Age and oak have brilliantly enriched the deep nuances of a beloved classic Islay single malt. As Laphroaig is celebrating its 202nd birthday this year, the venerable Islay distillery is re-inventing tradition. The team, led by distillery manager John Campbell, has been experimenting tirelessly with aging its distinctively peaty whisky. In addition to PX sherry hogsheads and virgin American oak, they have turned to triple maturation and quarter-size casks, and managed to produce a range of 11 core whiskies, along with a few limited-edition expressions. And they are a taste to behold.
Now, whiskey will no longer be judged on the sole basis of how long it has spent in the barrel. With the exception of Laphroaig’s flagship 10-year-old bottling and a hard-to-find 25 year old, the new range is entirely NAS (no age statement). This is an indicator that at least some of the blend is younger than the other whiskies included. With more and more NAS single malts being released—many of which still fall under the category of high-quality whiskies. But a significant age is something that is hard to replicate.
The newly released Laphroaig 27 Year Old is priced at $750 per bottle. It was matured in a combination of refill hogsheads, ex-bourbon casks, and refill quarter casks—and bottled at a tame 83.4 proof. The result is a rich, deep, multi-layered flavour that stands out from the vast majority of younger malts. Time tends to soften a peated whisky but the flavour remains unaltered. The smoke and peat are still present, along with a classic undernote and salty-sea-air finish. But it’s achieved a gentler and rounder texture than a typical Laphroaig, with sweet honey and hints of citrus costarring in the production.