A bunch of reasons I like Laphroaig

No funny start. No explanation, nothing.

I’m here and you’re here for the exact same reason. Laphroaig. Are you a peat head? You like Laphroaig, probably. And you haven’t been as wallet sodomized (with your consent) by Laphroaig, unless it’s got an age statement typically reserved for that point where life starts making a bit more sense (late 20s).

So let’s get into it. These are a bunch of Laphroaigs I’ve had this year. I haven’t had time to post the reviews, so let’s dive in.


What is you had multiple casks of ex-Madeira matured Laphroaig with decent age on it? Well you’d have a Cairdeas release going on.

But damn, we have other casks too… Guess they didn’t “fit” with the style. Better sell them off to an independent buyer, right?

Enter the result, Laphroaig – Lp8 – Elements of Islay. Like the dragon, but younger, and less punching and movies. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: $240 CAD

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1998

Bottled: 2017

Age: 19-years-old

Casks Used: Three ex-Madeira Wine Casks

Abv: 53.5%

Colour: 5YR 5/10

Nose: Brown sugar, herbal, whipped cream, strawberry, orange zest

Starts out simple, though nice. Builds slowly up with cream, some sugar, gets some tartness and balances out quite well.

Perhaps the wine influence is stronger here? I think so. Not a lot of peat on the nose, more of the fruit and tartness.

Taste: Potato chips, salted caramel, thyme, anise, strawberry, hazelnut

Sweet, potato, and salt. So I guess earth, some sweetness, and some salt, and just different themes on that with spice and fruit popping up.

Tasty, in other words. The above is tasty.

Finish: Shortbread cookies, charcoal, cinnamon, thyme, brine, chocolate, strawberry, ginger

The other day I bought a chocolate chip cookie that looked too good to be true. Each chocolate chip was individually placed on the top, it was a very white looking cookie (as in no brown sugar in it) and I assumed it was going to be dry but turns out it was just made by the amazing baker’s son who is meticulous as fuck and hot damn.

So yeah, that lighter, no molasses cookie. Or shortbread. Yeah, buttery shortbread. Heck, I could go on the finish having all of these different subtle flavours, but you get the idea and I don’t have to talk about each one.

Conclusion: A subtle, gingerbread driven cookie-flavoured dram. Sweet, light, nothing too rough, tons of complexity going on. Nothing ever hit that come-to-Thor moment where your tastebuds are hit by lightning and your pants get tight, however the whole thing was fun to drink.

So yeah, Madeira worked this time. Madeira worked last time. Let’s keep using Madeira is what I’m saying.

85/100


Laphroaig Cairdeas 2019 Triple Wood comes the next question: What if we took a standard, and kept some said casks at full strength.

I’ll be honest, I’m in. I get it: Master Blenders/Distillers put out something presumably at the strength they think it’s best…. Assuming the large company behind them has run the numbers and is fine with it.

I’ll bow to the first point if you bow to the second point. I’m not going to pretend finance people who did reviews on contribution margin and variable costs that I myself have to learn on a constant basis don’t have some impact on the bottom line for Abv.

So what if it tastes better at cask strength? Fun way to find out. Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $110 CAD

Region: Islay

Bottled: 19.03.2019

Cask type: Ex-Bourbon, Quarter, and Oloroso Sherry Casks

Number of bottles: 36,000

Abv: 59.5%

Colour: 2.5Y 7/8

Nose: Cherry, buttery caramel, fresh-cut pine, ash, mint

Wow, now that’s an inviting, lovely nose. Good mixture of the wood-forward notes of the quarter casks, the buttery caramel of the ex-bourbon, the spirit’s peat/ash notes, and a big ole’ blast of sherry.

Taste: Strawberry, peat, ash, buttered popcorn, brine, peanut oil, orange zest

Still has some nice flavours going on, though at this point you need the water to bring out the quarter cask influence.

However again I feel like this is unique. I am not a fan of the normal Triple Wood as much as this: I’m finding more complexity and more of the chaotic pitting of casks versus one another. You know, like when you catch animals and have them fight in bloodsport.

Pokemon in other words.

Finish: Black pepper, ash, caramel, mint, salt

Too much ash on the finish. Gets very rough, needs more sherry influence here. Just ends up being a really rough finish that doesn’t do much other than a mentholated, harsh note.

Conclusion: A really interesting, tasty dram that didn’t stick the landing, sadly. This was on it’s way to being really, really good. And then a bland, simple finish is there.

So we have to ask a few questions: Should you get this is you’re a Triple Wood fan? As I say about people who find men sexy and like group sex, yes, you should get more of that in your life.

If you don’t like the standard Triple Wood? Yes, if only to have what I think is a better dram.

If you’re really into the aftertaste on a whisky? No, unless you like tasting your drip tray after a busy weekend BBQing.

So close to being a great version of what I feel isn’t that special of a standard release. I’d love to see them try this again.

84/100


Thanks to /u/EvilAFI for this dram.

Laphroaig The 1815 Legacy Edition is asking the question: So you’re at the airport and you see whisky. Do you buy it?

For those of us who travel, or for those of us who have had travel retails, I’m going to share a quick thing to those of you who don’t: The travel retail space is where whisky duds typically end up. Sure, you can get some cool things like only one of the Octomores or Laphroaig PX there. And sometimes there’s deals. That’s all great.

But we’re not talking about that: We’re talking about the stuff you don’t get to see. That tantalizing fact that these whiskies are only available here (and on websites) and you’re sleep deprived from vacation and are ready to spend the last of your money.

So is it worth it? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: € 69 at Travel Retail

Region: Islay

Bottled: 2017

Casks Used: First-fill bourbon barrels and new European oak hogsheads

Abv: 48%

Colour: 5YR 5/10

Nose: Butter, red wine vinegar, golden syrup, brine, cinnamon buns

1815 tries hard at school however struggles in some of it’s classes.

Like that nose is simple but nice. Butter, bit of spice, simple sugar, and salt. Nothing is crazy here. It’s like your first SO post-High School. Yeah you can go over to their place but the food options are order in or stuff that you don’t actually mix together or apply too much heat to.

Taste: Sunflower, brown sugar, currant, peat, tangerine, cocoa, brine

Seedy, some fruit, some peat, some cocoa, some brine. Hits a lot of notes quickly without much of a pause. Water seems to help but it’s mostly just generic peated whisky. Which I like.

Finish: Cinnamon, nori, cereal/rice crispy, cocoa, strawberry

Medium to long finish. Good mixture of salt, cereal, developed peat and sherry. It’s working.

Conclusion: A nice, simple step up from the Laphroaig 10-year-old. I didn’t find anything that blew my mind but I also didn’t mind having this.

Is it worthy of the higher price tag or the nice casks? Questionable. I’ve had much better Laphroaigs, however they are getting harder to try so maybe.

If you normally have the 10 and the Quarter Cask and you want to have a sherry influence without breaking your bank. Do you need to have it if you’re a Laphroaig fan? No. I personally liked the PX better, but I’ve read some people liking this better so maybe I’m just a PX fanboy.

It’s sherry and peat with ex-bourbon heavy influence. It’s passing but I think others have done it a little better. And that’s why it’s in the travel retail section.

80/100


Thanks to /u/EvilAFI for this dram.

Laphroaig 20 1990 Barrel Selection Wilson & Morgan is asking the question: Do we need a cask finish? Do we need it to be cask strength? Laphroaig is good by itself and the love of it is all it needs.

And 20 years shouldn’t need all those bells and whistles, right? And I’m totally not doing this to set it all up to seem like this is false when in reality it could just be an exception, right?

Let’s get to the whisky, shall we?

Price: €300

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1990

Bottled: 2010

Cask number: 2348 + 2349

Abv: 46%

Colour: 5Y 9/8

Nose: Peach jam, corn, paper? Yeah, paper.

Not a good nose. When I’m reaching for “paper”, well… yeah, there isn’t much going on here.

Taste: Butter, roast corn, grass, peach

Hey, flavours! What a novel idea! Got more going on here, explores things like grass and roast flavours. The butter does well here. And it doesn’t forget the jam at the start.

So pretty simple, but tasty.

Finish: Apple cinnamon, brine, ginger, caramel, butter

Ok, we’re actually developing something here. Some good spice, some salt (they should have that more often in Laphroaig /end sarcasm), lots more of the butter.

Conclusion: Boring, muted, simple. Really there’s so little of the spice/smoke going on anywhere here. Blind I really wouldn’t say it’s Laphroaig. I’d just say it’s spice and butter. The nose is the biggest let down.

I don’t know why they bottled this. Wait, I have an idea: They had two casks of 20 year Laphroaig and people would buy that. I spent a chunk of my liver on it. I’d recommend you don’t, and just because Laphroaigs are typically good, doesn’t mean they all are good.

65/100


Thanks to /u/ForbiddenWaffle for this dram.

Laphroaig 20 1994 Malts of Scotland answers the question: What the sweet hell is a Banyul’s?

Banyuls is a fortified apéritif or dessert wine made from old vines cultivated in terraces on the slopes of the Catalan Pyrenees in the Roussillon county of France

There, right from Wikipedia. Fortified dessert wine from a specific region of France. But what will it do to Laphroaig? Anything? Wine casks do well… but what about Banyuls? I’ve had so few. Is there a reason for that?

Let’s see, shall we?

Price: € 200

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1994

Bottled: 2014

Cask Type: Banyuls Wine Cask Finish

Cask Number: MoS 14052

Number of bottles: 212

Abv: 57.2%

Colour: 5YR 5/8

Nose: Passionfruit, brine, buttery cinnamon buns, banana, rosemary

Tropical fruit, salty, some butter… Water opens it up to a funk and some strong herbal notes. Peat has gone to cinnamon with time, though the wine cask seems to be adding the fruit and leaving the well developed dram to shine.

Taste: Bananas foster with butterscotch ice cream, ginger, orange pith, salmon jerky

Tons of funky tropical notes, lots of butterscotch, and a ton of cream. Good spice backbone on it, well balanced, but man do I hate salmon jerky.

Also before someone mentions it: by salmon jerky I mean a strong amount of brine and smoke mixed together and that’s what I thought it tasted like.

Finish: Caramel, cloves, mineral, mint, grapefruit, burnt rosemary, pear

More caramel, spice, mint, and acidity. There’s a lot less cohesion going on. I don’t really feel like most of this is blending that well. That said…. Holy shit there’s a lot.

Kinda falls off the rail at time, lots of sharp strong notes.

Conclusion: Fun fruity dram that has some strong sweet, acidic, and mineral notes that can fly off the rails at times. Some water helps aspects and balances the caramel, but also drags out a burnt, not so great herbal note and really amps up this off note.

So is this a good Banyul whisky? I’ve so few, so it’s easily the best, but I’m still not too sure. I once hear a whisky podcast start with a rant about how the casks should be used for firewood instead of whisky, so I’m going to keep trying them.

85/100


Laphroaig 7 2011 Handfilled answers the question “Well you had enough money to make it to Islay and have some more, is the gift shop worth it?”

Of course it is. Seriously it’s a whisky they’ll pour you, let you choose from, not twist your arm, and it was probably picked because the staff know it’s a honey barrel and they need it closer to have a nip every so often.

But you get to hand fill it yourself. That’s a twist, right? Whatever, I ended up with a sample, let’s see what I thought of it.

Price: £145 at Auction, otherwise 70 as part of the tour for a 250 ml

Region: Islay

Vintage: 2011

Bottled: 2019

Cask Type: Fino Sherry

Cask Number 5959

Abv: 60.8%

Colour: 10YR 6/10

Nose: Smoked butter, fennel, banana, strawberry, gingersnaps, herbal lamb

Good butter and spice runs through this. It really punches way above its age, with lots of fruit and well developed meatiness/mint with water. Actually this screams out for water, kinda like that time I met a man in the desert and… wait, my lawyer is saying I shouldn’t mention it given an upcoming lawsuit.

Taste: Smoked fennel sausage, honey butter, peat, lime, coffee, orange sherbet, cookie dough (chocolate chip)

Meaty, spicy, good floral note, tons of complexity with a roasted/citrus portion that grows and builds.

Finish: Almond, thyme, guajillo pepper, brown sugar, coffee, licorice, fried banana

Nutty, herbal, smokey with a vegetal note, more molasses and coffee… Damn, this just keep growing and showing new things. It’s complex, the flavours meld well, and it’s fun to really dive into this.

Conclusion: Sweet and savoury fun, young dram with tons of interesting and complex flavours. For people who read these reviews, you’ll know I have a soft spot for younger whiskies (please don’t misquote that) that are complex and fun and interesting in their own ways. These honey barrels really do shine and are basically the envy of any other young whiskies on the market that are just massive vattings and don’t really have character.

This on the other hand? Tons of developed smoke, meat, fennel, and coffee. So yeah, maybe do buy a hand fill, turns out it’s a good idea.

87/100


Thanks to /u/catharticintent for this dram.

Laphroaig 15 2002 Handfilled answers the question: Wait, was the last one actually good? Or just a fluke? Because everything could be good once, right. We’ve all had something good from a restaurant to find out everything else on the menu is literally on fire and toxic.

That said, this is Laphroaig and I’m a fan. I think this is the fourth time I’ve done a mega review of them? Geez, almost like I have a bias.

So this is a 15-year-old Laphroaig that was aged in an ex-Maker’s Mark Bourbon Barrel. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: £145 at Auction, otherwise £70 as part of the tour for a 250 ml

Region: Islay

Vintage: 2002

Bottled: 2017

Cask Type: Maker’s Mark Bourbon Barrel

Cask number: 3799

Abv: 56.9%

Colour: 2.5Y 8/10

Nose: Fried chicken, fresh pine, oatmeal cookie, peach turnover, custard, roast pineapple, goldenrod

Very strong notes of fry oil, strong pine, a good oatmeal cookie (screw you, you’re old, I’m not projecting), some custard… All of this is insanely complex. If the last whisky had simple flavours that were numerous, this is no simple notes that keep hitting you like my self-confidence after exams.

Taste: Porridge, peach turnover, tonic water, molasses cookie, roast fennel, candied yams

Butter spine, good molasses note, lovely earthy sweetness, and a mineral note to round it all out. Again, nothing is by itself, everything is complex, each sip is an adventure, you’ve heard this all before, let’s move on.

Finish: Peach pie, jerky, nori, mint jelly, grassy, fennel, Swedish berries, peanut butter, salted almonds, sea breeze

Jesus that’s a lot of whisky notes. I’m embarrassed. Just kept coming. I’ll leave it, but suffice to say it’s a lot.

Conclusion: So good. Amazing, strong, lovely flavours, exactly what I look for in a Laphroaig. Blew me away in a way that I didn’t think whiskies really did anymore. This would have been one where I’d be buying two bottles. Amazing stuff.

So yes, based on the two hand-fills as part of this multi-review, they have some great stuff at the end of the tour. Maybe it is worth the two plane tickets and going to an island filled with smokey, tasty Scotch. Who knew?

89/100


Thanks to /u/cartarticintent for this dram as well.

Laphroaig SMWS 29.198 “Seaside Surprises” asks the question: If you already named one Laphroaig “Seaside Surprise” is the other one any better? Has SMWS just stopped caring? Should we expect “Seaside’s Surprise” and “Seaside’s Surprises” next?

My many issues with SMWS aside, there was a time when Laphroaigs popping up from them was a regular occurrence, and they were affordable, and people were happy. Then they ran out (that’s not an issue I have with SMWS, it happens), and we have less.

So let’s jump back to the past and see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: € 134

Region: Islay

Vintage: 01.07.1999

Bottled: 19.08.2016

Stated Age: 16-years-old

Cask type: Refill Ex-bourbon Barrel

Number of bottles: 228

Abv: 59.3%

Colour: 5Y 9/6

Nose: Smoked butter, white grape concentrate, roast veggies, baked apple, caramel

Chardonnay-like nose, with lots of butter and acid. Or is that just the LSD orgy I had. Lots of rolls. Someone baked fresh ones. Also not the most svelte people. But hey, who am I to judge?

My horrible judgemental unprofessional and awkward joke aside (great performance review this year), it’s got that lovely butter, some sharp acidity, and some good earth/developed apple notes.

Taste: Oak, white grape, anise, butter, rice krispies, jujubes

Lots of oak, comes out as butter and then develops as time goes on. Good cereal note, sharp acidity, and some spice.

So basically I’m having a high proof Chardonnay at this point. Good times. Let’s get wine lady drunk and end up in the aforementioned orgy again.

Finish: Pear, dry, anise, oak, red licorice, grassy, salt

Gets less complex but keeps up with that oaky, grassy, salt note. It’s nice, but I kinda wish there was more to this finish.

Conclusion: Chardonnay-like whisky with heavy oak, white grape, butter, and acidic notes. Unique, though I’m glad I bought the other one. It’d different, so that’s cool, but I was looking for something else here. You know, like a Sangiovese.

Or you know, like a whisky. That’s peated and salty. Meh, I’m not too angry about it.

82/100


Laphroaig Bessie’s Dram Premium Quality Eiling Lim asks the question: How many times can I forget the name of a whisky and screw it up? Many times, in fact.

So I’m going to take some extra time. Bessie Williamson was a former Laphroaig distillery manager and owner. She’s the first woman in the 20th century to manage a Scotch distillery, was instrumental in promoting single malt whisky, and is the reason any of us lucky schlubs know of Islay at all.

So maybe, just maybe my brain can remember that so the next time it comes up in conversation with a whisky nerd I don’t bumble my words like a Sudafed clown ruining a country.

I tried this before buying and immediately bought it. Maybe I was high off the last real trip I took? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $230 CAD

Region: Islay

Abv: 51.3%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/8

Nose: Roast mango, funk, freshly cut grass, black licorice, cocoa

Tropical, a bit of funk, some grassiness and spice. Good cocoa earth going on from the peat. Initial dram was a bit tame, a bit youthful. That said, giving this time to air out I’m getting more spice and more interesting notes.

Taste: Lime sorbet, black licorice, cranberry sauce, jerky, mulch

Good acidity/sweet, lovely black licorice (I goddamn love anise you can’t take it away from me), and a tart, strong note. Just keeps building, with water bringing out a meaty/spicy/earthy element.

Finish: Cloves, brown butter, candied bacon, candied lemon peel, farmy, chocolate cake

Spice, butter, sweet lemon, farmy… even chocolate cake? Holy damn. I keep coming back to this and wanting more.

Conclusion: Cocoa, sweet spice mulch that somehow does the young side and older side of Laphroaig that I like.

That said, let the bottle breathe if you have this one. First time we had this, it was… an alright Laphroaig, a bit young. Time to breathe? At home, in the normal crypt like situation.

Ha, you know I’m a millennial, I’m in an apartment where I’m happy I have just enough room for a cat and another person who isn’t a roommate.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, this whisky: It needs to breathe and then it hits these lovely complex notes. It’s a must drink.

87/100


Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 asks the question: Did I forget to review a Cairdeas release? Because I completely forgot it. 2016, a simpler time when clowns were trying to kill us and we only assumed the horrible things to come and didn’t know they were going to come true and be bad.

But enough about the current year. Had a bottle of this, realized I hadn’t reviewed it yet, here we are. Not only were clowns trying to kill us, but Laphoaig decided it was time to show what Madeira does with their whisky.

Wait, didn’t we start with this? I guess…. But what happens when you release it on a larger level? Why was the first one left out? Could this be better? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $110 CAD

Region: Islay

Bottled: 2016

Cask Type: Ex-bourbon followed by a Madeira Hogshead Finish

Abv: 51.6%

Colour: 10YR 8/8

Nose: Brown sugar, roast beef, parsley, orange, hay

Alright, brown sugar is nice and… wait, is that beef? This meaty/umami note kinda takes over. There’s cereal/farmy note there, but not getting as much smoke.

Taste: Orange chocolate, brine, floral lime, honeyed chocolate, white raspberry

When I was a child I stole a cookie. I knew how to steal cookies quite well. You see, you kept walking while eating, so no one was the wiser. But this one time the cookies were orange.

Since then I’m not the biggest orange chocolate fan. But it’s here, and there’s a jump between fruit and chocolate. And if you too stole a cookie… then you know I’m not having fun. But wow that’s a developed note.

Finish: Creamsicle, herbal, brown sugar, hazelnut, anise, hay

More orange, but no chocolate so I’m not going to have a whiny time and be sad.

Frankly I liked the finish the best. Felt like a nice mixture of orange and spice, which I vastly prefer over any mix of chocolate and orange.

Conclusion: Unique dessert dram. There are aspects I’m not loving, let me be clear. But damned if I can’t think of another whisky, let alone Laphroaig that does this the same way. There was just so much fruit and floral and cereal.

So yeah, the clowns slowly skulking around wasn’t the only nice part of 2016. A simpler time, and a sweet dram to ignore the future with.

82/100


Thanks to /u/UncleBaldric for the sample.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2018 asks the question… Seriously, did you forget to do some Cairdeas? Like, seriously dude, you do enjoy Laphroaig, right? You should be catching up on these.

Now granted, this was done in Fino casks, and I don’t know my thoughts on them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some really, really good Fino cask whiskies. I just seriously blank out when discussing Fino scotch. Heck, this is the second Fino of this group, I liked the last one, I should just commit.

But… I mean, do I actually like Fino? I don’t know. Better have another one to be sure. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: $110 CAD

Region: Islay

Bottled: 2018

Cask Type: First Fill ex-Bourbon & Fino Sherry Casks

Abv: 51.8%

Colour: 2.5Y 7/8

Nose: Licorice, butter, brine, banana, gingerbread from the oven, roasted chestnuts

Spice, more spice, butter, and a bit of fruit. Really interesting notes all around. Think one of those happy-go-lucky Xmas times on those movies that are boring. That’s this, in a whisky, except without the privilege.

Well maybe a bit of it.

Taste: Banana, dry pear, anise, almond, oyster, brown sugar, mineral

Simpler, more brine forward. The brine is probably the most developed aspect, and I think if I was a sherry fiend I’d be a bit sad with this. No fruit, bit of funk… But again, maybe I should start expecting that from Fino? I don’t know. Still nice, salty and sweet, and it’s not even Tuesday on the side of the city with more Covid. FUN!

Finish: Ginger, black cherry, brine, smokey peanuts, Thai basil

Long finish. Again it focuses on a dry, spice-forward nutty like flavour. Certainly turns it around from the taste, showing off more complexity.

Conclusion: Well of course something with Fino sherry and first-fill ex-Bourbon casks has a dry, nutty, spicy, and smokey taste devoid of strong vanilla notes.

I have friends who love this whisky. I have read reviews of people who didn’t like it. I personally loved it, but I don’t know I’d serve it to everyone. And this is where my confusion on a Fino cask comes from.

Look, if you’re like me, and cinnamon buns are the equivalent of high end crack for you, then yes, it’s for you. If spice doesn’t make you stick your hand in the box and not flinch, then it’s not for you and you are in the salon of the mindkiller.

Try this to see where you lay.

86/100

Scotch review #1290-1302, Islay review #358-69, Whisky Network review #1944-55

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