Oct 7, 2011

sweet peaty dreams...

Laphroaig Triple Wood (48.0%): Triple Wood might be my favorite expression in the Laphroaig line after Laphroaig 18. When the distillery announced launching their duty free only expression Triple Wood to the home market this August they made a lot of people very happy including myself. I was pretty lucky to be able to benefit traveling abroad frequently and was owning a bottle already but never could drink it recklessly without worrying about when my next trip will be. Now I can have a decent pour, sit down and enjoy it. Basically it is the standard Quarter Cask which I like a lot transferred to European oak Oloroso sherry casks for a final maturation. Color: Bright copper, flower honey. Nose: So here we go... My favorite thing in the world: nosing a good Islay whisky. Sweet creamy meringue pie and raisin nut mix. Overripe apples, sea spray. Damp wood and extinguished bonfire at the beach. A few drops of water bring more iodine notes like band-aid, latex gloves and tincture of iodine. Palate: Beautiful velvety texture. Salty first, sweet after. Peat is much more present than the nose. Vanilla, dried apricot and figs, creme caramel. After adding water I got some charcoal, dried vegetation like chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus and bay leaves. Finish: Dark roasted bitter cacao nibs, ash. Lingering black pepper and paprika. Long and very sweet. Overall: This is definitely a delicious but confusing dram. I can understand why some hardcore Laphroaig fans wasn't very excited about it. It takes Laphroaig to a very different place. I am a fan and I think it is a great addition to the range. I still cannot believe how sweet the overall taste is though...

Ardbeg Alligator (51.2%): Actually I tasted Alligator for the third time last Sunday at a tasting hosted by Dr. Bill Lumsden and David Blackmore in NYC. For some reason it took me some time to build a relationship with it since I first tasted it but finally I feel like writing about it. Alligator is one of Dr. Bill Lumsden's limited releases we got used to expect from Ardbeg almost every year. Standard 10 years old Ardbeg aged in ex-bourbon cask is married with whisky aged in heaviest possible charred barrels called Alligator barrels and matured further for a final treatment after the vatting. Color: Very light straw. Nose: This is a creamy Ardbeg dessert. Vanilla beans, key lime pie and lemon custard are the first notes. Sweet spices, powdered ginger and star anise follow. Adding water amplifies sweet barbecue, burnt pork fat and bacon aromas. Palate: Unbelievable how dominant vanilla is on the palate. Vibrant young whisky in the vat shows up which reminded me Ardbeg "Almost There" a little bit; grassy and medicinal. Burnt tarts, quince jam and grapefruit gratin. Finish: Pretty dry, muscular and long. All spice, cloves and cinnamon. Overall: To be honest I wasn't blown away for the first time I tasted like I was with Corrywreckan or Uigeadail a few years ago but it grew on me little by little every time I tasted. I am still struggling to justify it's price tag though... It's a tasty dram, no doubt about it but so damn pricy compared to other Ardbeg expressions. If you are adventurous enough to purchase a bottle I strongly recommend to take your time with it. This dram requires patience and attention. The more time you spend the more layers and complexity you will discover.