Laphroaig 25 (2018 Edition)
Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland
Reviewed October 14, 2022 (edited October 15, 2022)
Nose: A blast of brine, pinepple with tajin, smoke, seaweed. Celery, carrot vegetal sweetness. Brown sugar and vanilla - no doubt from spending so long in an ex-bourbon cask. I could live in this nose. Citrus peel, cream, black pepper. Subtle nutmeg and allspice. Tarry rope. It's unistakably Laphroaig, but with added depth and richness. Palate: Minty, fruity, peaty, smokey, briny. Oak and vanilla much more prominent than the nose. Black and pink peppercorns. Tannins show up and help make the mouthfeel interesting. Tea - black and green. The retronasal is ashy, worn-in smoke. Brown sugar syrup. Ultra-ripe apricots and peaches. Red apples. Heather honey. That the distillate character made it this far is pretty amazing - and a testament to the quality. Stunningly balanced - the smoke, ash, and peat aren't as punchy as you'd get in, say, the 10 year, but still hold up remarkably well against the rest of what's happening. Medium mouthfeel. Finish: That pinepple and brine combo again. Oak, vanilla, brown sugar set up a base. Ash, damp earth, mint. Raw phenolic content and ethanol provide a bit of a break before candied lemon peel, cracked black pepper, and anise start dancing around. Medium-long length. With a few drops of water: The tea comes forward, with a bit of eucalyptus. The pineapple turns into more of a mango. The oak a little drier. Palate mellows a little and becomes more friendly. Same with the finish, though there's an added effervescence that provides a nice contrast. The phenols also linger a bit longer on my tongue and give me a beatiful sensation (and taste!) of cherry Chloraseptic. In the best possible way. Other notes: Whenever I get into anything above $100 a bottle, I brace myself for tremendous disappointment. Sometimes, I'm pleasantly surprised that the liquid contained within meets my critereon for "great". Very rarely, it will rise to my definition of "exceptional". And there's a very high bar to meet that latter designation: it has to present something weird, increidbly refined, or otherwise outside the norm in a pleasant manner. In A/Bing this with the standard 10 year, the evolution is wildly apparently, and for the better. Behind the smoke and ash and peat, 10 is very pretty. Almost light. The 25's mid-palate is filled in while still keeping plenty of the top, bright, pretty characteristics. Considering this whiskey on it's own merits, I would place it in the "exceptional" category. Is it worth the ultra-high price tag? Probably not. But it's still fantastic. From memory (since I have none on hand), the 10 CS offers a similarly amped-up experience but misses the depth and richness, characteristics you're only going to get from this much age. Well worth a glass. Maybe not worth a bottle. Clearly not something I'll be able to keep regularly stocked. But something I'm very, very happy I got this for my collection. Bravo. Slainte!
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