Laphroaig Quarter Cask Review

“I Kinda Like This Laphroaig”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Islay
Brand: Laphroaig Quarter Cask
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 48 %

Colour: Golden (Contains E-150 Caramel)

Nose: Medicinal Peat, White Smoke, Iodine, Band Aid, Salted Butter, Sweet Barley, Brine, Soot, Ashes, Wet Stone, Dirty Earth, Charred Oak, light Rubber, light Leather and Shell Fish on the BBQ. All the typical Laphroaig characteristics are there but they are Mellow in a way, quite different from the nice but much more aggressive Aromas of the 10 Years for instance. That's interesting as the Quarter Cask is much younger than the 10 Years. The Quarter Cask Finish does make a difference! Besides the already mentioned, I also find Heather Honey, Toffee, Nuts, Lemon Zest, Apple Juice and an odd Cheese note. The Alcohol is there but it doesn't disturb the Nosing of the Quarter Cask. 

Palate: The Youth of the Quarter Cask is more clear on the Palate. I find Sweet Peat, Smoke, Charred Oak, TCP, Ashes, Brine, Salted Butter, Smoked Mackerel, (Shell) Fish on the BBQ, Sweet Barley, Apple, Toffee, Vanilla, Alcohol, light Rubber and Pepper.

Finish: Medium Long and Dry with Dirty Earth and Smoke, Cigar Ashes, Peated Grist, Charred Oak, Salted Butter, Sea Water, Pepper, Nutmeg, Alcohol, Raw Meat and (Shell) Fish.

Despite the high ABV, the Quarter Cask does not accept Water very well. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21

General Remarks. Laphroaig is located 2 miles east of Port Ellen on the isle of Islay, close to Ardbeg and Lagavulin. It was founded in 1810 by two brothers, Alexander and Donald Johnston and received its license in 1815. Nowadays it is owned by Beam Inc. It's one of the few remaining distilleries with its own Maltings, accounting for around 15% of their total needs. The rest comes from the Port Ellen Malting Facility and/or the Scottish mainland.

The Quarter Cask was released in 2004 and is Double-Cask Matured, first in the usual Ex-Bourbon barrels for around 5 years before being transferred to the specially recreated Quarter Casks of old days for a second maturation of some months in the famous Laphroaig # 1 Warehouse, right on the shore front. The smaller Casks give an up to 60% larger contact between Wood and Spirit when compared to the larger Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks and therefore allow a shorter total maturation period. The Quarter Cask is Barrier Filtered only and bottled with an ABV of 48%. It costs around 60 US Dollars (June 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good 

Conclusion: Until the arrival of the Quarter Cask, you either loved or hated the Single Malts from Laphroaig. Because they stood out. I think the Quarter Cask will divide the opinions in a different way. There will be people who kinda like it and there will be others who kinda hate it. Because it's not as fiery and strong as the 10 years and not as mellow and mature as for example the 18 Years or the old 15 Years. But it' still a Laphroaig! So I'm sure there's a good market for the Quarter Cask, especially since it's reasonably priced as well. As for me, I find it a pity that so much Single Malts today are seemingly developed to please the broad general public. In my opinion Blends were invented just for this cause and they represent over 90% of the total Whisky consumption. Single Malts should try to maintain their original characteristics that made them stand out in the first place. Don't get me wrong, the Quarter Cask is not a bad Single Malt. And I like the fact it's Non Chill-Filtered and bottled at a good 48%. But just imagine the horror if in 10 Years or so people might say: Ah Laphroaig yes, I kinda like that whisky!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    June 6, 2015

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