...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