It’s a big year for Laphroaig this year as the distillery celebrates its 200th anniversary. To commemorate this, one of the limited bottlings they’re releasing is a revival of their much-loved (but discontinued) 15 year old expression.
Being the only distillery on Islay with the royal warrant, I’m sure Prince Charles was miffed at the decision to discontinue the fifteen as he made it well known this was his favourite. I wonder if he was one of the several thousand fans madly hitting refresh in his browser when the bottling was released a few weeks back…
Nose: Coastal notes of seaweed and salt-crusted rocks. There’s a herbal note of sage in there, alongside a bit of fried cabbage. Dry leaves and old tobacco. Some softer, fruitier notes of banana, becoming more pronounced after the whisky’s had time to breathe.
Palate: A gentle earthy peppery peat wrapped up in an oily, creamy mouthfeel – much thicker than the 10 year old, and very smooth. Fresh mint leaves. Lemon and lime cordial. Some soft poached pear and tart red fruit – cranberries and redcurrants.
Finish: Drying with salted nuts and a little more of that peppery peat. No need for water with this one.
This is much cleaner than I expect from Laphroaig. The 10 is a classic sooty, salty, muddy peat fest but this is much more restrained allowing soft fruit flavours through.
It’s nice, and very drinkable, a fruitier and gentler take on the Laphroaig signature style. But at £75 for a 15 year old whisky released at 43%, I’m not exactly wowed. The distillery already produces the stunningly delicious 18 year old around a similar price so why anyone would choose this instead beyond the illusion of exclusivity I’m really not sure.
If it were a limited release of 8,000 bottles then it might have some collectible value as a memorial of the distillery’s 200th birthday. However, I hear there are 72,000 bottles of it globally so it’ll never exactly be hard to find one.
Puzzling. Hopefully retailers will bring the price down over the coming months in the wake of inevitable further releases from the distillery during the Islay Festival later this month. I’m looking forward to a dram that meets the standards of 2014’s excellent (and very yellow) Amontillado Cairdeas release.
You can buy the Laphroaig 15 in a variety of places online. I ordered my sample from WhiskySite.nl for €11.69.