I am the person you come to for timely reviews of very recently released whiskies. On Monday I posted my review of the limited edition 8 yo released by Ardbeg last year. Today I have for you a review of the sherry finished 10 yo also released last year by one of Ardbeg’s neighbours to the slight southwest: Laphroaig. My understanding is that this is basically the regular 10 yo Laphroaig “finished” for a short period in oloroso sherry casks. Which would distinguish it from the previous Triple Wood and PX releases, both of which involved quarter cask maturation and also lacked any age statement. I suppose it’s also possible that the 10 years of maturation includes a longer period spent in sherry casks but nothing I’ve seen in my desultory googling substantiates this possibility. If you know definitively one way or the other, please do write in below. Apart from the sherry involvement this also differs from the regular 10 yo in being bottled at 48% abv and costing quite a bit more—though not as much more as you might expect: Wine-Searcher shows prices in the US as “low” as $65. I think this did come to Minnesota as well but in the pandemic I did not manage to rouse myself to look for a bottle. Will this sample make me regret my lack of energy? Let’s see.
Laphroaig 10, Sherry Oak, 2021 Release (48%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Big leafy smoke with sweet notes of charred meat and some cereals. More phenolic with every sniff but not tarry or “dark” as much as ashy and dry. A big vein of pencil lead pops out after a minute or so along with a fair bit of salt. The orange peel emerges here too with time. Two or three drops of water and the phenols recede some and it softens on the whole: some malt coming through now along with the cereals.
Palate: Comes in sweet with the charred meat. The char expands as I swallow and the pencil lead pops out here as well. A good drinking strength and texture. No off notes whatsoever: no rubber and no sulphur of any kind that I can detect. On the second sip the charred meat begins to edge into sweet pipe tobacco and citrus begins to emerge (sweet orange peel—almost a bit Cointreau’ish). Continues in this charred/sweet vein which is nothing to complain about. Okay, let’s see what water does. As on the nose, it pushes the phenols back; more acid here now and then pepper heading to the finish.
Finish: Long. The char keeps going and going, getting drier with time. The orange peel becomes dried here. With water it’s all about cracked pepper.
Comments: I really like this. There’s no complexity to speak of but it’s a good honest Laphroaig and the finish does not feel bolted on in the slightest. And yes, it’s very close to the 2009 Triple Wood; no reason to give it a different score. Have to look for it in Minnesota: if you live here and have seen it in the wild, do drop me a note.
Rating: 87 points.