Peat-Meisters Laphroaig released their “Select” expression within their core range in 2014 and it seems that year was the year of the multiple-maturation boom. Whilst most distilleries have been trying this for the past few years, it seems that the marketing fad has gone too far and has even exceeded the Gillette vs Wilkinson Sword race to have multiple blades on a razor. The Select release appears to be Laphroaig’s dabble with the foray, boasting maturation through 5 different barrels: Oloroso sherry, Pedro Ximenez, white American oak, quarter casks and bourbon casks.
M: Young alcohol attack with caramel sweetness and fairly faint Laphroaig smoke – quite a lot going on. Give it a minute to breathe and that vanilla:smoke balance remains.
M: Sweet, sweet flavours with caramel and vanilla at the front and then a (surprisingly) soft smoke at the back.
M: Fresh and tingly all the way down and the smoke dies off quickly.
M: As a big fan of Laphroaig’s staple expressions (see previous notes here), I had big hopes for this when it first came out and I must say that I was disappointed. Stupidly, I’d got hyped up about it because it was Laphroaig. I’ve learned not to care about whether or not their is an age statement on a whisky bottle and I wasn’t especially wary that it’s cheaper price might have indicated a drop in quality, so my initial conclusion was that this must just be a Laphroaig for a different type of whisky drinker. Since then though, I have gone back to it from time to time and, to me, this just tastes like Laphroaig Light. It might be a neat way for the peat-ophobes to start to get acquainted with the big Laphroaig tastes – a gateway dram, if you like – but having grown up with Laphroaig as the phenolic beast I’ve come to know and love, this falls short of the mark for me. Maybe it’s the myriad of barrel influences, but all the flavours seem to cancel one another out with a resultant timid sweet-meets-peat whisky that promises more than it delivers. Scrambling for another positive though, I could drink a lot of this, which you can’t say about the 10yo, because that is all about savouring the experience. To that extent, have Laphroaig created a whisky equivalent of the Session IPA? Maybe. Just maybe.