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Friday, June 24, 2016

Single Malt Report: Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength, batch 007

'Twas requested, now here it is: a review of Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength, batch 007.  My bottle of batch 005 was such a disappointment that I now refuse to buy any batch of the Laphroaig CS blind again.  Batch 006 was a definite improvement, but still had a noticeable amount of the unfortunate sugar+oak that plagued 005.  While I still refuse to lose hope that Laphroaig will right their ship and get their classic 10yo expressions right, I was skeptical about batch 007, even though it received a great review from sausagemeister.com.  Luckily my friend, Brett With The Labelmaker, immediately offered up a sample of the 007 after the 005 & 006 review.  Thanks, Brett!

On a related note, most local whisky stores here are still selling batch 006 and haven't even gotten to 007 yet.  Is this due to overproduction of recent batches or did 005 put a real dent in Laphroaig CS enthusiasm out here?  Meanwhile, batch 008 has already been released in Europe.  But back to batch 007...

Distillery: Laphroaig
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Maturation: ex-bourbon barrels
Age: minimum 10 years
Batch: 007, Feb 2015
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? Probably
Alcohol by Volume: 56.3%

A further reduction of the sugar and vanilla and butter on the nose.  Yay!  But it's also not a peat monster.  Lots of limes, hints of mango.  Dried basil, smoky chocolate, new carpet.  Mossy and salty peat, but no medicinal notes to speak of.  The palate is pretty sharp and edgy, really peppery (green and pink peppercorns).  Herbal, salty, not sweet.  An enormous herbal bitterness starts to take over at the 10 minute mark.  Big spirit and little oak in the finish.  Cigarettes, soil, roots, and bitter smoke.

WITH WATER (~48%abv)
More anise in the nose.  Fresher herbs (oregano?), one flower blossom, and a much woodier smoke.  Whew, if there was any sweetness when it was neat, water washes it right out of the palate.  No soft notes, all aggression.  Bitter greens, earth, peppery mint leaves, and peppercorns.  Bitter smoke in the finish, with those bitter greens too.  Seaweed, tart blackberries, and dark chocolate.

This is a definite change of pace from the previous two batches.  Though the nose has its pretty sides, its palate is a real smack in the mouth.  I dig the herbal bitterness and huge pepper notes, and the neatly served finish actually feels like Laphroaig.  So, to me, this is another step up for the CS.  But it kinda has to be your sort of thing, with the bitterness and pepper.  It's missing the iodine, medicinal stuff, and more of the unique Laphroaig style, plus I wouldn't mind some sort of added dimension to the palate.  But, thankfully, they're approaching their old form.

Availability - Many specialty retailers
Pricing - It's still $55-$85 depending on where you live.  Winesearcher's charts show that its average US price has gone up only 10% over the past 5 years. Remarkable.
Rating - 88