...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Laphroaig 18 year old 1995 SMWS 29.148

Happy Thanksgiving Plus One Day. I feel like I ate all the things. To commemorate the goofiest shopping day of the year, I've decided to review an SMWS whisky. I've already submitted a rant about the silliness of SMWS, so I will avoid repeating content. For a change.

My friend Matt, always very generous with his whisky/whiskey/rum/brandy, gave me a sizable sample of today's single cask. The last refill cask of SMWS I tried was fabulous. That was a Highland Park. This is not a Highland Park.

Distillery: Laphroaig (SMWS 29)
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay (Southern Coast)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
"Funny" name: A fantastic fusion of flavours
Age: 18 years
Distilled: April 1995
Maturation: refill ex-bourbon barrel
Cask#: 29.148
Bottles: 206
Alcohol by Volume: 60.7%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

The nose is very herbal, think dried sage and oregano. The Wuyi Whiskey Tea I've been drinking this year. Anise, lemons and spearmint gum. Vanilla and caramel. The very hot palate is full of bitter smoke, and is as intensely herbal as the nose. Green peppercorns, vanilla, sweet peat and a bitter absinthe. The simple finish has bitter smoke, horseradish, sugar and ocean water.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv
The nose becomes much quieter. Mint, vanilla, anise and dried sage. Not much change in the palate. It's bitterer, with more mint and salty ash. It's still too hot. Plenty of heat in the finish too. Bitter, salty and drying. Less sweetness.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv
A little more expressive and modern-Laphroaig-ish on the nose. Chlorine, mild smoke and lemon. Mint and vanilla. More smoke in the palate, lots of sweet mint. Salty and bitter, though milder. The finish is all vanilla, sugar and salt. And oddly milky.

I think Matt said this wasn't his preferred form of Laphroaig. And I'm inclined to agree. The refill barrel did curious work over the 18 years. The spirit is still plenty raw, yet there are heaps of generic American oak notes on top. It takes a lot of water to iron out its kinks, but the weird milky finish keeps it from really working. There are plenty of "flavours" as per the name, but the "fantastic fusion" never happens.

To drink a "fantastic fusion of flavors" whisky,
Then enjoy instead the last Laphroaig 18 OB.

Availability - Sold out, may be available in the secondary market
Pricing - was $150
Rating - 79 (with water)


  1. Great news! I have a full bottle of this one!

    On the other hand, I *think* I might have purchased it after tasting it so maybe there's hope.

    1. I sincerely hope your bottle is 90-points awesome. So far, I think, my review is the only one for this whisky.

  2. So, I opened my bottle tonight and took a few sips (after pouring some into a glass--I'm not an animal) and came here to tell you you were crazy. But then I read your review closely and realized that I mostly agree* with your notes; it's just that I really like the combo of dried herbs, citrus and ashy smoke.

    *Disagreements: I don't find it particularly bitter or hot at full strength.

    1. Crazy like a fox!

      I usually like citrus and ash too, but I went through four ounces of this and never found those things working together in the palate. The nose played out much better though.

      I look forward to getting my arse kicked in your future review.