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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Laphroaig 18 year old (bottled 2014)

Yesterday I reviewed 2019's 16 year old, today I'm reporting on the last version of Laphroaig 18 year old. Like the 16 it's all bourbon casks and bottled at 48%abv. Many of my LA whisky friends loved this edition of the 18, and when they force fed it to me I was immediately taken in by its fruitiness. It was discontinued in 2014, but I found a bottle at its original price in 2015. Yes, I should have bought more than one bottle, but we all know that song too well. I saved two ounces for an occasion, and now's the time. Also I have no bottle shots of the thing, so here's a pic of the half-finished sample bottle.

Distillery: Laphroaig
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Maturation: bourbon casks
Age: minimum 18 years
Bottled: 2014
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? Yes
(from the bottom third of my bottle)

I notice immediately that the nose has half the peat and half the oak of the 16yo. Those notes are replaced by melons, lemons, pecans, new blossoms and a hint of peach candy. Smaller notes of plastic toys, cocoa powder and manure linger in the background. The palate confirms this is a delicate Laphroaig. It has a gentle minty sweetness, mild herbal bitterness and peat level close to that of Ardmore's teenage single malt. Tart apples and dark chocolate follow. It's really easy drinkin'. Ah, the fruits appear again in the finish. Cantaloupe, apricots and apple skins. Then coffee and bitter chocolate.

I found the previous version of the 18 too light, but my palate has changed in the eight(!) years since that review. This version of the 18 isn't "light", rather it's a subtler, brighter take on Laphroaig than the younger official versions. In fact it may hew closer to some teenage Yoichis, than what we're used to coming from Laphroaig. I'll also note, though this whisky comes from only bourbon casks, I don't think the distillery has ever specifically said those were first fills. Something much different was at play between the maturations of this 18 and the limited edition 16, and I prefer the 18.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87