When a whisky legend like Fred Laing, who has been working in the industry for half a century (and counting), hand-picks a cask for a special occasion, you know that liquid greatness is inbound. And indeed, I cannot think of a better term to describe this 16-year-old Laphroaig, which Douglas Laing’s Managing Director and Master Blender unearthed from the company archives in celebration of DouglasLaing.com’s two-year anniversary. Although I am a total smokehead, I have to say that I sometimes find it difficult to make out too many different scents and flavors in a heavily peated malt. But not in this case! Both in the nose as well as on the palate, this fabulous ‘Phroaig unleashes a sheer flood of sensations! Every time you hold it close to you nostrils or let it slide down your throat, you make new discoveries. There’s smoke (of course), there’s salt, there’s wood, there’s herbs and there’s even something sweet. When I visited Laphroaig Distillery earlier this year, I was told that their peat storage units do not have doors because they want all of Islay’s elements to enter, influence and shape their whisky. A beautiful concept that is perfectly realized in this masterful Directors’ Cut bottling.
Eye: Sandstone yellow.
Nose: The delicate nose is full of astonishing aromas. There is wet moss on clammy rocks, barnacles on a wooden pier and a slight whiff of iodine-laden sea air. Additionally, I also made out a bit of peppermint, some lemon zest and a little oak. The peatsmoke is thin and distant, like fleeting wafts of mist passing by the shore line.
Palate: The waves aren’t washing onto the beach here, they are crashing against the cliffs! This whisky is not only stunningly complex and exciting, but also really powerful and stormy. The strong ABV forms a solid foundation on which thick smoke (yes, now we are getting the full dose o’ peat), salted caramel and maritime notes unfold. Some nutty, earthy and herby flavors are in there, too. Islay galore!
Finish: Long… and good. The smoke takes a turn towards Laphroaig’s signature medical character now, accompanied by burnt pastry and dark-roasted thyme.
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Region: Scotland (Islay)
Alc. volume: 57.6%
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
Price range: ~180.00 Euro
More info: http://www.douglaslaing.com/ (Bottler) ; http://www.laphroaig.com/ (Distillery)