Islay region – 48%ABV – 750ml bottle – $39 and up | £27 | €32
So, there is a very interesting story to the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Apparently, years ago, before you and I were born (well, maybe not you, or you, or her, but he and me), the good folks at Laphroaig (and perhaps other distilleries) used to use smaller casks for transporting whisky as it was easier to do so by way of the ‘pony express’.
Well, enter the modern world where everything is about how you can ‘save a buck’, and these distilleries chose to use larger casks for transporting via rail & road.
In doing so, what was lost, however, was a quicker maturation process (due to greater contact with the wood, up to 30%) and an added oakiness the extra wood contact imparted.
Laphroaig revived quarter casking for this expression and I have to say I’m quite thankful they did. In comparison to the Laphroaig 10yr, this Quarter Cask expression has a softer mouth feel and more of a sweetness which both offsets and compliments the amount of peat in this baby. As a bonus, it’s bottled at 48%!!
Not only is this expression (in my eyes) superior in almost every way to their standard 10yr, it’s only about $7-10 more over the 10yr — a real bargain if you ask me!
Here we go!
Initial whiffs — Smoke, like a furnace blast, rather sweet, orange blossoms and extinguished soy candles, pine, oak, herbal/flowery tea (chamomile perhaps?), rotten bananas – I can almost taste the fruit flies 😉
Palate — Smokey & quite leathery, chewy but smooth in texture & medicinal/herbal, loads of oak (the quarter sized casks have a huge influence here), much better than their standard 10yr expression – the balance is great!
Finish — Long, smoky, drying finish, tons of oak here! Quite satisfying.
In sum — With all of the medicinal & herbal notes in this baby, she’ll nurse you back to health! This is like Scottish chicken soup. Quite warming, even after first sip. If you’re not a peat head, this is not one for you, this is a peaty one and I think you’d have a tough time getting past the initial smoke blast this one gives you. If you are a peat head — welcome to heaven!
Side note (or would it be a footer way down here….hmmmm) — The fact that they have a titanium white cork cap kills me. You’d think, with all of the peat in this one, that the cap would be charred & melted or something.