The Laphroaig Cask Strength (the recent one) series has been a keen interest to me. For the first three batches. They had the jam and the bite, which I enjoyed very much. Especially 002 and 003 were the spot on, with their smoke and peatfire in balance. I skipped 004 and 005 mostly for availability reasons, but since the 006 came out I had to revisit the timeline and see how they are progressing. This one has been bottled on February 2014 and it actually has an age statement: 10YO. Matured in seasoned oak barrels. And it is cask strength (58%) - which I usually enjoy since it adds to the experience.
The nose is like a small, well burning, cooking fireplace. There is heat and then there is sometimes some smoke. The nose is surprisingly weak, until you try it out very carefully – to avoid the heat – you can find out something about Laphroaig in it.
The body is first very sweet and it is accompanied by oak, along came some spices and peatfire that expands from the kitchen cooking flame into a flaming fireball that rapidly fills the room. The smoke that follows is combined with peat and vanilla adding complexity to the taste. For a moment, this is almost a overwhelming situation – but the vast power fades very rapidly leaving a nice and long finish that contains the peatfire, smokiness and oak.
On the second sip, I find that ash and coal are more closely present. Fire is still hot, but oily sweetness covers the tongue in a pleasant manner. Oiliness remains and carries the finish out very nicely.
With this all strong drams, some suggest adding water into them while I usually suggest taking very small sips. I like to experience the power and the taste and I have found out that many times adding a few drops of water will make the dram feel .. well… watered down. Occasionally, it has expanded the taste, but it does not work for everybody. Small sips and nature’s own means will create the combination inside mouth that will give the best of both worlds.
If I were to compare, 002 and 003 would wipe the table with this one. They have more charred personality, more intimidation and much more smoke with salty peatfire. However, this one is more subtle, more hiding and a much more difficult personality. It would be a comparison that is not fair for either of these two. They are brothers, who are too not alike. And they both have their moments. But if I were to pick which one I’d pour onto my glass… I’d choose 002/003 much more often than this one – especially if I am after a smoky peatfire experience with strong ashes.
After writing that, I must note that the finish is still present and thus it is a long and a very pleasant. It has the enjoyable oiliness running around my mouth, the sweet oak and some peatfire that smolders with a style. Not a bad experience, after all! In addentum: I heard that adding water might actually do very good for this dram. I must take that under the test during the summer!