Time for some more Islay goodness, from probably my fave distillery. I’ve had a number of Laphroaigs over the years, so will probably go hard on this dram. It has a lot to live up to.
Nose: All the Laphroaig classics: peat, smoke, iodine, dark sugar, with maybe a hint of dried fruit. All the classics, but possibly dialed down a little.
Taste: Dark chocolate, smoked malt, treacle, pepper (though this may be a remnant from dinner), maybe some dried orange or orange peel too.
Finish: medicinal, with bitter dark chocolate and smoke.
It’s been a little while since I’ve had a standard Laphroaig bottling, so I may have to recalibrate my tastebuds, but overall this was fine but subdued. It’s nice, but not really pushing the barrow of “The most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies”, not in the same way the Quarter Cask and 10yo Cask Strength do.
and with a single drop of water…
Nose: a little more fruit, a little less peat.
Taste: the smoke comes through stronger, everything else is there but dialed down a little.
Finish: sharper, slightly more bitter chocolate.
And the official tasting notes: http://www.laphroaig.com/whiskies/triple-wood.aspx
NOSE: At 48%, straight from the bottle, the initial flavour is quite sweet with a gentle mixture of sweet raisins and creamy apricots with just a trace of the dry peat smoke at the back, the smoother nutty flavours combine all these flavours into one smooth, syrupy whole. With a touch of water the peat smoke comes to the fore and masks the gentler fruitier notes. Even with the maturation being carried out in 1st fill bourbons, quarter casks and sherry butts, the intense bonfire ash smell of the earthy peat cannot be masked
BODY: Powerful yet with a creamy consistency
PALATE: With no water, a large initial burst of peat belies the slight lack on the nose but is gentled on the tongue by the creamier flavours of vanilla and fruit with just a suggestion of sherry sweetness. With a trace of water the peat reek is gentled, allowing the more complex flavours of citrus fruits and spices to come through. A slight tang comes from the European Oak balancing the creamier American White Oak.
FINISH: Mouth filling and extremely long but balanced by the sweet smooth caramel taste
So I’m getting dark chocolate where they get caramel, but otherwise I seem to be backward (my impressions without water are closer to theirs with).
It’s a tough call, were it not Laphroaig I’d be singing the praises of this dram highly. There’s certainly a bunch to like about the triple wood, wonderful flavours, a long finish that just gets sweeter, and a price point just over $100 that’s just about right. I just feel that it sits a little safe: the peat freaks won’t be challenged, and yet there’s still more peat than a typical peat-avoider would like.
This brings up something else, in that Laphroiag have also done the right thing by the NCF (non-chill filtering) evangelists on this dram, but it in spite of this it seems to bring less to the party than the supposedly chill filtered 10yo. It’s pushing me more to think that it doesn’t really matter, as long as the final dram is good. But then a bunch of what I say above also reads like someone looking for a taste or experience that the dram isn’t, too.
So I guess if you’re looking for something peaty, and with hints of fruit, it’s not a bad drop. It’s no xmas cake, not a hospital ward, nor the aftermath of a bonfire, but brings a hint of each.