Laphroaig 13, 1998 (van Wees)

Let’s keep the peated-sherried thing going. Here is a review of a high-octane Laphroaig bottled by van Wees in the Netherlands in late 2011. As I mentioned in my review of yesterday’s Ledaig, the word on the street is that Signatory is the source of much of van Wees’ releases—and indeed the numbering convention of this cask seems to map onto that of Signatory’s Ledaig casks. That’s neither here nor there, I suppose. This came out at a time in 2011/2012 when there seemed to be a lot of 13 year old Laphroaig about. I’ve reviewed a few of them—see the bourbon cask releases from Archives and Malts of Scotland; and also  sherry cask releases from Kintra Whisky and yes, another van Wees. I really liked that other van Wees cask (700394 to this one’s 700348). I only have vague memories of this bottle, which I finished before starting the blog, and I think in my head I had run it together with the Kintra Whisky bottle, which I’d found a bit too rough. And so I’m curious to renew this one’s acquaintance (I’d saved a 6 oz sample from the top of the bottle, as had been my wont in those days). God knows there’s not as much indie Laphroaig available now and the price of sherried Laphroaig has risen sharply. 

Laphroaig 13, 1998 (61.5%; van Wees; sherry butt 700348; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)

Nose: A rough mix of peat smoke and alcohol and leafy notes to start. There’s some cereal in there too and below that a phenolic, inky undertow. As it sits the alcohol burns off a bit, the smoke turns ashier and meatier and quite a bit of pencil lead emerges to join it. Gets nuttier as it sits and there’s also reduced beef stock and dried mushrooms. Water pushes the smoke back and brings out some paraffin

Palate: Starts out sweet and then the smoke comes rushing up to take over: ashy, inky, leafy all at once. Surprisingly drinkable at full strength. On the second sip there’s a fair bit of orange peel and lemon. The smoke just keeps building with every sip. With a lot more time it starts to get sweeter (caramel, apricot jam) but the char is never far away. With water there’s more char and more pepper but less smoke.

Finish: Long. Raisins and then expanding salt. Gets saltier as it sits and there some charred meat and cracked black pepper as well. Less salt, more char with water.

Comments: Oh, this is much better than I remember. Rough but in a good way—though I do think it has mellowed a bit in the 6 years or so that these 6 ounces have sat in a sample jar.

Rating: 88 points.


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