Monday’s Laphroaig 18, 1997, bottled by Berry Brothers and Rudd for The Whisky Exchange was a real beauty with unexpected fruit and a lot of it. Will lightning strike a second time with this 17 yo also distilled in 1997 and matured in a bourbon cask? Am I going to have to start hunting down Laphroaigs from the late 1990s bottled in the high teens?
This was bottled by Signatory for Binny’s in Chicago. Binny’s have an excellent track record with their Laphroaig selections and so even it isn’t as fruity as the TWE/Berry Bros. & Rudd I expect it will be very good anyway. Let’s see. I should note that the regular price is in the new normal range for Laphroaig (i.e $169.99 for a 17 yo)—but it’s currently discounted down into the almost plausible range ($129.99).
Laphroaig 17, 1997 (54.7%; hogshead; Signatory for Binny’s; from a bottle split)
Nose: Gentle peat, cereals, lime peel and a bit of vanilla. The citrus is more pronounced on the second sip and there’s a gasoline edge to the peat now and some minerally smoke. The lime peel gets stronger and muskier as it sits. Water brings out notes of mothballs
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose at first with some pepper mixed in. The smoke is tarrier and on the second sip all but drowns out the citrus. Gets sweeter as I swallow. With time the lime emerges again and the whole is sharper now and more minerally. Sweeter with water and less tarry.
Finish: Long. The tar builds and the sweet notes expand alongside. As on the palate it gets more acidic with time, and the smoke gets ashier on the finish. Water makes the smoke on the finish milder as well and pulls out more of the pepper.
Comments: Alas, the fruit that was in that BB&R/TWE bottling is not here on the palate. However, this is very good and quite quintessential Laphroaig in its own right. No one who is a fan of the distillery will be disappointed by this; indeed, those who’ve been disappointed by the recent turn to vanilla sweetness and relative blandness will be very pleased by its medicinal punch. Think of it as a slightly more refined version of the better, earlier batches of the CS 10 (Batch 004 and earlier).
Rating: 87 points.