A Couple of Burns Night Laphroaig Cocktails

Every January 25th, folks around the world (okay, mainly in Scotland) celebrate the great poet Robert Burns’ birthday with a big haggis and whisky dinner.  I’ve never had haggis, but would love to try it.  At this point it may be a goal for next year’s Burns Night.   This year, my celebration will be very small.  I’ll be making Scotch Eggs and the Ode To Whisky (Sour) cocktail (see below).

Our friends at Laphroaig shared a couple of cocktail ideas inspired by Burns Night.  In addition, they’ve also provided a neat infographic to help with your Burns Night planning.

Caitie McCabe Photography

Tam O’Shanter
By NYC mixologist Andrey Kalinin

1 1/2 parts Laphroaig® Select Scotch Whisky
1/2 part Drambuie® Liqueur
1 part Bordeaux Red Wine
3 dashes Orange Bitters
Orange Peel (for garnish)

1. Add all ingredients together in a mixing glass and stir.
2. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass (served up).
3. Garnish with a flamed orange twist.

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Caitie McCabe Photography
Ode to Whisky [Sour]
By NYC mixologist Andrey Kalinin
2 parts Laphroaig® Select Scotch Whisky
3/4 part Lemon Juice
3/4 part Heather Honey Syrup
3 dashes Cardamom Bitters
1 Egg White
Fresh Cardamom (for garnish)

1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
2. Dry shake (if using egg white).
3. Add ice and shake vigorously.
4. Pour into a coupe or martini glass (served up).
5. Garnish with cardamom flakes.

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Laphroaig 30-Year-Old Single Malt (2016) Review 

My love for Laphroaig is no secret, but the levels of admiration vary between malts.  For instance, I thoroughly enjoy the new Laphroaig Lore with its sherried richness. On the other hand, Laphroaig Select comes across as a touch anemic for my tastes.  Its signature peaty character didnt shine through.

Does that mean I won’t like older Laphroaig expressions?  After all, and I’m painting in broad strokes here, the peat component tends to calm down the older a whisky becomes.  Not necessarily.  I generally find that well made whiskies full of character like Laphroaig age well, and their bold nature is refined as the years pass by.

This is certainly true of the 2016 bottling of Laphroaig 30 year, as you’ll read in my tasting notes below.  According to press material, this limited edition bottling had a “double maturation in first and second-fill ex-bourbon casks.”  It’s bottled at 53.5% abv and retails for $1000.  So, what does a 30-year-old, bourbon barrel-matured Laphroaig taste like?

A refined nose of vanilla creme brûlée overwhelms at first. Once it settles in the glass, wood spice and ripe mango emerge alongside hints of earthy mushroom, briny peat, and orange. A soft entry for such a high proof 30 year old whisky. Lots going on here: dark toffee, freshly grated ginger, orange, and vanilla hit the palate first, followed by seaweed, tobacco and a whisp of lingering peat smoke. Some oak-driven baking spices hit the back palate, as well as a touch of astringency. The finish is long and a little warm, with orange candy, herbs and old oak.

What a zinger of a whisky!  Definitely one of the more complex Islay whiskies I’ve come across, and a completely different beast than last year’s 32-year-old Laphroaig, which was matured exclusively in sherry casks.  Both are refined and delicious, but this 30-year-old lacks the overt dried fruit notes provided by sherry casks.  This is pure, spicy and sweet bourbon barrel maturation that really allows Laphroaig’s bold character to come through.  Though it’s not as lively as the slightly younger 25-year-old bottling also being offered this year, Laphroaig 30 year is the elegant, refined, and complex peated whisky I dream about.   9.5/10

Thanks to Laphroaig for the sample!  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Laphroaig 25-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky (2016) Review

The end of the year brings two new Laphroaig bottlings – a 30-year-old and 25-year-old expression.  Laphroaig 25 is a blend of whiskies matured in second-fill European Oak sherry casks and ex-bourbon casks bottled at cask strength, or 48.6% abv.  Now we’re cooking!  There’s something interesting about extra-aged Laphroaig.  Sure, after a quarter century sitting in sherry and bourbon casks, the peaty bite that the distillery is so famous for starts to round out, but it still retains the distillery character.

How does it taste?

Lovely. Simply lovely.

The nose is bright, rich, and full of juicy seville orange, dark brown sugar, and smoked bacon. A touch of dried fruits and hay also appear. On entry, Laphroaig 25yr is more vibrant than expected for a whisky that is a quarter century old. Smoked fruits are tempered by freshly squeezed oranges. Waves of vanilla, toffee, and spiced cherries follow. Laphroaig’s signature ashy peat smoke more or less provides a soft bed, complimenting the rest of the flavors. On the back palate, tobacco and aged oak lead things into a long, slightly bitter and fruity finish, with a wisp of smoke.

Big question – is it worth the asking price of $500 a bottle?  Short answer, yes.  In fact I own a bottle from a couple of years ago.  Long answer depends on how much you’re willing to pay for a bottle of whisky, but that’s a discussion for another time.  Either way, make no mistake – this is a beautiful bottling of Laphroaig. 9/10

Thanks to Laphroaig for the sample!  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.