Here to close out 2016 on the blog is Batch 007 of Laphroaig’s 10, CS. I’m not sure if Batch 008 made it to the US—I haven’t seen it in Minnesota, at any rate. This year we got a bit of a scare when word began to make the rounds that the 10 CS was going to be discontinued after Batch 008; the distillery put out statements shortly thereafter to reassure customers that this is not true (I covered all this in my review of Batch 006 earlier this year). Since then, however, I’ve been told by a reliable person that he’d heard first-hand at Feis Ile from a high-up at the distillery that the 10 CS was indeed on the chopping block—so who knows? If it is going out—and I hope it is not—I hope it will go out strong. The series took a big dip with Batch 005. Unlike some others, I thought Batch 006 was a big improvement, and I’m hoping Batch 007 will be further along in that direction. It certainly has been received a lot better than Batch 006 (see here for Grinch Kravitz’s take). Less vanilla and more phenols: that’s what we want.
Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 007 (56.3%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Big phenolic wallop with some cereally sweetness behind. On the second sniff there’s ink and seashells and also a softer sweetness (vanilla, pastry crust). As it sits, there’re some hints of citrus as well and expanding salt. The big phenolic wallop settles into a more acidic, antiseptic (Dettol) note. With water there’s more lime and pepper.
Palate: Leads with the smoke—more char and tar here—with lime coming in behind. On the second and third sips the lime is up front with the smoke, and it’s more acidic on the whole than the nose. The mouthfeel is just a bit thin (despite the strength). With time it gets quite spicy—both cracked black pepper and Talisker-style chilli pepper. With more time it’s quite a bit fruitier (musky citrus). Fruitier with water and saltier too.
Finish: Long. The smoke expands on the finish and the char and tar are more obvious again. More phenolic still as it goes and the finish seems to expand even more. With water the tar gets pushed back a bit and the fruit hangs out longer—more vanilla here too now and the salt persists as well.
Comments: Well, this does indeed continue the positive trajectory of Batch 006. I liked the nose right away (and probably most when first poured); the palate took a little longer to come along—it was a little unintegrated at first—but once it did, it improved rapidly. There’s still more vanilla here than in the early batches but it’s very good anyway—if this note is here to stay in the contemporary Laphroaig profile I don’t really mind too much when it’s as balanced with phenolic peat and fruit as it is here. Here’s to more good Laphroaig in the new year and a quick release of Batch 009 to calm our nerves.
Rating: 88 points.