Yesterday’s post on the 1815 got me in a Laphroaig mood, so here’s another Laphroaig review but this time it’s a special post recapping a special Laphroaig tasting that was held by my friend Yori, a certified Laphroaig geek.
Theme of the tasting: Vertical tasting of the official Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength releases. Over the last few years he collected samples and bottles of all Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength variants – from the Green Stripe to Batch 009 that was released in 2017 for a total of eleven variants of 10 Year Old Laphroaig Cask Strength.
So on a sunny and not too cold Friday morning last November, we sat down for a 4.5 hours marathon tasting of Cask Strength Laphroaig. Which one was the best? and which one was the worst? I suggest you take a deep breath before diving into the notes, but if you just want my full ranking, it’s at the bottom after the long list of the tasting notes.
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength Green Stripe 57.3%
Nose: Rich and thick body, wet peat, bonfire and tar, anise, honey, perfume, iodine and TCP.
Palate: Rich fruitiness, pears and peaches, honey , malt, sweet peat, bonfire smoke, tar, ends with fruits, getting dryer after a while.
Finish: Long, rich, pepper spicy, honey, pears, oak spices and peat
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength Red Stripe (Straight from the wood) 55.7%
Nose: Subdued and shy at first, sweet fruit, pears, red apples, sweet peat, gentle smoke and ashes.
Palate: sweet peat, wet ashes in paste form, fruity again with tropical fruitiness edge, iodine and a touch of salt.
Finish: Long, ashy, peat, sweet fruit red apples. Overall it’s very ashy and velvety.
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #001 Feb 2009 57.8%
Nose: Somewhere in between the green and red stripes, fruity, ashes, sweet peat, oily, olives, lots of citrus, mandarins, oranges, pears yellow apples.
Palate: Sweeeeet peat, ashes, smoke, honey, white pepper, sour sweet tropical fruit juice and gentle oak spices.
Finish: Long, oak spices, white pepper, honey, fruity, green seaweed
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #002 Jan 2010 58.3%
Nose: Reminisces the rep stripe nose. Fruity, ashes, got more Oomph, honey, sweet gentle peat but it’s not so earthy, dryness, TCP and seaweed.
Palate: Sweet peat, honey, ashes, tarry, seaweed, TCP. With water it’s oakier, some pepper, fruity (tropical fruits shows up again).
Finish: Long, pepper, honey, sweet fruitiness, TCP , seaweed and iodine.
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #003 Jan 2011 55.3%
Nose: Not too impressive and ok-ish instead of the massive and live noses of the previous drams. Sweet peat, honey, a bit of TCP and iodine in the background, yellow plums. Water brings out more peat.
Palate: Sweet peat, honey, very sweet, gentle smoke, creme brulee. With water: oak spices and pepper, a bit of tropical fruit.
Finish: Medium long, sweet peat and honey. With water: oak spices. Overall the weakest so far, very one dimensional.
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #004 Jan 2012 58.3%
Nose: Improvement over #003. Still sweet peat but it’s wet peat type which I like a lot. Ashes, TCP, white wine and vinegar.
Palate: Oooh, very maritime with salt, brine, peat and seaweed, white pepper and wine vinegar. Lovely.
Palate: Sweet peat, dry, vinegar, maritime-y
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #005 Feb 2013 57.2%
Nose: Sweet peat, smokey, meaty, full bodied, wine vinegar, oily, honeyed dried apricots and pears.
Palate: Dry, peat, cured meat, ashy, honey and pears
Finish: Long, lingering dryness, ashy, pears sweetness, honey and gentle oak spices.
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #006 Feb 2014 58.0%
Nose: Earthy peat, winter-y with roasted chestnut, honey, sweet peat, red fruit, red apples, vanilla, wasabi, vinegar. With water sweeter, fruit and peat.
Palate: Peat, nutty, vinegar mezcal, iodine, ginger, red apples, ashes, pepper and gentle oak spices.
Finish: Long, nuts paste, gentle peat, honey and pepper.
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #007 Jan 2015 56.3%
Previously reviewed on the blog. See notes here
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #008 Mar 2016 59.2%
See notes here
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch #009 Feb 2017 58.1%
Nose: Peat smoke but with fresh seaweed , restrained at first, cured salted meat, smoke which tends to be semi dry with time and oxidation, chiseled, weak iodine, a touch of menthol, fruitiness, pears, honey and peaches.
Palate: Dry peat smoke, underlying rich honey and fruitiness, pears and peaches bursting to the front when it recedes. Pepper and oak spices, dry again at the end.
Finish: Medium long length, dry peat smoke, dried smoked meat, pears and honey
Thoughts and ranking: Phew that was an intense session. It wasn’t an easy task to go through all those cask strength whiskies in one long session but it was fun and educational. My top 5 drams were also highly ranked by most of the participants in the tasting, just ranked in a different order. However, there was a consensus on the worst of tasting and that was Batch #003. Here’s my full ranking:
1st place and the winner of the tasting: Batch #002, it’s like the red stripe but it was even but better.
Batch #001 – A balanced dram between the red tripe and the green stripe
Batch #004 – Very maritime and a good recovery after #003
Red Stripe – Was weaker this time but I remember it fondly.
Batch #003 – By far the worst. Sweet and flat.
Should we try this kind of madness again in a few months time when Batch #010 is released? Time will tell.