What is one to do on a Friday night with three expressions of Laphroaig? Well, when you are staying at a condominium development with the acronym BOTL, drinking comes to mind. Knowing that there is a small but regular group of residents creating their own Friday night happy hour in the club house, I packed up my bottles and headed over. Once I pulled out my stash, a group of four quickly agreed to participate in a Laphroaig tasting. The rules were simple: using the supplied whisky wheel as a guide, each participant would describe the nose, taste, and finish. Then when the tasting was completed, rank the order of whisky preference.
An interesting side note is that Laphroaig was new to three of the four tasters. The same three were not generally whisky drinkers but very willing to give it a go!
First up was Laphroaig Cairdeas Port Wood 2013 Edition at 51.3%. “The expression has enjoyed a double maturation in bourbon and port wood casks to create an exceptional balance of our signature peat flavor with tangy citrus fruits and a floral finish.” (On the bottle.) The golden color a perfect tone for whisky.
Immediately there were “Ohs” and “Wows” amongst the tasters. A few who were watching asked to smell it.
- Nose: Chemical; Earthy/dirt; Buttery/earthy aroma; Smoky
- Taste: Smoke and Peat; Medicine at first; Buttery; Jasmine, burnt sugar
- Finish: After the burn, sweet; Strong to sweet; Hickory/woodsy; Strong/burnt sugar
Next up was the Laphroaig Triple Wood at 48%. “Triple matured for peat, oak and subtle sweetness.” (On the bottle.) The color is deeper, richer.
- Nose: Rubbing alcohol; Light; Woodsy; Sweeter than Cairdeas
- Taste: Woodsy/earthy; Full bodied; sweet/fruity; spicy pepper over fruit
- Finish: Clean, antiseptic, good aftertaste; Roasted; Fruity; woody
Last up was the Laphroaig 18 YO at 48%. The bottle states “As the smoke fades, the flavours of nutty oak,, toffee, and wild heather merge in perfect harmony.” The group noticed the lightness in color compared to the previous expressions.
- Nose: Earthy aroma; Mild; Sweet; Pure smoke
- Taste: Spicy cloves; Fruity; Fruity; Citrus, Medicinal
- Finish: Smooth and mild; Subtle; Smooth and buttery; Gentle smoke
The descriptions stated on bottles fascinate me – distilleries weave poetic and on and on. Whereas, my little group kept it short, succinct. Somewhere in between hides the descriptive balance. Perhaps.
My little tasting group had no problem deciding their favorites:
- Two voted the 18 YO as tops
- Two voted the Triple Wood as tops
- All four liked the Cairdeas the least.
Personal tastes and preferences run the full range of whisky expressions. Thank you whisky distillers! There is indeed something for each of us.
The good news is that I still have some of each of the Laphroaig bottles so I can continue to conduct my own tasting and I don’t have to wait until Friday night!
I raise a glass to Laphroaig for continuing to offer smoke and peat and damn good whisky!