Friday, 1 February 2019

Side by side: Laphroaig's 18yo & replacement?

Rather than review drams by themselves I'm doing a little series comparing some 'side by side'.
There may be two or more, they may be from the same or different distilleries, similar ages, ABVs and types or not as I decide!

This time we are reviewing two drams from @Laphroaig, the discontinued 18yo and it's 'replacement' the NAS Lore.

There's a large gap in Laphroaig's age statement line-up, from the 10yo (£36) we jump to the 25yo (£350) and 27yo (£435). There used to be a 15yo (1980s-2009) and 18yo (2009-2016) but they are no more, the Lore was introduced at the same price point as the 18yo offering "different aged liquids ranging from 7 to 21 years".
There is the annual release of the Friends of Laphroaig Cairdeas 15yo (£90) but it's not always available.

DramLaphroaig 18yoLaphroaig Lore
Characteristics48% ABV, Coloured, NCF48% ABV, Natural colour, NCF
Distillery infoThe 18yo is made in limited quantities each year and savoured by a fortunate few. A soft, sweet and spicy Islay peat smoke greets you when you first open the bottle.

The immediate taste is of oak sweetness, from 18 years in the barrel. A faint hint of the sea can be detected, testimony to its time maturing on the remote island of Islay.

Nose: Pipe smoke and toffee, and fruit in the distance .

Palate: The smoke is there, but floral vanilla as well with a full body.

Finish: Long, oily, and smooth with pipe tobacco and spice.
By maturing the liquid in small batches in five unique casks, we create a liquid that is rich, complex, varied and above all storied.

We have created a Laphroaig whisky which uses different aged liquids ranging from 7 to 21 years, allowing us to create the richest possible Laphroaig flavour.

Nose: Rich and smoky with seaside minerals and a hint of ash and bitter chocolate drops.

Palate: Richly peaty with a spicy chilli bite.

Finish: Short, dry finish and a long sweet aftertaste.
My thoughts: 

Lovely artificial yellow gold in the glass, swirls hang around for ages before forming slow fat legs.

Slightly darker gold than the 18yo, interestingly being natural colour! Swirls turn immediately to thin fast legs.
NoseLovely gentle smoke notes like a dying BBQ, some baked apple with a little honey.Similar nose to the 18yo but with the BBQ being on the beach, a salty breeze blowing through. The smoke is slightly more astringent.
PalateSmooth arrival with an immediate smoky shroud, With time it reveals a little apple and pear - exactly as the nose suggests. Slight spicy note at the endWow - this is a completely different dram - smooth honey on arrival, then sweet smoke - but I get that sweet peanut note I dislike.... Spicy notes much more pronounced than the 18yo.
FinishMedium length - warming - lovely smoke notes with a little vanilla.Lots of smoke and peanuts, slightly drying.
OverallThe Lore isn't anything like the 18yo, they are too very different drams which share a couple of smokey similarities. One thing I have found on recent Islay releases is that the peat smoke note comes across as sweet peanuts and it's not nice. Someone suggested that it may just be Islay peat which has this effect on me as peated drams for Speyside, Orkney and the Highlands are fine. It's a little like that sulphur note that some people get with sherry casks. But I'm sure Laphroaig used Islay peat in the 18yo so I'm not so sure.
Overall the 18yo was a lovely dram, a little smoother than the 10yo and not as in your face as the wonderful Quarter Cask but I don't think the Lore measures up at all.
More Laphroaig reviews here and here.

Many thanks to @Mike_LittleHOM for the 18yo sample and @ocdwhisky for the Lore sample!

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