Headbangers Whisky Review: Laphroaig 15 Old vs New

It’s time to resume the Headbangers series reviews. But as I want to review another Laphroaig whisky before the summer finally settle in here (which is late by normal standards), Let’s do a headbangers review of Laphroaig 15. We’ll pit the old (pre-2009 Laphroaig 15 vs Laproaig 15 the 200th Anniversary version.

Yes, a fight of the same expression but the truth is it’s not exactly the same expression. The old 15 Year old was a very popular, being milder than the 10 year old and more delicate. But in 2009 they stopped producing it and instead we got the 18 yo (which is my top favorite OB Laphroaig).

But since then a lot changed in the whisky industry and as the demand is skyrocketing and stock levels are going down in an alarming rate, it was time to revert to the old lineup and reintroduce the 15 instead of the 18.

But it’s not only time (six years) that differentiate between those expressions. Production and materials may have changed. Perhaps even a conscious decision to change the whisky profile to fit the current demand? Let’s check then!

Laphroaig 15 Year Old (Pre-2009, 43%)

Laphroaig 15 Year Old (200th Anniversary, 43%)

laphroaig 15 pre 2009 laphroaig 15 200 anniversary
Soft, layered light sweet sherry with gentle peat, ash and cold chimney smoke, a touch of TCP. underneath it’s fruity and vanilla, honey, there’s body of work here and the peat is almost secondary comparing to regular Laphroaigs. With time it’s getting lighter (less sherry), dirtier and complex. Nose Soft and close at first, almost too simple. Then it opens up and deliver sweet peat, an almost non-existing ash and smoke Fruity, thinner and very salty, almost no TCP and iodine. Suddenly a massive paint thinner wave which wasn’t too funny nor good and a dash of lemon.
Sweet old sherry, sourness, berries, then much more peat, tar, ash and smoke. TCP, oak wood spices and soursweet vinegar sherry . Palate Peatier, cleaner and more bourbon-like, paint thinner, sweet honey, ends with grapefruits bitterness and rubbery candies.
Medium-long finish. Peat, ash and smoke, lingering sweet dried dark fruits and berries. Finish Medium length finish. Sweeter, modern, honey and dash of sweet lemonade, lingering peat.

Conclusions: The old trumps the new by FAR for us here at Whisky Gospel HQ. The old 15 yo is richer, complex and layered while the new 15 yo is simpler, having modern profile with more peat and bourbon impact sweetness. The new 15 yo which replaces the 18 yo can be found online for higher price from some leftovers of the 18. In such cases I say – get the 18! And the 15? best to get the 10 CS if you like your Laphroaig unrestrained and extra peated.

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