For my last whisky review of the year I am going to back away from the older whiskies, from the independent releases and go to a 10 yo from my favourite distillery: Laphroaig. But don’t worry, I’m still annoying! It’s not a currently available 10 yo! No, it’s the second batch release of the venerable 10 yo CS.
With this review I am caught up on the first five batch releases of the Laphroaig 10 CS. In 2016 I’ll try to get current (are we up to Batch 007 in the US—did the distillery miss a chance to release/co-brand that with the last Bond film?) Long story short: I thought Batch 001 was excellent and that Batch 003 was very good; Batch 004 I rated a little below that and Batch 005 lower still. I am happy to be able to say that Batch 002 is very good as well. After keeping the bottle on my shelf for years I opened it a few months ago for a tasting and it made 80% of those present very, very happy (the other 20% are not fans of peat and it made them the opposite of very, very happy). I liked it so much that I jumped on the opportunity to purchase a second bottle at the original price. Anyway, here, only five years after its original release, is my review.
By the way, this batch is a little bit unusual in that there seem to have been two versions of it released. The one I am reviewing was released in (at least some parts of) the US and was bottled in Dec 2010 at 56.3% abv; in Europe Batch 002 was released in January 2010 and was at 58.3%. This is a discrepany I’ve tried to get to the bottom of somewhat fitfully ever since I first noticed it some years ago but have never received any explanation. Do you know what this was about? Anyway, I guess this means I’m not really caught up with Batches 001-005: if anyone has a sample of the other Batch 002, please get in touch.
Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 002 (56.3%; Dec 2010 Release; from my own bottle)
Nose: Massive phenolic wallop with gauze, disinfectant (Dettol) etc. all over the place. Quite a bit of salt too and some cereals. After a minute or so there’s some lime and some vanilla sweetness (nothing overbearing). The sweetness merges with the smoke and now there’s a charred meat quality to it. With a lot more time the smoke gets both more inky and more acidic and there’s more salt too. A few drops of water brighten up the nose and bring out a lot of cracked pepper.
Palate: Exactly as promised by the nose. Big but balanced. Starts getting peppery on the way out. Gets tarrier with each sip (and with more time). Saltier with water and the smoke is a little more woody now (less tarry).
Finish: Long. The phenolic smoke takes a long time to fade. The pepper from the tail end of the palate picks up some lemon as it goes. Water keeps the salt going on the finish too; it also makes the smoke hang around for approximately forever.
Comments: This is one that makes people crinkle their noses across the room when you pour it. Dark, essential Laphroaig goodness. I hope the coming editions of this revered malt can get back to the quality of the early batch releases.
Rating: 88 points.