Laphroaig 9, 2001 (SMWS)


I started out the week with a review of a 21 yo official Laphroaig. Let’s close out the week’s whisky reviews—and also the month—with a review of a young independent Laphroaig. This is a 9 year old bottled in 2010 by the SMWS. I got a sample in a swap not too long after. I have no memory of who I got it from though: if someone who is reading recognizes their handwriting on this label, please let me know. Confusingly, I also have a full bottle of this—and I’ve not recorded the source of that either (I am not a member of the SMWS). It’s possible that I received two separate samples, tasted one and tracked down a bottle. Or perhaps I traded for a sample and then decided I didn’t need to taste it to pull the trigger on a bottle. In those days it was hard for me to turn down opportunities to buy any affordable Laphroaigs, particularly ones matured in sherry casks as this one was. Well, however, I came to get it, here I am finally opening up this sample. Let’s see if it lives up to the name the SMWS gave it.

Laphroaig 9, 2001 (60.9%; SMWS 29.88 “What a Magnificent and Handsome Nose”; refill sherry butt; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Ah yes, a harmonious blend of big phenolic smoke and big raisiny sherry. Some pipe tobacco in there too and on the second sniff a lot of salt and some graphite. Some softer notes emerge–cream—but otherwise stays quite consistent with time. More cream with a few drops of water and a bit of lime

Palate: As promised by the nose, which is to say, lovely. Surprisingly drinkable at full strength. Not much change with air and time. Let’s see what water does. More acid here too with water and also more sweetness (think charred fatty pork).

Finish: Long. The smoke expands, becoming more phenolic as it continues to billow. Some char and cracked black pepper at the end. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Just excellent. As good as you would want a young whisky to be, and an excellent example of how good the marriage of heavy peat and sherry can be. Despite the sherry this is still recognizably Laphroaig. Perhaps some off the off notes of youth have been sawed off by the sherry, but it’s the phenolic quality that’s in charge here. Time and a few drops of water bring complexity and pull it up into the next tier. Very glad indeed that I have a full bottle.

Rating: 90 points.

Thanks to whoever I got this from.

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