Thursday, October 11, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #174

Laphroaig 27 yo
Islay Single Malt Whisky
57.6% abv

Vatted from five Oloroso sherry casks filled with Laphroaig in 1980 and yielding 972 bottles to be released in the US, UK, and World Duty Free, this new Laphroaig with the sharp black label has a lot of whisky lovers rubbing their hands (and genie lamps) with anticipation.

Sharp but simple packaging, no gold plating or walnut box, and I have checked and Robert Hicks' signature isn't fetching big bucks on eBay... "so, what's with the huge price tag?", you ask.

We need to remember two things: (1) sherry casks don't come cheap and Laphroaig matures almost all of their stock (and many would say Laphroaig matures best) in American ex-bourbon oak casks, so we are tasting something here that could undoubtedly has only a handful of siblings. 5 oloroso casks of one vintage went into this bottling and one imagines that was a big percentage of the total sherry casks filled in 1980 by Laphroaig. (2) Owners Beam Global have obviously been working with a new marketing plan with their Scotch whiskies and they have added new(and welcome) extensions to a Laphroaig line that has been the same for decades. They have brought us Quarter Cask, a new 25yo, and this 27yo. Let's hope they don't decide it wise to 'update' the packaging.

Point is that this stuff is rare and fetching what the folks at Beam Global figure it is worth. If you love Laphroaig (and are stinking rich), this is something you will go to great lengths to get your hands on. And if you love Laphroaig and are a loyal customer and have been for years and have just lost your 10yo or Cask Strength in your market, then tough shit. Sure, Laphroaig may have lost their £25 x 4 times a year customer, but they don't need you if they can sell 1000 of these puppies. This isn't me ranting, this is the new message that folks are hearing. Let's hope it is temporary.

But, frig, that Quarter Cask is tasty. I guess we should be grateful and thank our lucky stars... and pray for a money tree. We will be having a few more Laphroaigs next week.


Big old nose with smoke and heavy sherry. Tarry, like roadwork. Syrupy, like a glass that was once filled with Coca-Cola and has all evaporated leaving that gummy residue. Melted chocolate, grape Jello, apples, calvados? With time a minty fudginess comes through with (unsoiled) kitty litter, maple syrup and charred oak.

A big impact and viscous, like a whisky reduction. Cold to the tongue somehow, musty. Sherry, chlorine, blood, pipe smoke, plums, cloves, and a late kiss of sexy smoke. Ever developing and drying through the finish with roots of licorice and ginger, spice and smoke.


Holy crap. Big monster of a whisky with bucketloads of character and immense chewiness leaving much to mull over. Sherry and peat and more, although certainly not for everyone... but they already made that clear with the price tag, I suppose. A whisky to sip while making a big decision, like whether to sell the house in the Alps or the Penthouse in NYC. Or how to take out a loan to buy another bottle.

Malt Mission #171
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Malt Mission #173
Malt Mission #175

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Unknown said...

Come on Sam, you know it was shit awful

Tim Jacobs said...

You're right about the way that Laphroaig and the other distilleries are currently pricing: for the rich. And while this may 'work' in the sense of bringing in the same revenue albeit from fewer sources, it inevitably has the unfortunate consequence of alienating true whisky lovers in favour of rich fop collectors who would collect rabbit-fur keychains if the price was a grand each.

Also, in the long run, whisky enthusiasts for the particular brand dwindle because the numbers decline as frugal customers move to more affordable and still-tasty brands.

Um, pass the Teacher's Highland Cream, will ya?

Nice blog, PS.