Here is another untimely review of a bourbon cask, peated Islay whisky released in 2013. This is a bit older than last week’s Bowmore and was released not by Malts of Scotland but by the lads at Whiskybase under their Archives label. It was part of a set of releases that marked the first anniversary of the launch of the Archives line—hence the “Anniversary Release” moniker (at least I think that’s what the anniversary was of). I own a couple more of these Anniversary Release bottles (a 22 yo Caol Ila and a 22 yo Littlemill) but given how long it has taken me to open this one, I’ve no idea when I will get around to those. This was their second release of a teenaged, bourbon cask Laphroaig. There was a 13 yo in their first release (I reviewed it a while ago). I can tell you that this one is as good as that one was: I opened it last month for a tasting of peated whiskies for my local group and I’ve drunk down the rest of the bottle at a very rapid clip. As I type this introduction only a couple more pours remain. Here are my notes.
Laphroaig 14, 1988 (53.8%; Archives “Anniversary Release”; bourbon hogshead #5619; from my own bottle)
Nose: Bright phenolic peat with lemon and cereals. Gets more carbolic as it sits. After a bit there’s some vanilla and a hint of melon. Water brings out a lot of salt; everything else is still here behind it.
Palate: Leads with the lemon with the phenol coming in swinging behind. Ashy smoke and then some salt. The vanilla’s not very apparent here to start. Everything gets more integrated with every sip. Not much change or development but it’s fine just as it is. Okay, let’s see what water does. Gets saltier here too and less phenolic.
Finish: Medium. Smokiest here and picks up some white pepper as well. More and more char at the end with every sip. Water pushes back the smoke.
Comments: This is exactly why I maintain that teenaged, bourbon cask Laphroaig is quintessential Laphroaig. I don’t mean that I object to sherried Laphroaig or older Laphroaig: only that this is the age/cask type combo in which Laphroaig is least like the other peated Islays, and also least likely to disappoint. If I’d opened this bottle when I’d purchased it, I would have bought another. Ah well. I preferred it neat.
Rating: 88 points.