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Monday, June 1, 2020

Laphroaig 16 year old (2019)

Since I've devoted a week to each of its South Islay brethren/sisters/cousins/factory-in-laws, Laphroaig now gets its due. This site does have some review gaps, so I'm going to fill my Laphroaig......holes.

The first two reviews this week will (hopefully) make good sparring partners. Today, it's the 16 year old, bottled in 2019. A 11,500-bottle release, it spent its time in only first-fill bourbon casks, burning in at 48%abv. Sounds promising!

Distillery: Laphroaig
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Maturation: first-fill bourbon casks
Age: minimum 16 years
Bottled: 2019
Outturn: 11,500 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? Probably
(from a bottle split)

Reading exactly as advertised, the nose arrives with burnt plasticky and ocean-y peat along with a heap of bright honey butter oak notes. It's briny and ashy, with smaller notes of anise, charred pepper skin, brown sugar and new carpet. The palate is charred, ashy, salty and herbal. Then the honey butter. Bits of apples and cinnamon. It gets bitterer with time, but also very sweet. It finishes with Thai chile heat, sweet apples, salt, honey, anise and vanilla.

Aggressive and modern, this Laphroaig registers both youthful and oaky like most of the world's "craft" whiskies, though this one pulls it off better than most because the underlying spirit is so good. I'm thankful Beam Suntory gave it an age statement and didn't bury their product in alternative casks, but I'm not really sure where this fits in with the rest of their range. The annual CS brings bigger and better power, the Quarter Cask offers plenty of oak and the 43%abv version of the 10 year old more ably balances those two aspects than does the 16. It's possible that second- or third-fill casks, or at least a mix of fills, would have served the whisky better, but that's a guess and preference on my part. Let's see how this whisky matches up with a similar out of production Laphroaig tomorrow...

Availability - mostly sold out, but some US retailers may still have some
Pricing - anywhere from $90-$190
Rating - 83