...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Single Malt Report: Laphroaig 25 year old Cask Strength (2011)

Okay, so you weren't too impressed with yesterday's leadoff 2014 report?
Then it's time to bring in one of the big guns.

See, I have some goodies in the stash.
This sample, about 35+ mL, was gleaned from the groovy Laphroaig Vertical back in December 2012.  Remember, this one?

Photo courtesy of the great Bino Gopal
I escaped the event with a few samples, such as the 2012 Cairdeas Origin, and will review the remaining ones before 2014 is done.

Today, it's the 25 year old Cask Strength, 2011 version.  I wasn't sure what to expect of it, since my notes from the December 2012 tasting were a little on the esoteric side.  Jim Murray said this particular 25yo CS was "quite possibly the finest bottling of Laphroaig" he's yet had.  That actually doesn't mean much in reality since we each have our own palates; and his prefers LVMH products.  But I digress.  The regular Laphroaig 18 year old, which weighs in at a similar ABV (48%) is a little on the soft side in my opinion.  Meanwhile the 21 year old CS in the group photo above, the "Heathrow" bottling, is damn near erotic.

So I wasn't sure how this one would play, though I hoped it would taste like Laphroaig.

Filled past the brim, my sample bottle runneth over.
Distillery: Laphroaig
Age: minimum 25 years
Release Year: 2011
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? Probably not
Alcohol by Volume: 48.6%

Firstly, the nose is a novel.  It starts with chalk, cocoa, and Armagnac.  Some sweat, then a very fruity peat.  Mentholated Calvados, papaya, muddled ripe peaches, and sticky confections.  Then at the 30 minute mark, there's this burst of Southern peaches in the summer; that ripe scent you can smell right through the stem.  Then caramel sauce and peach creamsicles.  At 50 minutes, there's some sugary citrus, toffee, cherry liqueur, grapefruit juice, and a hint of iodine.  So, yeah, the nose is alright.

The palate is leaner, but more focused.  There's so much peat moss it's ridiculous.  Somehow it withstood all that maturation time.  Then very rich cigar tobacco, dog fur, a hint of orange peel, baby powder, and jasmine flowers.  (Some of those descriptors I haven't actually tasted, but the flavor reads identical to the scent.  Though, dog fur?  Yum.)  After 40 minutes, here's comes the vanilla beans, orange candies, and peach crumble.  Fruity but not super sweet.

The finish is peat peat peat.  Some of the nose's tropical fruits show up, as do the dogs.  Caramel, a little bit of peach, charred pork, and camphor.  It's immense, tangy, and fragrant.

That fresh peach note in the nose is a stunner.  It teleported me back to July 2004 in DC, as I tore through peaches by the pound.  In the mouth, the peat radiates so much more than it does in the 18yo.  The cask combination in here is seamless; I can't tell where the oaks start and stop.

Now don't......don't look at the price for sec.  I know you just did.  Crap.  Now you see that Macallan isn't the only one charging a fortune for 25 year old non-limited official bottlings.  In Laphroaig's defense, at least they're bottling at a higher strength and it's a little cheaper.  And that's about it for any defending I'll do about the price.  Money aside, this is great whisky.  It's my favorite Laphroaig that I've reviewed here, so far.

(Please note: Laphroaig has released at least six batches of the 25yo.  This review only covers the 2011 edition.)

Availability - Specialty retailers on both sides of the Atlantic
Pricing - $450-$500 (US), $350-$450 (Europe, shipping not included)
Rating - 92


  1. Based on today's news, pouring a Laphroaig will now be known as Suntory Time.

    1. While some may not like this sort of consolidation, I must say it could have been much worse.

    2. Japanese ownership certainly did wonders for Four Roses. It will be interesting to see what Rachel Barrie will do with Laphroaig and Ardmore since it's likely both distilleries will fall under the Morrison Bowmore banner.

    3. Frankly they couldn't hide Ardmore anymore than Beam has. Another potential thought is that Laphroaig has no Master Blender since their stuff is all bourbon barrels at first. Though someone is choosing what goes into the quarter casks and sherry finishes.

      Suntory also oversaw Bowmore arising out of the FWP-era.

  2. Congrats Sir, this definately IS a nice malt :)
    Tho i don't like Laphroaig that much in general i really apprechiate the 25yo version for it's balance without being a peat bomb. The price tag for sure adds some respect and maybe some extra impressions on your tongue (feeling those 20 bucks running down your throat?) but on the other hand some malts are just worth the money when it comes to quality and complexity. I also just spent too much money for this little baby -> http://www.flickr.com/photos/soulplasma/11933545874

    So... yeah... close your eyes... forget about that money which is already gone... and ENJOY :)

    1. Yeah... received it today. It was on my list for quite some time and when it came up at whiskyauction i was ready. i sold one of my 25yo 1975 Taliskers to afford this gem and i hopefully wont regret it... i had a sample of the Cadenhead Tali but that was a couple of years ago,

    2. That is a monster ABV for a 17 year old.

    3. It is... and the sherry cask makes it even more yummy. I need to check my sample archive if i still have some of that famous 20yo from 1981 to compare it with the Cadeanheads one...

      btw... my colleague will be in LA in February and could smuggle some samples for you ;) I will send you an email as soon as i have an exact date.

    4. Talisker bartering! I hope your new big Cadenhead prize is awesome. I'm not sure if I've even seen an old green Cadenhead matured in ex-sherry available in the States.

      Thanks for the good news about the samples! Not sure what the restrictions are in Europe, but in the US it's difficult to sneak samples in carry-on luggage. Some folks say they've gotten away with it, others not. I've stashed them into checked luggage to be safe.

    5. Is that 20 year old Talisker the one Jim Murray said my life will be complete once I try it?

    6. I was THIS close to getting my hands on that very bottling last year. Though I was more inspired by the LAWS raves about it.

      UK edition - http://www.lawhiskeysociety.com/whiskey/301/Talisker-20-1981-(UK)
      US edition - http://www.lawhiskeysociety.com/whiskey/1101/Talisker-20-1981-(USA)

    7. yes... thats the one we're talking bout. I should have bought a bottle last year for 550$ but didn't take the step... now they're up to 900-1200$... what a shame :(

    8. Geeeeeez. The one I almost had was in the $200-$250 range. Boo.