Laphroaig 9, 2013 (Single Malts of Scotland)

The Highland Park 28, 1980 that I ended last week’s series of reviews of late 2000s Mackillop’s Choice releases was quite peaty but not phenolic. This week will be pretty peaty and phenolic. All the whiskies this week will be peated Islay releases. And what’s more they’ll be from the three distilleries from Islay’s south shore: Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. I’ll take them in that order, which is also the order in which you’d encounter the distilleries if you set out from Port Ellen on the A846. A young Laphroaig will kick things off. This was bottled by the Whisky Exchange’s spin-off company, Elixir Distillers for their Single Malts of Scotland label (which they inherited from the parent company). I believe this was an exclusive for the US market. It’s from a single bourbon hogshead. Generally with young Laphroaig, ex-bourbon casks are a good bet; and as Single Malts of Scotland has historically been a pretty reliable label, I am hopeful. Let’s hope this doesn’t make me regret giving hope a chance.

Laphroaig 9, 2013 (58.2%; Single Malts of Scotland; hogshead 188; from a bottle split)

Nose: Prickly, phenolic peat off the top. Brighter on the second sniff with lemon and Dettol and sweeter notes (a mix of vanilla, cereals and olives); some pencil lead in there too. With more time there’s some pepper as well (a mix of black pepper and green capsaicin notes). The vanilla expands as it sits. A few drops of water push the vanilla back and pull put more of the carbolic peat.

Palate: Comes in sweet and meaty with ashy smoke coming up behind. Hot but not unapproachable at full strength with good texture. Gets sweeter with each sip (vanilla) and there’s more signs of youth here than on the nose (hints of mezcal). With time the tar pops out earlier. Water pulls out more of the lemon and the salt, gets the sweetness under control and melds everything nicely.

Finish: Long. The phenolic notes yield to pepper and vanilla. Gets a little bitter (tar) at the end. As on the palate with water.

Comments: A young Laphroaig that, taken neat, shows its youth and cask influence on the palate but improves with water (not surprising given the strength). But I wouldn’t pay the price being asked for it (north of $100); not when the official 10 yo CS costs a lot less.

Rating: 85 points. (Pulled up by water.)



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