Friday, April 17, 2009

Laphroaig 25 Year Old

Well, as Hunter S. Thompson said when checking into Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I'm on the list. I know this because yesterday I got a sample bottle of Laphroaig 25 Year Old, a malt so good I hardly feel worthy to open it up.

But I did. And let me tell you, after a couple drops of water to take the 51.2% ABV edge off the booger, a few snorts made me feel like I was worthy. So much so that I had some more.

So. Cask strength, aged in both sherry and bourbon barrels, and full of that tangible Laphroaig peatiness, the kind of flavor that scares most people off Scotch whisky and ensnares others into a lifelong love. After those careful drops of water, there's honey, and flowers, and fresh-snapped spring twigs. Roll it into the mouth, full, oily, with a big floor of gentle sweetness, but roofed with a brittle, sharp slating of peat that lets you know this is Laphroaig. 25 years mellowed, perhaps, but like a 50 year old ex-Marine: it's still going to demand your respect as it kicks your ass.

To my delight, I'm finally getting some marine character from a scotch. I've heard about this, but never noted it. As the peat and malt fades, there's a briney character that slides through, like fresh tidal pool. I don't think it comes from seaside aging, rather from some interaction of whisky and wood and palate, but there it is.

A rewarding half hour. Thanks to Laphroaig for this sample. I may pull out a couple of the leftover bottles I brought home from WhiskyFest Chicago (announcement at the end of every WhiskyFest: "Exhibitors, please do not give any empty or opened bottles to attendees. This is against hotel rules (it is, really) and all bottles will be confiscated as attendees leave (and they are). Please leave any opened bottles at the Malt Advocate table." Hey, RHIP, baby. Besides, when we get a lot, we go find after-parties and pass a few out). I got a Glenfarclas 105 that is just wonderful, and a 12 year old Auchentoshan that's just begging to be compared to Jameson. Might have to do that later tonight. I've got some Harpoon to taste, too. Oh, yeah.


Bill said...

Oooohhh, if only I were rich and connected...

I've always gotten the briny character from Laphroaig's and Lagavulin's regular bottlings. A couple of other Islays as well.

If a whisky review on Malt Advocate mentions salt or seaweed or brine, should I assume it's not you doing the reviewing?

Lew Bryson said...

Heh. If there's a whisky review in Malt Advocate, assume I'm not doing it. John does all of them, always has. We think it's a strength: consistency.

Bill said...

(Another Bill here.)

How can I get on that list?!?

Lew, you don't get a marine character from Bowmore? Practically any bottling of it I've tried had a definite salt-air taste.

Lew Bryson said...

Ah, Bill... I'm really an American whiskey guy (part of that "not worthy" part), but I'm learning Scotch whisky. It's part of my job: I have to. Scary. So I have to admit: I've only ever had Bowmore twice.

It's okay to hate me. But I'm learning quickly.

Steven said...


Um, about that trade... ;-)

Lew Bryson said...

Heh. Good luck with that, lad.