Everything I have,
Hey, you may be a little old for being told to throw your hands up in the air, but this Laphroaig just doesn't care. Consistently one of my most recommended distilleries, Laphroaig makes more whisky than any other distillery on Islay by far. They're just some worka-whisky-holics over there, but the craft shows. Laphroaig Quarter Cask is a regular feature in my Friday's Finest series, and last year's Cairdeas expression (matured in port wood) was the runner up to my most Highley Recommended single malt whisky. Laphroaig's table is always a blast at whisky shows, by the way. Friends of Laphraoig who've claimed their "own square foot of Islay" can always ask for what's under the table (or in the boot - trust me) for a taste of something special. It's how I came to describe Laphroaig's 25 year old whisky as "strawberry fields forever" last year. Someday I'll own a bottle. Someday.
I recently hosted a private world whisky tasting with friends and family. We went through a lineup of single malts from St. Louis, Missouri (J.J. Neukomm, cherry wood smoked), Tasmania (Sullivan's Cove American Oak), India (Amrut Fusion), Japan (Hakushu 12yo), and Scotland (SCN bottlings of Glen Moray and Laphroaig). It is telling that this whisky was the biggest crowd pleaser, the real highlight of the evening. As I make my notes on this whisky (in between grilling up some St. Louis ribs), you should know that this bottle screams typical Single Cask Nation in its approach. At only 6 years old, this is a completely different Laphroaig than you're used to. I famously describe it as "the naked Laphroaig," naturally beautiful, ready for the artist's sketch. It is Laphroaig at its most elemental, without any pretext or assumption.
The nose is a beachside BBQ bonfire. There are seaweed rolls, and lamb chops, and kebab, all over a propane grill while the surf crashes just yards away. I'm hard pressed to think of a more obviously maritime presentation, only it's not fishy, and the only dampness is the gristle of sand between your toes. This is one of the cleanest, purest Islays I've come across. The refill hogshead is just pencil shavings in the background. The iodine is powerful, classic Laphroaig, smothered all over with the sensation of a hospital OR that just burnt to the ground.
The palate entry roils across your tongue like a rogue wave, bringing with it clouds of BBQ ash and barrel char. However - surprise, surprise - the fire quickly dissipates into a sweet little sugar bomb! It's like you sprinkled tons of sugar onto heavily caramelized red pepper and then just chomped into it. Juices and pepper char flow between your gums. Delicious clean peat clings to the roof of your mouth like a newly roasted marshmallow. Save this one for block party summer, folks; she's a real beaut!
Believe it or not, there was a time when this whisky was "just another Islay" to me. Until I collected a boatload of Islay. Then I realized: they just don't bottle them like this. This is a true highlight of the independent bottler experience, and I think its relatively modest price point makes this a steal.
I don't want to tease too much, but I just can't help myself as I'm sampling whiskies and grilling away. The whisky fairy came today :-) Stand by for my notes on this sherry bomb Glen Moray!
Tasting is a synesthetic experience. In this blog, every whisky gets a song - one that describes, suits, and evokes. I review any whisky that suits my fancy, and some that don't. I don't give scores. You'll know whether it's a winner or loser when we peel back its mysteries and start putting pen to paper.