Laphroaig Brodir

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 20.37.09Distillery: Laphroaig
Age:
NAS
Bottled: 2015
Cask: Bourbon barrels, finished in Ruby port
ABV: 
48%
More Info:
WhiskyBase

Peaty Islay whisky, finished in port casks?? Yeah, go on, why not.

Another travel retail release from Laphroaig, Brodir’s been around a couple of years as you may have noticed if you’ve been through duty free lately. Bottled at 48%, without chill filtering – let’s see how it fares in the glass.

Nose: Coal dust, charred sausages, salty pretzels, wet oil paints. With time, dark cherries and plums emerge through the thick, salty aroma of wood smoke.

Palate: Coal tar soap, orange marmalade, with a kick of chilli calming to reveal chamomile flowers, loose leaf tea, liquorice all-sorts, bitter grapefruit, vanilla pods, and a twist of blackcurrant.

Finish: Soap and smoke, black pepper, liquorice and lingering dry ashes.

Not a bad dram at all, this.

Reminds me very much of the Amontillado-finished Cairdeas from 2014. All the coal-tar and acrid peat you expect from Laphroaig but with an interesting dark fruit influence from the port casks.

Available at Master of Malt for £89.95.

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Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 16.23.55Distillery: Laphroaig
Age:
~9 Years Old
Cask: 1st-fill Bourbon, finished in Amontillado Hogsheads 
ABV: 
51.4%
More Info:
WhiskyBase

You’ve probably seen this one around – that bright yellow tin is hard not to notice!

Released for Feis Ile 2014, this bottling is released with no age statement but widely believed to have spent eight years in first fill Bourbon and a further one year in Amontillado sherry casks.

Nose: Wood-smoked cashew nuts, grapefruit juice, roast chicken crisps, marker pens, flint and coal dust.

Palate: Sweet and mouthcoating, then a whoosh of astringent coal tar soap leaving tangy sweet oranges, lemon throat sweets, warm honey and lingering peat.

Finish: Warm and comforting with a creamy, smoky ash.

This is a cracking dram, hands down. All that midwinter fireplace character you expect, but the Amontillado brings some interesting sweet notes instead of the usual vanilla flavour you get with the ten year old. No water needed either – it’s perfect as it is.

You can still get this for reasonable prices, and with an out-turn of 28,000 bottles it’s not too hard to find. Some online stores are charging over £100, but I picked up a bottle at auction for about £60 so it’s worth shopping around.

Laphroaig 25 Cask Strength

Distillery: Laphroaig
Bottled: 2014
Age: 25 years old
ABV: 45.1%
Cask: Bourbon and Oloroso Barrels
More Info: WhiskyBase

Always fun tasting an older Laphroaig! That peat smoke tends to calm down and let those fruit notes come through…

Nose: Candy floss, minty mouthwash, coal tar soap, bandages, peaches and candied orange peels, all against a faint and far-away wood smoke. Antique wooden furniture, dust and polish.

Palate: Creamy, tangy peat smoke wraps more citrus notes – lime and mandarin, developing a bitter grapefruit quality. Quite chalky and mineral-rich.

Finish: Drying with ashy smoke and burnt coffee beans.

Nowhere near as fruity and summery as the 18. The sherry cask influence gives this a much more savoury edge with heavier fruit and wood notes.

All in all, it’s very elegant. The palate’s quite straightforward, but the nose is very complex with a well-aged Islay feel that conjures up images of refined living in dusty antique studies by open fireplaces.

It reminds me of Port Ellens and Caol Ilas of similar age, which I didn’t expect as they’re both light and delicate distillates compared with the darker, dirtier, punchier peaty power associated with Laphroaig.

Be tempted to get a bottle, if I could afford it!

You can buy the Laphroaig 25 Cask Strength online from a variety of UK-based retailers. I ordered my sample from WhiskySite.nl for €17.99.

Laphroaig 15 (200th Anniversary)

Distillery: Laphroaig
Bottled: 2015
Age: 15 years old
ABV: 43%
More Info: WhiskyBase

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.

Laphroaig 18

Distillery: Laphroaig
Age:
18 years old
ABV: 
48%
More Info:
WhiskyBase

By far the most widespread Islay malt. You’re hard-pressed these days to go into a supermarket in the UK that doesn’t have the Laphroaig 10 in the Single Malt section of the spirits aisle.

This tends to be the Marmite of whiskies as well – known for its strong smoke and medicinal iodine flavour. When people think of peated whisky, I’d say Laphroaig is the one the majority of the general public would point to.

Laphroaig’s marketing department are well aware of this, hence their popular “Opinions Welcome” marketing campaign on YouTube.

So with all that to consider, what will an additional eight years in the cask do to the overall character of the whisky?

Nose: Very fruity and floral! Starts with ripe pear, cherry blossom, fruit pastilles, and beeswax. Beneath the bright fruity notes, I get a whiff of a fragrant peat bog, cedar wood and a soft, maritime breeze.

Palate: Cherry jam, barley fields, plums, dates, honeydew melon with a rising waft of peat smoke at the end.

Finish: Warm peat, black pepper, and a little bit of Earl Grey.

This is intensely fragrant and fruity. If Laphroaig usually conjures up images of fireplaces in Winter storms, this dram is one of those fleeting Summer days on Islay where the flowers are out and the breeze is warm and sweet.

That extra time in cask has let the phenols of the peated barley calm down and the oak has imparted a lot more sweet, fruity influence. The result is a lighter, sweeter whisky with a lot more going on than peat.

Available in limited quantities each year, you can find this online at all good whisky retailers. Master of Malt have samples at £6.21 and bottles at £73.96.