In his Christmas 2008 video blog [available on the Laphroaig web site], John Campbell (Laphroaig distillery manager) talked about a change in the Laphroaig 10 years Cask Strength offering, starting in 2009. Apparently, it’s been standard practice for Laphroaig to produce the 10 CS in two batches each year, but it’s been difficult to have each batch produced at the same strength. Starting with their first 2009 batch in February, they’ve decided to start distributing each batch as its own unique release, with the batch number on the label, and the strength varying per batch (between around 54% and 58%). The Feb ’09 release (# 001) is at 57.8%.
This batch approach seems to be gaining in popularity, as it entices whisky connoisseurs into buying multiple batches to compare (you can see this with Aberlour a’bunadh). Apparently, Laphroaig was showing off batch 001 at Feis Ile 2009, and Luc Timmermans was able to secure a bottle and make 30 ml samples available through whiskysamples.eu. This is how I got the sample I’m writing about now.
On the nose, I’m immediately hit with a medicinal scent that quickly turns to a woodiness and smoke. The wood smell is quite strong, which i also noticed with the Quarter Cask expression. I may be simplifying a combination of other smells, but it smells like cedar wood. There’s peat, but it’s coming out mainly in the form of iodine and some tar. It’s not an earthy peat like with Talisker. I get just a hint of sweetness, and maybe a little apple. It’s very muted compared to the Laphroaig 15 year, buried under the stronger scents. I do get an increasingly strong vanilla scent as I spend more time with it. I added a little water and the vanilla and honey sweetness became much more noticeable right up front.
On the palate, I can now tell that this is a cask strength bottling. Definitely some high ABV heat, but also continued strong wood and peat, with some sweetness. I suppose there’s some pepper there, but it’s not that strong. The finish lasts a while, and it’s a great combination of most of the flavors from the nose, but with a much more noticeable tar component, and a lot more smoke. With water, the alcohol heat goes away on the palate, and the pepper seems to come out more. This is a much more complex, satisfying palate and finish than on the standard 10 year bottling.
Wow, this one caught me by surprise! I mean, I’ve read that this is different from the standard 10, but I didn’t expect it to be this much of an improvement. I wish I had a bottle of Quarter Cask on hand, as this reminds me quite a bit of that one based on memory…especially the enhanced woodiness. If I were rating these, and the Laphroaig 15 was a 90, with the standard 10 being an 83/84, I think I’d have to put this one right up around 89/90. I’d want to drink a little more than the 30 ml sample that I had to be more confident about it. One thing I can say with certainty…I’d like to have a bottle of Laphroaig 10 CS as a standard option in my whisky cupboard. Highly recommended if you like the Islay malts.
- Batch 001
- WHISKYFUN.COM by Serge – The Lindores guys report on the 10 CS Batch 001 from Feis Ile and recommend adding water. They give it an average rating of 88/100.
- The Whisky Exchange Blog (co-written with caskstrength.net) – In their Day 7 Feis Ile festival report, the TWE/Caskstrength team reports on Batch 001 and says it’s sweeter on the nose and sootier on the palate than the original CS.
- KingFisher Blog – A bunch of Laphroaigs tasted and rated, including 10 CS Batch 001.
- Original CS
- Malt Advocate – Use “Search by Brand Name” to bring up an archive of Laphroaig reviews. There’s an “Original Cask” bottling at the top of the list from 2002. Look further down to find the 2004 “Original Cask Strength” bottling, with a rating of 88 points.
- WHISKYFUN.COM – A review of the Original Cask Strength, bottled in 2007, with a huge 92 rating…reminds him of the older “green stripe” version if you’re familiar with that.
- WhiskyNotes – Ruben calls this a “must have for every Islay enthusiast. He has a sample of Batch 001…hopefully he’ll provide some comparison notes soon.
- Whisky For Everyone – Discusses both the standard 10 year and the 10 CS.
- Wine Library TV Ep. #509 (The Single Malt Scotch Episode) – Matt Mullenweg joins Gary Vaynerchuk, and they drink the 10 CS, along with Talisker 175th and The Balvenie 17.