Here’s the next whisky from the set of bottle splits I got in on of Hunter Laing’s releases to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Old Malt Cask label. I very much liked yesterday’s Arran 21, 1997, and all signs point to a strong likelihood that I will like this one a lot as well. Laphroaig is my favourite distillery and I have noted on many an occasion that my general feeling is that the sweet spot of Laphroaig is in ex-bourbon casks aged for 10-15 years. Let’s see if that holds up.
Laphroaig 12, 2006 (50%; Old Malt Cask 20th Anniv. Release; cask 17094; from a bottle split)
Nose: A big wave of peat and smoke with mezcal’ish notes mixed with the phenolic (Dettol). Not much of the cereal note that I like a lot in most bourbon cask Laphroaigs of this age. On the second sniff those mezcal’ish notes have taken a rubbery turn (rubber bands) and the smoke has some bitter, ashy edges. A couple of drops of water pull out faint musky notes.
Palate: Big smoke here on arrival and it’s ashy and sweet at first before turning bitter as I swallow. Nice texture. Even smokier on the second sip and while I catch a hint of some muskier notes, they can’t emerge past the clouds of smoke. Let’s see if water pulls them out. Sweeter with water and there’s a touch of lime but the smoke is still big and dominant.
Finish: Long. The smoke keeps billowing, turning first to cigarette butts and then to doused charcoal. Less char with water.
Comments: This is a big smoky Laphroaig, especially on the palate. It’s just a bit too blunt of an instrument for my liking and the smokiness too much of the stale cigarette ash variety. Some softer counterpoints are needed, whether of the cereal or fruity variety. By the way, a cask like this is a good illustration of how ppm counts are not the be-all and end-all of what makes whisky smoky. I’d guess this cask was part of a regular Laphroaig run but the smoke is more intensely smoky than most Octomores I’ve had (with much higher ppm ratings). I’d guess something happened or didn’t happen in this cask as a result of which the smoke is amplified. Okay, let’s hope the next OMC 20th anniversary cask is better.
Rating: 83 points.