In celebration of Laphroaig’s 200th anniversary, the distillery has released five expressions (and announced the discontinuation of the beloved 18 year old, with no replacement into the core range announced). I compared the old and the new 15 year olds here, the Càirdeas will be reviewed on Laphroaig day 2016 and I have not yet gotten to taste the 16 or the 21 year old.
At the Laphroaig masterclass at the Whisky Show, the 32 year old was the special dram, advertised only as a “mystery bonus dram”. I suspected that fifth whisky would be the 32, and I was right.
The 32 year old is unique in that it was fully matured in Oloroso sherry casks, and is the only official release in the contention for a sherry bomb classification. To the utter horror of the SWA, which is currently persecuting John Glaser’s Compass Box for disclosing the exact makeup of his blends (There might be a post forthcoming on this issue, I’m not sure yet 🙂 ), another John (Campbell) spilled the beans as to the composition of the 32 year old, as follows: 30% is 35 year old first fill Oloroso sherry butts, 20% is 32 year old refill Oloroso sherry butts and 50% of this expression comes from 34 year old Hogsheads.
The whisky is bottled at 46.6%, which is the natural cask strength for this whisky, which is non chill filtered and uncolored. The limited edition holds some 6000 bottles.
Laphroaig 32 Year Old, Limited Edition of 6000 Bottles (46.6% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Deep copper, relatively quick legs and little residue.
Nose: Oat biscuit, subdued peat, the sherry is a bit shy, but if you leave the glass covered for a bit you’ll get hints of vinegar (I can’t decide if it’s balsamic or apple vinegar, though). This is rather cereal-y. Notes of dark fruit, namely raspberries, with a hint of kippers and a little bit of TCP, getting progressively stronger as the dram breathes. It gets progressively more “Laphroaig-y” as it aerates.
Palate: The attack is peaty with cereal, gasoline, ash and sherry sweetness, almost like candy with a hint of the sea. Underlying it is a bitter citrus note.
Linger: Tart dryness with ash, long spicy peat in the back of the throat and a burnt rubber note on the tongue with a long finish.
Unusual for Laphroaig, though ultimately unmistakable. I had the 32 right after the old 30 year old from 1997, and while that expression was far fruitier, the 32 is much more of what we would now think of as Laphroaig, with a lot more of the cereal and iodine/gas station notes in it. What can I say….Good stuff!