It’s been over four years since we did our last young Laphroaig tasting. The last one was fun, a lot of fun, and so we decided it was time to revisit an Islay favorite.
The rules for this tasting were pretty straightforward: Laphroaig aged 10 years or under and something we haven’t already tried in a previous tasting. Armed with this info we submitted our bottles, or bought into the event, and then gathered on a Los Angeles winter evening to taste them all blind. As usual. Here’s how all shook out.
Malt Nuts: Young Laphroaig Tasting 2 – Round 1
1A: Scarabus (Laphroaig): 46% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Vanilla, malty, smoky, minerally, honeycomb, spice.
Palate: Vanilla marshmallows, smoke, minerally, spirity, malty, HNC, spice.
Finish: Long -> Smoky, spice and marshmallow.
Overall: (2 / 5) Young and spirity with a light sweet touch.
1B: James McCarthur’s Islay (Laphroaig) 6 years: 45% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Vanilla, smoke, spice, caramel, malt, butterscotch and spice.
Palate: Vanilla, spice, smoke, butterscotch, caramel and herbal notes.
Finish: Long -> Smoked caramel.
Overall: (3 / 5) Nice, I like what’s happening here. It’s an easy sipper.
1C: Exclusive Regions Islay KO (Laphroaig): 50% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Vanilla cake, malt, copper, smoke, butterscotch, herbal, roasty.
Palate: Iodine, metallic, spice, smoke, vanilla cake, herbal.
Finish: Long -> Sweet, smoky, spiced fade.
Overall: (3 / 5) Is this Laphroaig? It has a sharpness to it and a roasty note I’m not used to, but it’s not bad.
1D: Laphroaig 10 years: 43% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Apple juice, spice, smoke, green mango, orange peel and wax.
Palate: Plasticy phenolic smoke, metallic, roasted malt and spice.
Finish: Long -> Sweet and ashy metallic fade.
Overall: (3 / 5) It’s a bit more ashy than smoky, but it’s nice and easy to drink.
Post-Reveal Commentary: Everything in this round was decent except that Scarabus. It was so light and spirity it was almost like new make.
Malt Nuts: Young Laphroaig Tasting 2 – Round 2
2A: Laphroaig 10 years Sherry Oak Finish: 48% – ex-Bourbon, ex-Oloroso
Nose: Ashy, sweetly malty, iodine, copper and raspberries.
Palate: Leathery dark fruit, copper, ash, iodine, rasperries and tin.
Finish: Long -> Leather, ash, metal and sweetness.
Overall: (4 / 5) Wild, this one is just wild… but good. I definitely want more of this one. Gets a slight soy sauce, umami note as it opens.
2B: Carn Mor Laphroaig 10 years (10-20): 47.5% – ex-Oloroso Hogshead
Nose: Apples, caramel, spice, iodine, smoke and malty sweetness.
Palate: Buttered biscuits, smoke, spice and slight herbal notes.
Finish: Long -> “Laphroaig” and buttery toffee.
Overall: (3.5 / 5) Soft and sweet with a lingering richness. I’d be happy with more of this as well. It’s tasty.
2C: Claxton’s Islay Blended Malt (teaspooned Laphroaig) 8 years: 50% – Refill Sherry Butt
Nose: Spirity, minerally. plastic, banana chips, smoke, malt and vanilla taffy.
Palate: Vanilla taffy, heavy minerality, smoke and saline.
Finish: Medium -> Vanilla, smoke and minerality.
Overall: (2 / 5) Sharp yet watery… not loving this one.
Post-Reveal Commentary: Dang, that sherry oak Laphroaig is good. It’s a bit inky and has this underlying earthiness that’s just awesome. The Claxton is pretty much the exact opposite of that and is much more like 1A.
Malt Nuts: Young Laphroaig Tasting 2 – Round 3
3A: Laphroaig 10 years Cask Strength Batch 010: 58% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Floral, spice, smoke, Spree, cereal sweetness, iodine and dried fruit.
Palate: Dried dark fruit, smoke, leather, spice, cereal sweetness, and coastal notes.
Finish: Long -> Smoked dark fruit and toffee fade out with an earthiness.
Overall: (3.5 / 5) Sherried and fruity with a smoked earthiness… yum.
3B: Laphroaig 10 years Cask Strength Batch 012: 60.1% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Earthy, coastal, smoky, malt and copper.
Palate: Earthy, coastal, smoky, malty and metallic with some caramel and dried fruit.
Finish: Long -> Sweet and smoky coastal.
Overall: (3.5 / 5) This is another tasty Laphroaig, this round is killing it.
3C: Alexander Murray Laphroaig 12 years (05-18): 54% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Candy sweetness, creamy vanilla, malt and dried fruit and smoke.
Palate: Candy sweet and a touch spirity and earthy with some dark sweets and smoke.
Finish: Long -> Smoky and malty fade, touch lemony and metallic.
Overall: (3 / 5) Huh… interesting…
3D: Duncan Taylor Laphroaig 12 years (05-18): 53.9% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Dried fruit, smoke, malt, caramel, copper and saline.
Palate: Dried fruit, ashy char, darkly sweet, copper, herbal and saline.
Finish: Long -> Smoked fruit.
Overall: (4 / 5)There is a metallic note that gets stronger as it opens and some Honey Nut Cheerios come out with water.
3E: Laphroaig 10 years Cask Strength Batch 013: 57.9% – ex-Bourbon
Nose: Minerality, herbal, fruit cake, smoke and copper.
Palate: Fruit cake, herbal, nutty, smoky and coppery.
Finish: Long -> Fruity candy smoke.
Overall: (3.5 / 5) I like the way the fruit and the smoke sit balanced and give this whisky a great round character.
Post-Reveal Commentary: Doing Batch 10,12 and 13 of the CS blind was great and I ended up liking all of them, which is great because I have a bottle of each in the bunker. The only “stinker’ in this round was that Alexander Murray, which was still decent. An all-around good round.
Malt Nuts: Young Laphroaig Tasting 2 – Round 4
Nose: Sweetly fruity, smoke, touch grainy, copper and herbal.
Palate: Fruity, charred and smoky, Banana’s Foster and some malt.
Finish: Long -> Dried strawberries, leather and char.
Overall: (3.5 / 5) Deep and rich, I love the oily texture here. I’m very happy with this one.
4B: Laphroaig Cairdeas Pedro Ximenez: 58.9%
Nose: Banana, malt, dried orchard fruit, smoke and coastal notes.
Palate: Banana, malt, smoke, marshmallow, honey, dried orchard fruit and graham.
Finish: Long -> Smoke, nuts and graham.
Overall: (3.5 / 5) There is something quintessentially Laphroaig about this one. Love it.
Nose: Candied dark fruit, cocoa, fruit, cinnamon and Sunkist gems with a winey sweetness.
Palate: Candy sweet, darkly fruity, malty and smoky with a roasted nut undertone.
Finish: Long -> fruity, smoky nutty.
Overall: (4.5 / 5) A nice way to end a tasting, this is a solid Laphroaig.
Post-Reveal Commentary: A mini-battle of the Cairdeas here and seeing the Port Wood was indeed included was amazing. It’s one of my favorite Laphroaigs of all time, it’s just a magical whisky.
When we first started talking about doing a 10 and under Laphroaig, I was thinking we might get a bunch of stinkers, instead, we ended up with a lot of great OBs and several good IBs. Sure the 10 year got stretched to 12, but who’s going to complain about getting some older whisky?
This was a fun tasting that showed when comes to Laphroaig, the OBs really do set the stage and the standard by which Laphroaig should be measured. They really do put out some just fantastic stuff. If you haven’t gotten acquainted with this distillery yet, I hope this tasting motivates you to give them a try.
TIll the next one, cheers!