...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Laphroaig PX Cask

During that fateful second evening at Malt Bar South Park three years ago, Odin and I discussed the progression of Ardbeg's and Laphroaig's whisky over the past four decades. In fact, we may have segued from laughing about those two Islays' recent wacky casketry and spirit shifts to talking about Kavalan, then progressing to Omar. Thus when I finally got around to scheduling my tasting of two Omars, I elected to partner them with a current Laphroaig.

Laphroaig PX Cask is sold in big ol' litre bottles at many travel retail stores. Is it aged entirely in Pedro Ximémez casks? Of course not, that's not Modern Laphroaig. It's basically Triple Wood, but ending up in PX casks, rather than Oloroso, after it passes through "American oak" casks and Beam's beloved quarter casks.

I tried this Laphroaig once before at a whisky event seven years ago. My old notes list anise, tar, salt, sugar and sherry. May I find more of the earlier notes and fewer of the latter...

Distillery: Laphroaig
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Age: NAS
Maturation: "American oak" casks, then quarter casks, then Pedro Ximémez casks
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
Chill-filtration? ???
Caramel colored? Probably
(from a sample pilfered at a recent event, thank you Curtis!)

There's lots of rubber in the nose, then tar. Then more rubber. Mixed berry jam and burning tires. A hint of smoked salmon. More rubber. It's as if someone made brandied cherries with the lighter version of Hampden rum and went overboard with the sugar. A lot of the same in the palate: ash, rubber, sugar, burnt grape jam, some sugar-doped rum. Imitation vanilla extract. A sickly sweet edge builds with time. The finish is very peppery, very ashy and very sweet. A big dose of cheap cream sherry.

DILUTED TO ~43%abv, or ⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose... Oh god, that was a bad idea. Buttery baby poop and eggy sulfur. Mint candy, simple syrup and brine. The palate is tannic as hell and brutally sugary. There's some ash and bitterness too. The finish matches the palate, regrettably.

This is the worst Laphroaig I've ever had the displeasure of trying. At least the Select is just a *shrug*, only offensive on principle. With a nose more rubbery than a clown's and a finish sweeter than a bottom shelf liqueur, the PX Cask is drinkable when neat, if you've previously burnt your tastebuds off your face. Once diluted, it's gross. It's unfortunate. It's punishment. It made me nauseous. Omar wins the week.

Availability - Travel retail
Pricing - why
Rating - 65 (neat only; it swims in the 30s)