Earlier this year I was in Berlin, and bought a bottle of the Ultimate Laphroaig 1998 at cask strength (reviewed here). This cask was bottled just a few months short of its 14th year. At the end of last year, Dutch bottler van Wees released sister cask 700354 at 46% and my friend Erik Olink sent me a sample of a bottle he cracked open, to compare with my cask strength bottle.
This cask was distilled on September 22nd, 1998 and was bottled November 5th, 2013.
I’ll give you the bottom line already, despite the fact that I don’t think you’ll find it shocking: Cask strength is cask strength, and Laphroaig in sherry butts works really well 🙂
The Ultimate Laphroaig 1998, 15 Years Old, Cask 700354 (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, slow forming thin legs.
Nose: Wet peat, sweet sherry and fresh home baked bread. You’ll also find smoked fish, kippers and a deep maltiness. The sherry gets more pronounced over time in the glass with old bandages coming through with an increased sweetness.
Palate: Dry smoky sweetness on the tongue, with lots of ashes. Some smoky dry apricots (as if you found some dry apricots after a fire), or a smoky apricot fruit roll.
Linger: Tangy on the sides of the tongue, with the “weight” of the linger between the tongue and the inner cheeks. Smoke and sweetness linger on.
This is, as expected, an outstanding whisky.
It’s a Laphroaig through and through, and 46% is just enough to make it work. I would have liked to see this expression at cask strength, but it’s very enjoyable at this presentation as well.