It has been a few months since my last Laphroaig review—that was of a 21 yo bottled by the SMWS in 2016 or 2017. Today’s Laphroaig is also an indie release but it’s quite a bit younger at 8 years old. Oh yes, I should have started out by noting that it is a Laphroaig. Williamson—presumably named for the legendary Bessie Williamson of Laphroaig—seems to be the name under which independent Laphroaigs are now being released. When this started, I’m not quite sure. And as long as good indie Laphroaig continues to be available I won’t really care very much under what name it’s sold. As the label says “single malt” I’m going to assume this is not a teaspooned malt. Though I did read recently—perhaps on the Malt Maniacs F&F Facebook group—that casks that leave distilleries having been teaspooned for the indie market may not always be noted as such at release. As to whether that’s legal, I don’t know. I’d assume Berry Bros. & Rudd would play by the rules. Anyway, let’s see what this is like.
By the way, does anyone know if there was a release of Laphroaig 10 CS in the US in 2020? I guess it would have been Batch 012? I haven’t really been checking stores through the pandemic but if anyone knows that it’s available in MN do drop me a line.
Williamson 8, 2012 (60.4%; Berry Bros. & Rudd; cask 224; from my own bottle)
Nose: A big phenolic wallop off the top; some mild youthful notes (mezcal) but more prominent are lemon, ham brine and after a bit, cereals.The citrus expands as it sits and blends very well with the iodine. The cereals move in the direction of vanilla and there’s a faint hint of muskier fruit under the citrus. Gets quite salty as it sits. A squirt of water knocks the mezcal back and brings out more carbolic notes (Dettol) and mixes in some grilled pineapple with the lemon.
Palate: Comes in hot as expected but quite expressive and approachable anyway. The youth is more present here in the form of the mezcal but so is everything else from the nose. The smoke turns ashy as I swallow. After a while there’s quite a bit of pepper mixed in with the smoke and then the salt too. Alright, time to add water. Water doesn’t do away with the youthful notes completely here but pulls out more acid, more pepper and more ash.
Finish: Long. The ashy smoke continues for a good while; the lemon pops back out to join it. At the very end there’s pepper and finally the ash again (cigarette ash now). Saltier here too with time. As on the palate with water at first and then the smoke gets more tarry.
Comments: This is far better than I expected and far better than a 8 yo whisky has a right to be. The mezcal aside this is pretty textbook young bourbon cask Laphroaig and hints at qualities that might show to even greater advantage with another 4-7 years of aging. If I’m still drinking as much whisky in 4-7 years I’ll try to remember to look out for ex-bourbon Laphroaig from this era.
Rating: 87 points.