of the SMWSA 17 yo. That is to say, it’s a little thin in texture and not terribly complex flavour-wise. I did enjoy it more though, especially with water—and if not for the sulphur there would probably have been more to recommend in this.
Rating: 84 points.
I’d like to hear more about these 14-year-old Springbanks.
Oh, that’s your answer to everything!