Last week’s series of reviews of recent Old Particular/K&l releases ended with a Ledaig 15 that I quite liked. Let’s keep that peat blast going this week with three reviews of smoky whiskies from Islay. First up is a Laphroaig, the Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength, to be exact.
I try to stay as current on the Laphroaig 10 CS as I can. I’ve reviewed every batch release from 001 to 012 and very rarely has it disappointed me. I’ve been waiting for Batch 013 to hit Minnesota for a while now. It was released in 2021 but I only saw it on local shelves a month or two ago. Meanwhile, Batch 014 and Batch 015 are both out as well, and as per Whiskybase were both also released in 2021. Indeed, Batch 014 seems to have been released in the US too—there’s a 750 ml bottle listed on Whiskybase. I’ve no idea when that will come to Minnesota but am happy nonetheless to be able to review Batch 013. Let’s get to it.
Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 013 (57.9%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Big wave of phenols (Dettol) and salt with cereals and lemon in the background. More of the same on the second sniff with even more salt; and then some more fruit begins to emerge (tart-sweet apple, a hint of charred pineapple). Water pushes the phenols back a bit and pulls out more char here as well along with more lemon. Some sweetness too now (vanilla).
Palate: More char in the smoke at the start here and it’s not as salty or acidic. Slightly sweet heading to the finish. Quite approachable at full strength but the texture is a touch thin. On the second and third sips the smoke begins to turn bitter and there’s a bit of liquid smoke about it all. The fruit from the nose really isn’t present here. Let’s see if air and water make it more interesting. With time some of the lemon comes out but the smoke is just too bitter—cigarette ash plus heavy wood char. Water pulls out more of the lemon but the bitterness is still quite pronounced with more oak in here now.
Finish: Long. The smoke linger for a while, equal parts char and phenols. The lemon and salt re-emerge at the end. The lemon expands with water and the whole gets a bit sweeter.
Comments: Neat, I loved the salt+phenols blast on the nose but on the palate it was just a bit too much of a blunt instrument: heavy char and not much else. Water didn’t do much for the palate and blunted a fair bit of what I liked about the nose. A good one for an evening when you want a bit blast of peat, nuance be damned, but I have very few of those evenings these days. I’ll be curious to see if this improves as the bottle gets more air.
Rating: 84 points.