As more and more traditions in the world of whisky are broken and/or modified, there is one which has stood its ground over the last years: the Laphroaig 10yo CS. A cask strength version of the normal 10yo, it is offered direct through the company’s website at a very reasonable price (and usually appears in shops later on as well). It also tends to be very good value for money. I’ll be reviewing the 6th edition, bottled in February of 2014.
Laphroaig 10yo cask strength batch 006 Bottled February 2014 58.0% abv
The nose is surprisingly full-bodied. Spice and fruit fight for control while peat and a medicinal note stand by and watch. One of the things I usually get in ‘plain’ Laphroaigs from a bourbon cask is cookie dough. It’s there, but in this it is enriched with almond, sugared fruits and cream. Compared to the nose of the batch 4, which I used as a comparison, this is more complex, but less typical of the distillery style. I wouldn’t be surprised if some quarter casks went into the blend, as this feels very much cask-driven.
Onward into the taste then: without water it is spicy and nutty, with some light tropical fruits just managing to get a say in. With a splash of water, even more oaky flavours emerge, to the point of almost being over-oaked. Some smoke is present, more so with water, and it mingles well with the other flavours. The medicinal side is there as well, especially in the finish, less so in the actual taste. Once more compared to batch 4, the most conspicuously absent flavour is lemon.
Overall I find this hard to judge. When expecting a clean cask strength Laphroaig, this does not quite fit the bill. It is darker, more convoluted, less zingy. However, it is a very pleasant dram in its own right. There is much more going on than just peat-smoke and it is packed with flavour. For the same reason I slightly prefer the regular 10yo to the Quartercask (less cask, more focused taste), I rate this just a bit lower than the batch 4: 86 points
And as prices keep going up (looking at you, all other Laphroaig bottlings), this remains one of the true bargains in whisky.