Matt and I had the opportunity to try the Laphroaig Select yesterday at the whisky weekender festival. This is what we thought of the new expression.
Some background – Matt and I are huge Laphroaig fans! It’s probably the first expression that opened my eyes to the world of whisky and I’ve loved it ever since. So much in fact that as part of our trip to Islay last year, we planned from the outset to attend the Laphroaig ‘Water to Whisky’ tour, their best and most expensive tour, as the highlight of the trip. (It was fantastic btw!)
So seeing that there was a vertical tasting with a new expression being launched, we immediately added that to our day at the Whisky Weekender festival. What was it going to be? A new unique finish, perhaps a little more sherry? Ideally I was hoping for something a bit special that would sit in the QC/TW/18 bracket.
Unfortunately not. The dram we got to try was the new Select. It’s been created using “Olorosso sherry butts, straight American white oak (non-filled with bourbon), PX seasoned hogs heads, Quarter Casks and finally of course First Filled Bourbon Casks”. So real mix to this one to say the least!
Thoughts on the expression
My overall memory of this dram was the youth. It was very sweet, malty and had a menthol finish similar to what I’ve found in other young expression. Matt put it best, describing it as a ‘Peaty Puni Alba’ – a lovely spirit from Italy, but less that three years old in maturation. The Select is without doubt a Laphroaig, it has the same iodine, peatiness – but the malty sweetness just doesn’t work. It’s like ordering salted popcorn in a cinema, and the finding the single sweet kernel in the pack that just shocks your taste buds. ‘I didn’t order that, I don’t want that in my popcorn!’. Of course, it may not be a young whisky for all I know, as it’s another NAS. It may be that the virgin oak has caused this, which would be even more of a shame.
At £35, I can’t see where this is supposed to sit with the family. I can’t understand why anyone would buy this over the 10, or spend a littlemore on the QC. Maybe it would be good to provide a gateway into Laphroaig, but in my opinion that’s not what the brand is about. It is in your face, peat, iodine, smoke – you either love it or hate it.
Laphroaig make a point in the marketing that they asked their ‘Friends of Laphroaig’ fan base for help in the creation of this expression. If this is what the Laphroaig devotees are asking for, it makes me wondering if I really am one as well.
Just to end of a positive. Even though I’ve tried all the expressions before (except the new ‘Select’ of course), the vertical tasting was a very enjoyable class and I would like to thank the host for putting up with us, and The Whisky Lounge for organising the day. As always Matt and I were split between the 18 and TW (my choice being the latter). One day we’ll sort this out.