Bought: Gauntley’s of Nottingham, 3rd February 2017
87/100 – Whiskybase (average from 11 member votes)
If you’re a fan of YouTube whisky reviews like I am you’ve probably come across Ben Bowers and his ‘A Dram A Day’ channel. Starting in January 2016 he set himself a challenge to post a whisky review every day for a year, all in the aid of charity. Initially he wasn’t sure he’d manage it but he did, even during the birth of his 3rd child. As the 365 days drew to a close, Claxton’s, a Yorkshire-based independent bottler, offered Ben’s cause a limited edition Ardmore with all proceeds going to charity. After watching most of Ben’s videos I thought it would be rude not to get it. Finished in a Laphroaig cask, limited to 299 bottles and at the cask strength of 55.1%, it sounded wonderful. Also I’d never tried Claxton’s before and their square bottles looked very attractive. I do love a good bottle shape!
Fans of the Ardmore ‘Traditional Cask’ will know how well the Highland distillery’s spirit harmonises with peat. Ralfy, a leading YouTube vlogger, once remarked that the ‘Traditional Cask’ was his favourite peated whisky outside of Islay. Praise indeed and something I agree with. So it doesn’t surprise me that after 11 votes on Whiskybase this special dram has got the excellent score of 87/100. One comment (translated from French) said, “peaty but not in a crazy way either. Gentle on the nose. The high title pushes the sensations high enough, but it remains creamy, not so peated eventually. Youth does not appear.”
Since finishing his challenge I’m delighted to see that Ben got a job with Gordon & MacPhail. I’m sure his whisky videos helped boost his CV as well as helping a worthy charity. Congratulations Ben, and thanks Claxton’s for this awesome Ardmore!
Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ with his thoughts about his Ardmore charity bottling (YouTube, January 2017):
Posted in Ardmore
Tagged 55.1%, 70cl, 8yo, A Dram A Day, Ardmore, Ben Bowers, Cask Strength, Charity Bottling, Children's Heart Surgery Fund, Claxton's, Gauntley's, Highland, Highlands, Laphroaig, Single Cask, Single Malt
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 10th January 2017
86.33/100 – Whiskybase (average from 3 member votes)
My auction miniature of the Islay Mist blend is certainly old but whether it’s the version mentioned on Whiskybase from the 1960s is debatable. I chose the rating because it’s the only one listed of seven versions of the 8yo that matches the text on my label saying “a unique blend of SCOTCH WHISKY” as opposed to starting “the unique blend…”
The current version of ‘Islay Mist’ is produced by MacDuff International, a blending company based in Glasgow, Scotland (established in 1992). Prior to this the blend was produced directly from the Laphroaig distillery, which is indicated on the label of my miniature as “D. Johnston & Co. (Laphroaig) Ltd.”. MacDuff International still list Islay Mist on their website as one of their whiskies along with Grand Macnish and Lauders.
MacDuff International say:
“Islay Mist Blended Scotch was originally created on the Scottish island of Islay in 1922 to celebrate the 21st birthday of Lord Margadale. It was thought that the local single malt Scotch, Laphroaig, might be too heavy for all the guests’ taste so this unique blend of Laphroaig with Speyside malts and grain whisky was born.”
Here’s the Scotch Test Dummies with their review of the modern Islay Mist 8yo (January 2017):
Bought: The Whisky Shop, 17th June 2015
94/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
85/100 – Ralfy – His review on You Tube here (April 2012)
87.98/100 – Whiskybase (average from 272 member votes)
94/100 from Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible classifies this single malt from Islay as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. That’s assuming you like throat sweets of course. In his review Mr Murray says of the taste “perhaps it’s the big leg-up from the rampant hickory, but the peat here offers a vague Fisherman’s Friend cough sweet quality far more usually associated with Bowmore, except here it comes in a milder, Demerara-sweetened form with a few strands of liquorice helping that hickory to a gentler level.” He summarises with “this is Laphroaig’s replacement for the woefully inadequate and gutless 15-year-old. And talk about taking a giant step in the right direction. Absolutely brimming with character and panache, from the first molecules escaping the bottle as you pour to the very final ember dying on the middle of your tongue.”
It’s interesting what Jim Murray has to say about the former 15yo because, whatever your opinion of it, bottles can make over £200 at auction. Now that the 18yo has been discontinued you have to wonder what it will be like as an investment. Perhaps bottles will be selling for £300+ in the not-to-distant future.
Watch out for that TCP taste, which is mentioned both on Whiskybase and by Ralfy. Unfortunately so is the presence of added colourant. Ralfy has a rant about this and in summary he says the whisky is “decent but not great”. Nevertheless 85/100 is an excellent mark from him. Nearly 88/100 on Whiskybase is very high with comments of “a strong showing by Laphroaig. I like this one much better than the new (and old) 15yo” and “very smooth and silky. Like it a lot! This is a very elegant expression with a nice strength!”
Bought: Master of Malt, 11th June 2015
86.08/100 – Whiskybase (average from 194 member votes)
I bought this Laphroaig 15yo followed quickly by the 18yo. Both are very collectable. The 15yo is a limited edition of 72,000 bottles and the 18yo has been discontinued. It was after I bought the 18yo that I had my first direct dealings with Laphroaig and their website shop. As a ‘Friend of Laphroaig’ I got sent an email by the distillery on my birthday offering me a discount. How kind! I went and had a look and a cask-strength Laphroaig for £40 caught my eye. I went shopping for other things such as a Glencairn glass before going back to the cask-strength bottle and clicking through to its dedicated page. It was only then that it said “out of stock”. The bottle was given special place on the Home page and appeared on the list of shop whiskies without a word about being out-of-stock. I was annoyed then I remembered it was my birthday so I became angry that Laphroaig had tainted the start of my special day. I then became angry that I was angry! I sent them an email only to be fobbed off with a reply saying they were busy dealing with orders for their 21-year-old bottling and my issue had been sent to their website team.
With so many whisky distilleries out there it helps to be able to rule a few out from time to time. Thank you Laphroaig for removing yourself from my list by ruining the start of my birthday! I had a look on their website for cancelling my “friendship” but there wasn’t any option. If someone would like to start a group called “Enemies of Laphroaig” then count me in! Their whisky is lovely but their website and customer service is seriously lacking. No more Laphroaig for me!
Here is an insightful and interesting review of the Laphroaig 15yo by the German expert Horst Luening:
Bought – Morrisons, 28th October 2014
89/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
79.28/100 – Whiskybase (average from 77 member votes)
Morrisons, bless ’em, caught me again with another tempting reduction on a new line of whisky. So smitten was I that I didn’t look for any reviews of this new, non-age statement release from Laphroaig. Why should I, since Laphroaig are hardly going to be releasing a mix of vinegar and pee onto the market?! Although, there have been rumblings on the whisky malt vine for a while that standards have slipped at the distillery. And some lovers of the classic 10-year-old see this ‘Select’ as an indication that Laphroaig are taking the same road as Macallan. With this is mind, I wasn’t surprised to read some negative reviews of the ‘Select’ on the internet after my purchase.
Thinking I’d bought a dud, I was surprised and delighted when my Whisky Bible 2015 arrived in the post including a score of 89/100 for this new Laphroaig. This classifies it as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth trying”. It’s a shame it’s not 46% and unchillfiltered but I guess we can’t have everything for £26. Thankfully it says on the back of the tube that the Select is “natural colour”.
Falling just short of 80/100 on Whiskybase might not seem brilliant but the members who have left comments are generally very favourable. When this ‘Select’ is at full price it’s not much different from the 10-year-old, but it’s worth a punt if you see it at a discount.
Here’s Frozen Summers on YouTube with their thoughts about the Laphroaig Select (May 2015):
Bought – Morrisons, 13th September 2014
90/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
89/100 – Ralfy – Laphroaig 10yo (Islay Region) – YouTube (May 2013)
What whisky collection would be complete without the Laphroaig 10-year-old?! It’s an Islay classic, which Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible opens his remarks with “impossible not to nose this and think of Islay”. Personally I’ve never been to Islay but, if it smells like the Laphroaig 10yo, you’d only have to take a deep breath to get drunk! Sounds like my sort of place. Mr Murray says about the taste “one of the crispiest, peaty malts of them all” and apparently it’s a favourite of Prince Charles. That fact alone might have made him King of Scotland had independence been declared. That’s assuming Rab C. Nesbitt wasn’t available.
Looking at the scores from Whiskybase and Malt Maniacs, they’re mid to high 80s out of 100, which is excellent. Basically, if you like peated whisky, or want to try a full-on peat experience, the Laphroaig 10yo is the one to go for. It’s in most supermarkets in the UK, and easily available online around the £30-£34 mark. If you like it then next on the Islay shopping list would be the Ardbeg 10yo at around £40-£45.
Bought – Tesco, 24th July 2013
96/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
90/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Laphroaig Quarter Cask – YouTube