On Tuesday of this week, I gathered a few friends, old and new, around to have a tasting. The assembled guests were varied and came from all walks of life. Rebecca Heptinstall whose blog, foodie foodie nom is always a good read. John Mccheyne from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Niamh from the ever popular Eat Like a Girl blog, the very tallented chef Maria Elia, photographer Simon Hanna, scribe Paul Antonio, Simon Ewins from Pomp Magazine, a fab crowd from The Caxton Grill, and the “fresher” from Barchick. In total about 24 people took to their seats in Liberty Lounge for a 90 min tasting and the usual jokes.
There was quite a line-up of whisky to discuss as well, starting off with the Weymss Malt “The Hive”, then onto the Chapter 6 from The English Whisky company, Balvenie 15 single cask, Bowmore Darkest 15, Glenfiddich 18 year old and a Scotch Malt Whisky bottling to finish with (a 27yr old Clynelish but you didn’t hear that from me ). Not a single whisky was turned down, and whilst many in the room were able to pick a favourite upon the conclusion of the tasting, it was fairly equal across the board for each had its own personality and drew fans to it for different reasons such as The Hive fooling most into “bee”lieving it was a single malt and the Balvenie Single Cask converted a previously adamant whisky hater to the joys of a dram! It turned into an interesting night with the guests eventually highjacking the sound-system and dancing into the wee hours.
Twitter was buzzing with little comments back and forward as each bottle came up for review, but it was one tweet from the American ambassador for Laphroaig, Simon Brooking that spurred this blog into action. He said, after seeing the picture I had tweeted before the event “Perhaps something with a bit more sea-sprayed peat would treat you right?
And so, upon returning to DW HQ, I had a look over the bottles in the warehouse (cupboard) and picked out something with a bit more sea-spray to review.
Laphroaig 18 yr old, 48% abv
Aged in “first-fill” bourbon cask
Originally launched in 2009, the 18 yr old is now the replacement of the 15 yr old.
Each year sees it released in limited quantities (7,500 cases).
Appearance: Deep straw with yellow gold.
Nose: (uncut) Softer than expected, warm salted butter with pine sap and malt loaf. Good oak backbone and faint examples of old moist driftwood. Rope from a quayside and brown wrapping paper mingle with the classic, if somewhat subdued medicinal and coal tar notes. Soft jammy plum and dark red fruit finish the ensemble.
Palate: (uncut) Tar and spice of tobacco and liquorice. Salt comes bounding through with the sea-spray and smoke drifts not far behind it. Nutty at the same time as fruity, but very well integrated.
Finish: Lingering fresh salt and light honey suckle delight the palate long after the liquid leaves the party.
I tried a splash of water with it, cutting it back to around 43%. To be honest, apart from the increased creamy texture expected from un-chill filtered whisky, it wasn’t for me as the softness of the uncut dram is subtle enough to tempt even first time Laphroaig tipplers who perhaps had heard the rumours about this peaty monster.