Tag Archives: laphroaig

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Review

Distiller: Laphroaig. Region: Islay. ABV: 51.2%. No age statement. Price: $80.

We’re nearing that time of the year when pumpkins lead to turkeys, which lead to elves on shelves and best-of lists litter the proverbial ground like so much left-over Halloween candy. And since I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, now seemed the appropriate time to let it fly.

I’m not going to bury the lead. With just over two months left in 2016, Laphroaig’s Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask is the best new single malt I’ve tasted this year.

I loved Ardbeg’s Dark Cove (and fully plan on buying a bottle or two or three), but the Cairdeas 2016 just hits every one of my happy-happy-joy-joy spots.

There’s a faint scent of raspberry on the nose, which melds beautifully with the expected peat and ash, along with crispy smoked pork and the usual slightly medicinal aromas.

The palate has a delicate layer of brine, which works just wonderfully with the peat. I caught more of that slow-roasted meat around the edges, along with some spice and an ever-so-light citrus.

And, man, the finish is something to rave about all by itself. It’s quite long, which allowed me to linger on the roasted lemons, peat, and red wine that came to the fore.

All that’s left to say is that I heartily encourage anyone to discover it, but if you’re an Islay lover like me, this and the Dark Cove are the absolute must-haves of 2016.

There’s still around 65 days left in the year, so I’m not saying it’s my absolute favorite of the year, but there’s little question that it’ll crack my top five.

Here’s to beauty and complexity in our spirits, both those we drink, and those we have within. – TM

Laphroaig Select Review

Distiller: Laphroaig. Region: Islay. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Price: $50-60.

As most Axis readers will know, I’m an Islay malt fanatic. For me, these whiskies are the pinnacle of the craft. Drinks that draw from the land for both inspiration and history. The kind that force contemplation of nature with every sip. And lately, there’s so much great stuff coming from Islay. From Ardbeg’s Dark Cove to the ongoing great work by Bruichladdich to the ever impressive Lagavulin Distiller’s Editions, these distilleries continue to innovate, while also honoring their heritage. And no one’s doing it better these days than Laphroaig.

I reviewed the Laphroaig Lore some months back and adored every sip, although (spoiler alert) I loved the Cairdeas 2016 even more. That’s vaulted into one of my all-time favorites–and a review is forthcoming.

But it would be a shame if the Laphroaig Select got lost in the glories of the Cairdeas and the Lore. It’s not a traditional Laphroaig, to be sure. It’s softer, which you’d expect from a whisky that finishes the standard 10-year-old in new American Oak, then blends in the Quarter Cask, the PX, and the Triple Wood, adding some Oloroso sherry influence. Think of it as the end of a summer beach bonfire. There’s smoke, but it’s easy to digest and it heralds the advent of fall and richness coming from the earth.

Okay, enough with the poetry. On to the review. There’s oh-so subtle peat on the nose, along with ripe plum and a hint of dry oak. The palate, initially, was underwhelming, but as I’ve enjoyed more of the bottle, its beauty has blossomed. There’s the most delicate peat imaginable, along with marzipan, slight citrus, and rich oak. And befitting a Laphroaig, there’s oak and sherry on the beautifully sustained finish.

I know there are reasons that hardcore Islay fans may dismiss this one as “Laphroaig Light,” but to me it’s a wonderfully divergent strain of a whisky that I’ll never tire of trying.

Cheers, friends! – TM

Buy Laphroaig online at Mash + Grape

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Laphroaig Lore Review

Distiller: Laphroaig. Region: Islay. ABV: 48%. No age statement. Price: $100-125.

As many of you know, I’m a sucker for the Islay malts. While Lagavulin remains my desert island whisky, I’ve long and deeply loved the various offerings from Laphroaig. So when I heard about the distillery’s newest release, I was deeply intrigued.

Billed as the richest expression yet, the Laphroaig Lore is the brainchild of Distillery Manager John Campbell, who oversaw the cask selection. The whisky is intended to honor the range of ways that Laphroaig has been made over its 200-year history. It consists of whiskies that have been aged in quarter, sherry, and reused peated casks, and which range in age from 7 to 21 years old. There’s some controversy over the price for what amounts to a 7+ year old whisky, but for me, it’s all about the taste. What would you pay for greatness?

And make no bones about it: for me, this is a great Laphroaig. I caught beach bonfire, peat funk, and sweet lemon on the nose. The palate was an explosion of melding flavors: peat, ash, green apples carmelized, and well-defined citrus. The finish has more sweetness than the rest, but it’s an Islay malt all the way. Peat is sustained throughout against a backdrop of citrus. The smoke lingers and carries you to your next dram.

Is it worth the price? For me, it all comes down to whether you love it, and for how long you’ll be able to find it. I loved it, and though it’s intended as a permanent addition to Laphroaig’s range, I’ll definitely be searching for another bottle.

Sláinte, friends! – TM

Buy Laphroaig online at Mash + Grape

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Laphroaig 15 Review

Distiller: Laphroaig. ABV: 43%. Region: Islay. Price: $80-100.

I found my new favorite Laphroaig.

This year’s 200th Anniversary 15-year-old bottling is something special. That starts with the design work of David Cole, who contributed the lovely picture of the bottle and tube he designed for this release. (See more of his work here.) It elevates and dignifies the classic Laphroaig look, just distinctively enough for a special release, without calling attention to itself unnecessarily. Just right.

What’s in the bottle may be the most balanced Laphroaig I’ve ever had. First released 30 years ago, but discontinued in favor of the 18-year-old until this year’s anniversary release, the 15 is far tamer than the standard 10 or even the milder Triple Wood and Quarter Cask–both great in their own right. Laphroaig itself says that the barrels for the 15 were traditionally chosen for a “particularly rounded and mellow flavor.”

It shows. The nose is a delight. Yes, some peat of course, but so much more: lemon custard, wet hay, candied pecans, a grassy field after a rain. Gorgeous. All of these on the palate, with far less iodine and briny maritime notes than its younger siblings. The finish add a little bitter lemon zest that’s just perfect.

A very worthy release for a very big anniversary. Grab one if you can, and check out the other great spirits branding and design work by David Cole at his website. Sláinte, friends! -BO

Buy Laphroaig 15 online at Mash + Grape

Laphroaig 30 Review

Distiller: Laphroaig. Region: Islay. ABV 43%. Age: 30 years.

The 30-year-old Laphroaig. For a peat fanatic, this is a towering achievement. An absolute must if you can ever find it–not because it’s so peaty, but because the peat is so perfectly melded into the whole experience. What better way to celebrate the distillery’s 200th anniversary in 2015?

The nose brings a glorious combination of fruit, oak, sherry, and peat. The palate is an unbelievably smooth peat, along with a subtle hint of spice. The finish is consistent with the whole; warming, inviting, confident.

Very glad to have sampled this now largely lost classic. Cheers, friends! – TM

Buy Laphroaig online at Mash + Grape