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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Single Malt Report: Laphroaig Lore

Don't worry this isn't another TL;DR post full of declarations about the consumer's soul.  It's just a review about a whisky, a relevant whisky too!

Though the word "lore" usually refers to the past, Laphroaig Lore is yet another NAS release chock full of blending and various casks, clearly following the path of The New Laphroaig.  Because it was NAS, some of us cynics wondered why it was going for 3x-4x the price of Laphroaig Select.  In March, @RecursieWhisky planted a nice jab on Twitter about this issue, which was enough to get a response from Laphroaig's distillery manager, John Campbell.
The full conversation is worth browsing if you get a chance, especially when Recursie asks why they then don't proudly list the 7yo age statement on the bottle.  Campbell responds, "because it's not a 7 year old liquid".  Well, it is 7 year old liquid according to the Scotch Whisky Association.  Perhaps Laphroaig may want to join Compass Box's campaign to allow for more disclosure of whiskies' contents.  Or perhaps they don't.  As long as customers continue to pay three figures for mystery meat, why would they want more transparency?

Ruben of Whiskynotes mentions in his review of Lore, that this is the unofficial replacement for the 15yo and 18yo.  If Laphroaig disclosed the contents of every Lore batch, then this wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.  Otherwise: mystery meat.

Distillery: Laphroaig
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Age: 7 years and older
Maturation: Quarter casks, virgin European oak casks, refill casks, first fill ex-bourbon casks, first fill ex-oloroso casks, and possibly more.
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? ???
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
(Many thanks to Josh of The Whiskey Jug for this sample! The man loves this whisky.)

Its color is a light gold.  There's plenty of the New Laphroaig sugary and oaky style in the nose, but there's also quite a bit of dank dingy peat beneath it.  Both the dark and the light existing simultaneously but separately.  Then there's vanilla smoke, wet sand, salt, tar, and sugar cookies. Some peaches in the far back.  The palate is very toasty.  There's a nice graceful peating up front, met by a good brisk bitterness.  More herbal (oregano?) than sugary.  Some floral peat that's reminiscent of older Longrow.  With lots of air, some gnarly rough peat rises up, met by cinnamon bread, and salt.  The bitterness expands in the finish.  Sharp peat smoke, seaweed, and miso.  An angrier Laphroaig than in the nose.

This is an odd cat and a rare instance (for me) of the palate being more impressive than the nose.  The old and new malt, along with the assortment of casks, never merge in the nose which gave me reason for concern.  But the palate salvages it.  It's a tasty one, developing gradually from grace to power.  Since it's whisky, thus it's intended to be tasted, I'll weight the palate heavier than the nose.

I wouldn't doubt if Lore does indeed replace the 18 and 15, being that it exists in the late 18's price point.  I think the 18 was a better all around whisky (especially for its last two years), and I found the recent limited edition 15 year old to be more consistent in the nose than this.  But Lore tastes great and delivers a quality Laphroaig wallop at the end.

Availability - most specialty retailers, except it's slow to get to California as usual
Pricing - $110-$145
Rating - 86