You would have had to be living in a cave, to have not seen or heard any of the controversy the Laphroaig Select has caused, some people were nonplussed, some people were outraged and some people loved it. From what I’ve read it seems to have a lot to do with the fact it’s been bottled at 40%ABV, which some say, has meant it’s lost the typical Laphroaig charm. Having wanted to let the “drama” die down a little, we’ve waited to taste it until now (although we’ve been itching to try it).
This expression sees the whisky taken from a several different casks, using white American Oak, Quarter Casks, Pedro Ximenese Hogsheads, Oloroso Sherry butts and first fill bourbon casks. If nothing else this promises to be an intriguing dram. You can buy the Laphroaig Select here from Master of Malt at £34.16 for a 70cl bottle.
I’m very relieved to find the traditional medical notes are still present! There’s wonderful TCP, fresh sticking plasters, fresh bandages and menthol notes at the fore, followed by a lighter citrus hit, waxed lemons, freshly rolled limes. Then right at the back comes the very gentle wave of peat. It’s softer than I would expect, more dirty, like wet earth mixed with sand and a little sea water. There’s just a touch of brine and sea spray, but it’s fleeting.
Honey sweetness, a very herbal note all ferns and soft moss. There’s a touch of clover coming through, bringing a perfumed floral touch, before spices finally make themselves known. There’s a warming dash of ginger and sweet nutmeg with vanilla pods. There’s a little fruit, sharp tangy oranges and a sour note, like sour laces. There is a very gentle touch of peat wrapped in leather, but that’s quickly replaced by double cream and soft caramel. On secondary tasting, having let it open up for half an hour I actually found that the peat pushed itself more to the fore, but it still quickly makes way for the sweeter, lighter flavours.
Creamy and sweet, mouth coating soft, like the softest suede against your tongue. The medicinal notes are there, if you really look for them, but very gently, that fresh sticking plaster has turned into one that’s been kicked around a dirty playground for a few days. There’s a slight hint of crisp apple and the tiniest amount of smoke at the top of the palate.
Well, I wanted to love this, I make no bones about the fact Laphroaig is one of my absolute favourite distilleries and anybody who knows us, knows we will have several Laphroaig’s on the go at any one time, I also desperately wanted to be able to spring to its defence as it was garnering such a backlash.
For me, on my very first taste I found it very watery and I suppose that’s where the problems lie, it’s not that this is a terrible whisky (It isn’t), it’s that it is just so different to Laphroaig’s normal style. This expression is still packed full of flavours, it’s just that they are so much softer than you may expect. I would give this to someone who told me they didn’t like peat, as there is so much sweetness and so little peat I think that this may well convert them. Personally this needs to come up a little in strength for me, I think at 46% ABV, bringing in a little more heat this would be dramatically (see what I did there?) raised.
Once allowing the whisky half hour or so in the glass the peat does make itself known a little more forcefully, but is still replaced fairly quickly with the sweeter notes.
If Laphroaig wanted to create a softer, lighter, almost summer version of themselves, then I think this is what they have achieved, almost in the way that perfumes (stick with me guys) will often release a summer edition of the same fragrance. It will still have the same overall signature ingredients, but they will be lighter and fresher. For me this is a summer Laphroaig. I would happily drink this again and it is in no way is a “bad” whisky. I don’t think it really deserves the harsher comments out there. I agree that it’s a little “watered down” but it’s still complex in its own way. When you try this one, do it with an open mind and try and forget everything you may have read, and see what you think, you might just find you really like it.
In conclusion not a bad dram at all, it’s good value at the price, but don’t expect a “typical” Laphroaig. Definitely summertime drinking or for the peat virgin. Light, sweet and fruity, whatever you do though, don’t add water!
Briny water with hints of lemon and lime, ash fire with slight hints of burnt bacon. Fresh breeze with small dollops of cream before finishing with boiled sweets.
Briny sea water with seaweed, the cream from the nose is still there alongside the lemon, some hot waters filtered through ash. Dry leaves and a hint of lime juice.
The dram sits on your tongue dancing around before deciding it’s hard enough and leaves the party quickly through evaporating. Really short and not long enough.
Overall not a bad edition to the Laphroaig range, but where is it meant to fit in. Not as good as the QC, 10 or 18, this really needs to be upped in percentage and I am slightly confused as to exactly what its purpose is.