Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Laphroaig 18 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 48.4% ABV)
Visual: Quite light grain gold.
Viscosity: Slow thin puckering.
Nose: Salted rocks. Peat. Medicinal. Dry. Ash. Salted lemon. Water adds ashtray style notes.
Body: Dry. Lemon juice. Vanilla. White grapes. Dry white wine. Salt. Peat. Water adds lemon cordial and wine gums. Slight oily and slight creamy character.
Finish: Lemon juice and dry salted lemons. Slight golden syrup. Cinder toffee. Water adds more lemon. Toffee. Even more water adds malt chocolate.
Conclusion: This is an odd mix of fresh squeezed lemon and dry salted lemons, all mixed up with a medicinal Laphroaig character. It is less harsh than the similar medicinal notes in a younger Laphroaig, but it still shows some of that pure salt behind the more mellow salted lemon character.
Nice as this is it doesn’t have the booming depth or intensity of the Quarter Cask – instead it makes a fresher, and somehow refreshing, yet intense character. The spirit is smooth – showing surprisingly little alcohol character and with that gives a show of an oily base and a slight creamy character that doesn’t seem to come out in other expressions I have tried. With water it becomes more creamy and slightly dessert like making it almost a medicinal lemon meringue of the Islay world. Another case of words I never thought I would type. I know the idea sounds horrible. It is not. This is actually pretty darn nice.
This is a strange expression – the lemon character reminds me of the unpopular Laphroaig Select – an ok whisky but one I tend to refer to as the lemonade of the Laphroaig world due to its lighter character and lack of a lot of what makes Laphroaig recognisable. This however does not sacrifice its fuller character as it brings in the smoothness and lemon flavours, making it far better than that weaker attempt. In fact this lays in the same area as the blended malt Kiln Embers – which is both a complement – as that is a very nice whisky – and a problem, as that was far cheaper than this expression. This is slightly better than Kiln Embers, but only just and for that slight bit extra it costs a lot more cash. So, depending on your cash flow, make your choice. Had as I did, I enjoyed it, but for grabbing a bottle – Kiln Embers is the one I would return to if you can still find it.
Background: One of 317 bottles this is a rare independent bottling, single cask Laphroaig expression and the final of the five whiskies had at the uber whisky tasting night at Independent Spirit. I am a huge Laphroaig fan, and you don’t see many bottlings of these guys so was looking forwards to this. My photo skills were pretty much gone by the time I took a photo of this glass – sorry – I blame alcohol. As before due to the social environ and number of whiskies tried at the event my notes may be less comprehensible than normal – I try my best.