Oh, Laphroaig. It’s not only one of my favorite peated whiskies, it is one of my favorite whiskies, period. Imagine my joy when I heard about their new series, The Ian Hunter Story. Mr. Hunter was distillery manager between 1908 and 1944. He made important changes in the production process while in charge, like introducing American oak barrels into as maturation vessels. It’s clear he helped mold the flavor of the distillery into what it is today.
To honor Ian Hunter, the distillery is introducing this first entry in the Ian Hunter Story – Book 1: Unique Character. The 30-year-old single malt aged in first-fill bourbon barrels. It’s non-chill filtered and bottled at 46.7% abv.
So, does this whisky live up to it’s story?
At three decades old, this still has that Laphroaig DNA, albeit in a softer delivery. The nose features lemon candy and some peat smoke that’s less in your face than you’d think. As peated whiskies age, the smoky quality softens over time. Ripe orchard fruit, vanilla, and orange blossom honey round out the nose. On the palate, waves of lightly smoked honey arrive with flair, followed by hints of pepper and peat. Aromatic oak and seaweed meet a touch of rancio. The long finish is surprisingly sweet. Salted caramel pairs with toasted old oak and smoked herbs.
My answer to the above question is an emphatic yes! This is some of the loveliest older Laphroaig I’ve ever tasted. Can I use the word delicate to describe Laphroaig? This is the only time I can fathom using that word. It’s intricately flavored and blossoms beautifully in the glass with some time. I’m not going to call a $1,250 bottle of whisky a steal, but…
Thanks to Laphroaig for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Ultra-aged expressions of Laphroaig can be some mighty fine whisky. For 2018, the distillery has released a 28-year-old expression. The whiskies that make up this expression have matured in different sized casks, from quarter casks to butts. For the last year, they’ve been married together in sherry casks. Peated whisky in sherry casks? I’m sold.
Bottled at 44.4% ABV, Laphroaig 28-year-old has a fantastically interesting nose with hints of toffee, dried herbs, tropical fruit, anise, and cloves. On the palate, fresh fruit juice and stewed pears are matched with toasted cedar staves, peppercorns, brine and grilled mushrooms. The finish is long with sweet peat, grilled tropical fruit, and spice.
The Islay-based distillery has done it again. It’s released a carefully matured whisky showcasing some of its best qualities. This expensive ($799) bottle is a treasure trove of classic Laphroaig aromas and flavors delivered in droves. The tropical fruit and spice notes are prominent, as the famous medicinal-like notes come across in a more laid back fashion. Delicious. Yes. Expensive? Definitely. Worth it? If you can afford it. 9/10
Laphroaig ends the year on a high note with the release of its 27-year-old single malt. This expression is the latest entry in the brand’s Super Premium series, following exquisite 32-year-old and 30-year-old whiskies, released in 2015 and 2016, respectively. For this 2017 release, whiskies matured in refill hogsheads were transferred to first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and refill quarter casks. After more than a quarter century of maturation, Laphroaig 27-year-old is bottled at 83.4 proof, or 41.7 ABV. It would be safe to assume this is cask strength given its random proof.
The whisky carries rich aromas of tropical fruit, leather, peat, citrus, and vanilla. On entry, vanilla cream develops into key lime pie, tobacco leaf, and tropical fruit punch. Hints of earthy peat and smoke begin gently piercing though but don’t overpower the other flavors. Of note is the whisky’s oily mouthfeel, which coats the palate in flavor. Though Laphroaig 27-year-old is a low 83.4 proof, it doesn’t present itself as thin or watered down. The finish is long and slightly warming with a citrus-tinged smoky character.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a fan. Laphroaig has another winner on their hands with this release. It is a satisfying, well-matured, and balanced whisky. Laphroaig lovers with deep pockets ($750 a bottle) should seek this out quickly, as it’s a one-time release. Highly recommended! 8.5/10