Laphroaig 13, 1998 (A.D. Rattray)

Having begun this week of reviews of sherried Laphroaigs with a recent official release (the 2022 release of the Sherry Oak), let me now get back to my annoyingly untimely ways. This is a 13 yo that was distilled in 1998 and bottled by A.D. Rattray in 2011 from a single sherry butt. I purchased it from the Whisky Exchange in August 2011, opened it in September and finished it in August 2012, just over half a year before starting this blog. In those days, however, as I’ve mentioned before, it was my standard practice to save 6 oz reference samples from bottles I liked so I could drink them again years down the road. Predictably I forgot about most of these 6 oz samples over the next decade. In recent years I’ve been making an effort to drink them up and now they’re almost all gone. This was one of the few remaining Laphroaig reference samples from that period that I still had. I assumed I’d already reviewed it but it turned out I hadn’t. It was still in very good condition and so here are some notes from the last two ounces.

Laphroaig 13, 1998 (63.9%; A.D. Rattray; sherry butt 800017; from a reference sample)

Nose: Ashy smoke mixed with smouldering leaves and brandied raisins. On the second sniff there’s quite a bit of salt, some cereal. The smoke gets more phenolic with each sniff. With more time there’s some roasted pork with a sweet glaze and just a bit of pencil lead; more char too (pork, not oak). More char with a few drops of water but also some fruit (a mix of dried orange peel and plum).

Palate: Comes in hot as expected but not closed: big phenolic smoke, coarsely cracked pepper, salt, a bit of the raisins. More salt with each sip and the brandied raisins from the nose emerge as well. With time the pencil lead shows up here as well and also the sweet meaty notes. Okay, let’s add a bit of water. Ah yes, lots of orange peel here as well and it merges nicely with the smoke. Get sweeter as it sits again (pipe tobacco).

Finish: Long. The smoke billows for a bit and when it subsides the salt comes out in a big way. Develops as on the palate. Less salty with water and mostly as on the palate.

Comments: As I said, this sample was in very good condition. However, it has mellowed a bit since I poured the first couple of ounces from the 6 oz jar late last year and I think I like it even more now than I did last November—and certainly more than I did when I first opened the bottle in 2011: my spreadsheet records that I gave it 85 points then. Anyway, this is quite a bit better than the Sherry Oak, not least because the oak barely registers here.

Rating: 88 points.



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