Laphroaig 18, 1998 (Cadenhead)

Another Islay whisky. This Laphroaig 18 was bottled in 2017 by Cadenhead. Like the 12 yo OMC release I recently reviewed it is from a bourbon cask. I was expecting to like that younger cask a lot but was a little underwhelmed by its unidimensional, heavy smoke. Will this 18 yo bear out my usual confidence in teenaged ex-bourbon Laphroaig? Let’s see.

Laphroaig 18, 1998 (55.9%; Cadenhead; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Ah yes, this is the Laphroaig I love—big phenolic smoke but interlaced with acidic fruit (lime) and a bit of cereal. The smoke is pungent but the fruit is unmistakable too (with time there’s pear and melon as well). With more time some vanilla pops up too but it’s not obtrusive. Water brings the acid out to the front, pulls out a bit more of the vanilla; and there’s a briny, hammy quality to it too now. 

Palate: Big smoke to lead here too but the lime comes cutting through it as well. Very drinkable at full strength. On the second sip the lime is dominant and there’s some salt to go with it. Some vanilla here too with time. Goes on in this vein. Let’s see what water brings out. Pretty much as on the nose but sweeter here with more vanilla.

Finish: Long. The smoke and lime go on for a while, with the cereal emerging again at the end. With time there’s an increased ashiness at the end. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Is it possible to make limeade with smoked limes? Might taste something like this. The lime and the smoke are intertwined, each shading and emphasizing the other. Much better than just all-out smoke. Still, missing some complexity/development; some muskier fruit and this would be in the next tier. I liked it better with water.

Rating: 88 points.

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