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Friday, 11 July 2014

Laphroaig PX Whisky Review

My last review of a Laphroaig Single Malt, the Triple Wood, was a little disappointing, so I thought I would make up for it with a review of my current favourite Laphroaig. OK, I admit it, it has been my favourite for quite a while.

One of a range of three 'travel-retail exclusive' (can only be purchased from duty free stores) whiskies, all of which are non-age statement (NAS) bottlings, it may have started as a bit of an experiment, and the other versions (QA, for Quercus Alba, or American oak, and An Cuan Mor, or 'big ocean') are not as popular, although I haven't yet tried them myself. The travel-retail thing also means they come in 1-litre bottles (bonus!), and they can now be found in some online whisky shops as well as duty free stores.

Believe me though, age statement or no, if it was an experiment, it was very, very successful. 
Laphroaig PX Cask, NAS, 48%, Islay, Scotland.
'Third maturation' in PX (Pedro Ximenez sherry) casks. The first two being Bourbon cask and Quarter cask respectively. Unfortunately the label & tin do not mention whether it is chill filtered or not, or whether or not it has had caramel colouring added. I don't believe it to be chill filtered, based on the mouth feel and finish, and if there has been caramel added, I would say it was more for consistency rather than intentional modification.

(tasted neat)
Colour: Deep gold.

Texture: Oily in the glass, but surprisingly clean in the mouth.

Nose: Lovely! Instantly recognisable as Laphroaig whisky, with medicinal peat, some Iodine, and lovely salty sea spray. Very little smoke on the nose, perhaps lightly smoked straw. Significant sweetness, and a hint of mature, rich sherry. 

Taste: Even more lovely! The oaky sweetness and medicinal peat balance each other quite nicely, then a hint of rich sherry and wood spice, some salt and sea spray, and a very nice handful of ash, (even cigarette ash), which beats back the sweetness, and dries the mouth. Well balanced but the sweetness wins the fight, but only by split decision! The ash may not sound very appealing, but it is not overpowering, and believe me, it is awesome. It helps this whisky really stand out in the crowd. 

Finish: Long, sweet, peaty and salty. Delicious. Again the sweet oak and sherry is balanced by the peat, salt and ash. There is some smokey vanilla and marzipan right at the end, after the ash has cleared and left you longing for more.  

Score: 4.5 out of 5. 

Comments: As you may have guessed, this whisky (and all Laphroaig whiskies which undergo a 'third maturation' start this way) is essentially Laphroaig quarter cask, which has then been finished in PX sherry casks. The Triple Wood is matured the same way, but is finished in Oloroso sherry casks, and has not worked anywhere near as well as the PX cask whisky. 

This truly is excellent stuff, that sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry finish has added just enough fruit & spice to balance the oak and smoke. If the sweetness was just a tad more subdued, and it stated on the label if it was chill filtered, it likely would have scored even higher! Definitely my favourite Laphroaig so far, followed closely by Quarter Cask and 18 year old.

I strongly recommend doing your utmost to get a hold of this stuff, so if you know anybody who is travelling soon, see if they'll get you a bottle, or, what better reason is there to take a holiday? 

Cheers!