My last whisky review of August was of a Ledaig. Let’s get September off to a peaty start as well. We’ll stay with the Ls but move from the Isle of Mull to the Isle of Islay for my second review of an officially released Laphroaig in less than two months—and to think people say I review only esoteric whiskies…
Unlike July’s review of the 2009 release of the Triple Wood, this 16 yo is far more current. It was first released as a limited edition travel retail bottle as part of Laphroaig’s 200th anniversary but, as often happens these days, soon became part of Laphroaig’s regular stable. It’s made from whisky matured in ex-bourbon casks, I believe and bottled at 48%. As far as I can make out it goes for about $100 in most markets in the US—though I’ve seen references to a much higher price as well. $100 for a 16 yo at 48% is probably not too outrageous a price in this market (which is not to say it’s a reasonable price) but closer to the $140 I’ve seen mentioned here and there it becomes much harder to support no matter how good the whisky itself is. Speaking of which, let’s get to it.
Laphroaig 16 (48%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Very clean, carbolic peat with a fair bit of fruit coming out from below it (sweet citrus, melon). Some green olives on the second sniff and then it begins to get more coastal. With more time it begins to get sweeter with quite a bit of vanilla and cream; and the smoke becomes ashier; the citrus is still here too. A few drops of water and there’s more citrus (lime peel) and the whole gets a little muskier.
Palate: Comes in ashy and unfortunately a little bit thin both in terms of flavour and texture. It tastes a bit like I imagine an ashtray with cigarette ash might do if filled with water. Indeed, it’s quite a bit more watery in general on the second and third sips. With more time and air it begins to come together a bit better, picking up more depth and more fruit—and the texture improves too. Okay, let’s see what water does. It keeps the positive trajectory going, giving it more depth and oomph still. Now there’s more citrus here too and quite a bit of pepper to go with it.
Finish: Medium-long. The fruit begins to pop out here again as the ash/smoke subsides. Longer and, on the whole, as on the palate with water.
Comments: This came in very strongly on the nose and then faltered on the palate to start. Time, air and water were good to it, however, and it recovered very well even if it never quite hit the highs there as the initial entry on the nose had suggested it might. It’s very possible the bottle this came from had been open for a while with a fair bit of air in it. If you have a bottle you’ve drunk down over time I’d be very interested to read how it changed/developed for you. On the whole, I thought this was quite good but nothing I need to pay $140 for.
Rating: 87 points.