Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review - Laphroaig Lore

Laphroaig Lore is the latest limited edition release from the famous Islay distillery. Lore, which translates as 'speech' or 'story' from the Islay form of Gaelic, is a mix of different ages and styles of Laphroaig. It is a marriage of different malts - the first matured in quarter casks and finished in European oak hogsheads, another matured in first fill ex-sherry butts and some matured in ex-Laphroaig casks. Lore is described as 'the richest ever Laphroaig' by Distillery Manager John Campbell, who co-ordinated the selection of the casks included.  The intention is to release a batch of Lore annually going forwards.

Laphroaig (pronounced la-froyg) is one of the most highly renowned whisky brands in the world and it is the biggest selling single malt in the smoky/peaty style. The name translates from the Gaelic as 'beautiful hollow by the broad bay' and the distillery is located on the southern coast of Islay, about two miles east of the village of Port Ellen. The distillery was founded by two brothers, Alexander and Donald Johnson, in 1815 and is currently under the ownership of Beam Suntory. Laphroaig has an annual production capacity of 2.9 million litres and celebrated its 200th anniversary last year.

Initially Lore was released to Friends of Laphroaig members in March (please note - this allocation has already sold out) and will appear in various other markets globally shortly. This batch has been bottled at 48% ABV and has gone through a simple barrier filtering process. Details of numbers have not been released and the price is £85 per bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is pungent and full of acrid bonfire smoke aromas.  This is complimented by sweeter notes of honey, malted barley, oat cookies and a hint of tropical fruit (think of pineapple especially).  Further subtle notes also come through - candlewax, damp moss, green chilli and candied lemons.

On the palate this whisky is immediately crisp, fresh and peaty.  The peatiness has the acrid bonfire edge as demonstrated on the nose, plus hints of surgical bandage and creosote.  With time, this smoke seems to become more ashy.  Other initial notes include a lovely hit of salted caramel, fresh cookie dough, some crisp green apple and developing malted cereals - this note in particular adds a delicious bittersweetness.  The combination is very good and is accentuated by further notes of honey, juicy fresh mango and candied citrus (a dash of orange as well as lemon now).  Hints of dried pineapple, treacle, cinnamon, lavender and star anise round things off nicely.

The finish is initially very sweet, long and smoky with a pleasant warmth to it.  The honey-like sweetness and tropical style fruitiness slowly fade to give more prominence to the bonfire peat smoke.  This gets less acrid with time and a little more earthy, as it lingers and smoulders against the taste buds.

What's the verdict?
Laphroaig have done very well with this new Lore expression. So often with peaty whiskies the smoke can over power most elements but here the smokiness compliments and accentuates the other characteristics very nicely.  The balance of notes is superb and makes for a pleasant drinking experience.  The smokiness is always there with Laphroaig, and it is well known for that, but seems a little more reserved in Lore.  It is a delicious and complex whisky.

We are very glad that we purchased a bottle, especially having now tasted the quality, and look forward to Batch 2 already.  It is a shame that we will have to wait at least a year ...

1 comment:

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