I recently did something I hadn’t done in some time: open a new bottle of whisky. The bottle in question was not just any bottle either, it was a bottle of Laphroaig 18! I had purchased the bottle last summer but the occasions for indulging in premium whisky were few and far between until the holiday season. At the bequest of a visiting friend, the opportunity arose and a drinking experience matched by few others was at hand. Laphroaig is famous for its peated, smoky whiskies. Their Islay distillery also still runs its own malting floor, peating the green malt produced on site prior to kilning.
The Laphroaig 18 is bottled at 48% abv and barrier filtered. Barrier filtering is a non-chill filtering method designed to filter out larger particles in the spirit. Laphroaig uses Maker’s Mark casks in its maturation process. This 18-year-old expression recently replaced Laphroaig’s 15-year-old in their product lineup.
But enough background, on with the tasting!
The colour is a bright gold and exceptionally clear and crisp looking. The legs run smooth, thick, and slowly down the glass.
The nose does not come across as overly smoked or peated. Instead, the peat lets itself melt into nuts, honey, pear, and toffee. Some smoke lifts the oak into the sense and neatly ties all the components together.
The whisky is exceptionally smooth on the palate. I start tasting the peat immediately, but then the extraordinary depth and balance become known to me. I find some light citrus, mostly grapefruit, complimenting the nuts and honey that fill out the tasting experience. The subtle smoke plays a role in embracing the envelope of flavours and inviting me in for more. A little more concentration yield some spice and floral notes.
The finish starts sweet and continues into nuts and oak. The smoke continues to tie the experience together and reminds me of a midsummer barbecue on the smoker, but not before leaving some vanilla and honey. After a while, I get the distinct impression of salted cashew.
Overall, a wonderfully complex and full-bodied whisky. Having already reviewed the Quarter Cask, I was expecting something good from this expression, but I was not prepared for the full extent of what Laphroaig has accomplished with its 18-year-old.
This bottle is available at the SAQ in Quebec for $158. The LCBO in Ontario charges an outrageous $180. Your best bet in the area, however, is New Hampshire where a bottle can be had for $75. I love New Hampshire, which is where I purchases my example of this fine product