Laphroaig 19, 1990, Cask 89 (Signatory)

After a week of reviews that featured whiskies distilled in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (a Strathisla, a Ledaig, and two Karuizawas), let’s do a week of whiskies distilled in the 1990s. First up, is a Laphroaig 19 bottled by Signatory in 2009 or 2010. This is cask 89. Signatory had bottled cask 90 for Binny’s in Chicago—and that was a whisky I absolutely loved. And so when I had the chance to get a sample of the sibling cask in a swap, I went for it (this was not bottled for Binny’s but for the EU market). But I obviously didn’t get around to actually drinking it: I’ve held on to this sample for the better part of a decade now. But I’m on a mission these days to work through my extensive library of forgotten whisky samples; and so here I am finally with notes on this Laphroaig. And this reminds me that I have a second bottle of cask 90 sitting on my shelves too. Maybe I’ll open that one in December and see if I still like it as much as I did the first bottle almost 10 years ago.

Laphroaig 19, 1990, Cask 89 (53.1%; Signatory; bourbon barrel 89; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Starts off with a mix of mild, dry peat and sweeter notes of cereal and vanilla. Opens up quickly in the glass with an expanding phenolic wave (Dettol, ink) mixed with kelp and oyster brine. Softer with a few drops of water (cream, vanilla) and there’s some lemon curd as well.

Palate: Dry smoke to start on the palate as well and then tarrier, inkier smoke as I swallow. Hits harder than the abv would suggest. Gets inkier with each sip and also spicier (cracked pepper, a hint of aniseed, cinnamon) and tarrier. Water softens the palate too, pushing the tar and the oaky spicy notes back and accentuating pepper and lemon.

Finish: Long. The inky notes expand and the smoke gets tarrier here too with each sip. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Starts out mild but turns into a big bruiser on the palate. Neat, I liked the more subtle nose more than the palate; water evened it out though. Not as good as I remember cask 90 as being but I should put that to the test soon.

Rating: 88 points.

Thanks to Erik for the sample!


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