Laphroaig 1998 21 year old

Posted 11 March 2020 by Matt / In Laphroaig
The Dramble reviews Laphroaig 1998 21 year old The Whisky Exchange

Bottle Name: Laphroaig 1998 21 year old

ABV: 54.4%
Distillery: Laphroaig
Bottler: The Whisky Exchange
Region: Islay Age: 21

A sherry finished Laphroaig which will surely fly off the shelves. Distilled in 1998 and presumably matured in ex-bourbon until 2010, when the liquid was re-racked into a sherry hogshead for nine years of additional maturation. That’s not messing around. 322 bottles were extracted from cask #117. They’re offered at 54.4% ABV and at £399 each from The Whisky Exchange.

Nose: Highly communicative and continually expanding in breadth once in the glass. Balsamic-infused chocolate is poured over reduced berries – raspberry, blackberry – and plums, whilst brisket, roasted ham and meat jus are joined by fireplace embers, burnt parchment paper and swipe of medicinal cleaner and roofing tar. Brown sugar provides additional sweetness, whilst fruit-packed cake epitomises a sense of richness which runs through. Dilution reinforces meatiness with a herb-crusted beef joint, alongside dusty cellars, bund cloth and freshly tanned leather aprons.

Taste: Highly welcoming on the arrival with anise-spiced fruit compote (blackcurrants, cherries and raspberries) and orange liqueurs. Boot polish and coal dust morph into floor cleaner and iodine, before being joined by chocolate sponge, salted caramel and muscovado sugar. The back-palate offers gentle pepperiness alongside freshening mint leaf. The addition of water presents a greater fruit focus with a combination of orchard and stone fruits served alongside balsamic, mineral dust and dry earthiness.

Finish: Medium to long with moist soils and cellars sitting with TCP, jammy fruits, rosehips and mintiness.

A lesson in judgment. Perfectly aged spirit combined with two excellent casks – and a finishing length which is right on the money. It’s not all that common to find a Laphroaig where the underlying fruitiness of the distillate is both given room to breathe, as well as being actively enhanced by the transformative effects of re-racking. But that’s what we have here. Elegant, nuanced, interesting and above all delicious. The big score is well deserved.

Score: 92/100


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