Feis Ile 2018: Laphroaig

Laphroiag peat.jpegYes, I’m still talking Feis Ile 2018, trying to get my reflections posted before the 2019 festival starts in just a few weeks.

In contrast to Caol Ila [blog], on arriving at Laphroaig, all visitors received a glass with lanyard, a non-plastic water bottle [excusing the frustrating cap], and a sample of the festival bottling – spot on!

Whilst waxing lyrical about this particular event, a guy who had attended Feis Ile year after year tells me that Ardbeg showed Laphroaig everything they now know with regards to running a whisky festival. There were indeed similar themes and Laphroaig didn’t disappoint. We even got a tour of the distillery and got to try the wash.


Laphroaig Wash [2018] 8-9%

  • C: The smoke follows through the cloudy sweetish >sour beer. Also, there’s an illusion of copper contact or could that be coming from the mash tun?


Laphroaig Cairdeas Feis Ile 2018 Ob. ‘Fino Cask Finish’ 51.8% WB85.82[328] Blog86

laphroaig cairdeas feis ile 2018 ob. fino cask finish 52.8%

This Feis Ile bottling is around 7-11 years old.

C: I’ve tried this since and really liked it. I was rather less impressed with it on the Open Day, finding it very Laphroaig Select-like in a modern & hollow kind of way. The 10yo CS batch 010 was £60.30. This, £77.

Scores 80 points




Nick peat stack.jpeg

For £15 we received a card that gave us four dram tokens & four games tokens. In the humid Filling Store, the traditional festive games were easy fun and generously rewarded players with extra gifts. Pretty much everyone came away with a coaster or two as well as extra single cask drams, old & rare drams and even a pair of socks.

In addition to the liquid surprises, many won a charity bung to put into one of three charity bins of our choosing. I was encouraged to vote for the Three Distilleries Pathway, a charity project that now links Port Ellen with Laphroaig, Lagavulin & Ardbeg distilleries. This new path is vital to improving the experience of & insure the safety of festival goers, distillery visitors, cyclists and hikers for example, all year round. Apparently the project has [so far] cost around £800,000, with Beam Suntory [Laphroaig] contributing only £25000. Apparently Ardbeg contributed the most with an undisclosed amount.

Laphroaig 2005-2013-2018 Un-Ob. re VAT Quarter cask #107 55%

I don’t remember exactly what this one was all about. It might have been a 7-8yo bourbon barrel Laphroaig, vatted with Laphroaig Quarter Cask juice from 2013 [until 2018 I’m guessing]. Probably got that all wrong but here’s how it tasted:

Laphroaig 2005 :2013 re VAT Quarter cask 107 55%.jpeg

  • N: Youthful bourbon cask action and something of a metal yard, a coal yard & a timber yard is all I managed to note. 
  • T: A beefy, bourbon-y, dirty, char-y quarter cask-character malt. The balance is right though it’s a sweet one.
  • F: Becomes ashy, soon fading.
  • C: Did Laphroaig generally get sweeter over the last decade or more? Notably, Jim Beam ownership was realised in 2005 [SW].

Scores 84 points


Laphroaig 2002/2014 12yo Ob. Hand-filled bourbon cask #6930 57% [25cl] WB88.57[9]

Laphroaig 2002:2014 12yo Ob. Hand-filled bourbon cask #6930 57% [25cl].jpg

  • N: Fruity dirty smokey character, a floral mechanics yards, delicate violet,… 
  • T: Char-y cask action, violets again, Polytar.
  • F: Honeyed/floral bourbon smoke and burned corn.
  • C: Solid,… and if there’s any juice still swishing around in that cask, another 5-6 years in there could make things interesting.

Scores 88 points


We make our way to the old & rare stall.

Laphroaig 1994 Ob. Highgrove bottling 43% WB88.29[9] WF90

This Highgrove bottling is around 12 years of age.

Laphroaig 1994 (12yo) Ob. Highgrove bottling 43%.jpg

  • N: We have a very accessible, fruity, winey & malty nose with big promise.
  • T: Sugary soon weakening, settling into a milky sugary direction with Farley’s rusks, un-brewed sugary tea,.. that kind of thing. The only major issue here is either that this is from a fairly faded old cask or a tired individual bottle.
  • F: Finishes like an old vintage, creaking at the seams with its bitter wood and dusty sugars.
  • C: We’ve struck ‘old & rare’ certainly. I reckon on another day from a different bottle, this could be a 90 pointer.

[Today, whisky from this bottle] scores 87 points.


Laphroaig 25yo [2015] Ob. CS Edition 46.8% WB89.81[123] WF90

And to think, I’ve only tried any Laphroaig 25yo only once before.

Laphroaig 25yo [2015] Ob. CS Edition 46.8%.jpeg

  • N: Sweet consolidated thick sweet creamy juice, [more] very subtle violets, plum jam and other fruit compotes,… but in a nutshell we’ve a dunnage wonder with minimal smoke, softened, combined & entwined by those years in oak.
  • T: There you go! Put decent juice into decent [bourbon] casks and wait! The world only needs so many bells n whistles PX/oloroso syrup-matured/finished [Feis Ile] bottlings. More of these dunnage-y one’s with grassy green Earl Grey/Darjeeling tea notes please!
  • F: Sweet ashtray. nuff said. Permeating smoke wafts whispers, from refills I’d imagine.
  • C: Really good, though I don’t desire a full bottle at current price levels.

Scores 87 points


Laphroaig 10yo Ob. Original CS Red Stripe 55.7% WB89.78[466] [WF1]NN:93 WF289[’06] WF392[’07] [WF]92

Serge: “Did you know that a typical batch at Laphroaig gathers 250 barrels.”

Laphroaig CS 10yo Ob. Original release Red Stripe 55.7%.jpeg

  • N: Malty oaky tropical sugars, light consolidated smoke, herbal action,…. oh this could be a cracker!
  • T: The nose comes through on the palate too with papaya, melon, [Bowmore-esque] violets [again] and a touch of totally integrated oily TCP, all topped off with some OBE magic. Wow! 
  • F: Fruity & oaky with only hints of smoke in comparison to today’s other Laphroaig’s. Long witch hazel plaster finish, sloe gin, ashy at the death.
  • C: I’m told batch 001 is even better! We shall try that next. This is up there with the best Laphroaig I’ve had. The kind of whisky I could drown myself in.

Scores 92 points


Laphroaig 10yo (2009) Ob. CS Batch 001 57.8% WB89.15[249] [WF88] & WF89

At the bar we were able to acquire [at some expense], batches 1 & 2 for comparison against the Red Stripe. This is one fine Open Day.

Laphroaig 10yo (2009) Ob. CS Batch 001 57.8%.jpeg

  • N: “Hello, is there anything there?” From the original batch to batch 001, we have skipped a generation and entered a more mechanised & standardised world. Here the cask talks as does its previous contents. I note fruity, mineral & curried notes, leather and beeswax. The peat smoke is very discrete, no big bonfire action here.
  • T: A dunnage-ish honeyed & malty whisky with some fruity action. It’s slightly more medicinal neat and with more complexity.
  • F: Drying, but this isn’t hollow. There’s body & chew, balance with varied complexity.
  • C: Resolute, firm and tasty if a tad predictable after the original Red Stripe. A more modern-classic Laphroaig then.

Scores 88 points


Laphroaig 10yo Ob. CS Batch 002 58.3% WB88.73[231] WF90

Laphroaig 10yo Ob. CS Batch 002 58.3%.jpeg

  • N: Clearly more ‘modern’ than the original batch, being a more mineral, herbal & sherry-ish nose with sweet dry fruity shoe polish and sweet putty. Becomes pretty decent when given the time.
  • T: The abv strength hits as does the smoke. Soon the medicinal< malty fruits begin to sing. Develops fresh & natural, becoming fruity & malty medicinal with water. And then the barley sings,.. turning more milky. 
  • F: Stays peat fresh.
  • C: Better than batch #001 by a whisker.

Scores 89 points


A very good day indeed. Where next? Bowmore!





Laphroaig pond



6 thoughts on “Feis Ile 2018: Laphroaig

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