By Richard Thomas
Last year Laphroaig made single malt lovers swoon by reintroducing its 25 Year Old expression. This year the distillery caught most observers off guard with the launch of a 27 Year Old, something few if any were expecting. One might wonder how much of a difference just two years of extra aging might make in a Scotch. The answer is usually something noticeable at this stage, because an increase of two years is still just shy of +10%.
The bigger deal here, however, is not the age statement but in the stock from whence the single malt came. Laphroaig 25 Year Old came from a mix of ex-bourbon barrels and second-fill Oloroso Sherry casks, whereas the 27 Year Old is drawn from first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and reused quarter casks.
Of course it’s old Scotch, it’s from Islay, and moreover it’s a Laphroaig. But beyond that it serves as an interesting point of comparison, because despite the extra two years one would expect Laphroaig 27 to be very similar to Laphroaig 25, but it’s not. That ought to serve as a reminder of what a blender can do with the palette provided by the various types of casks used to age Scotch whisky. Laphroaig 27 was bottled at 41.7% ABV.
The look of this single malt is one of dulled gold, and the coat drops just a few legs. The nose is quite smoky and spiced generously with cinnamon. That is accented with a little sweet tobacco leaf and a little saline. Overall, it’s a lot smokier on the nose than I was expecting, given how peat usually mellows some with age.
The liquid has a silky texture,and it’s here that the smoke mellows out, smoldering rather than billowing up at you. It’s sweet in the main, mild citrus zest mixing with lyshee and jackfruit spiced with cinnamon. The long finish turns peppery, as in raw jalapeno or even habanero spicy.
The thing is though, that although this is a nice sipper of the single malt, it doesn’t “wow” me in the way that some other offerings from Laphroaig do. Given how much I love and what I have come to expect from Laphroaig, this expression is a bit underwhelming and, in my opinion, not worth the price tag. You can get better from them for less.
A 750 ml bottle in the US will run you $750. In the UK, a 70 cl bottle is priced at about £355.