9 November 2010

Laphroaig 1999 "An Irresistible Indie"

Whilst sampling a range of this year’s independent bottling releases, I stumbled across a particularly fine drop of drammage from Royal Mile Whiskies, in the form of their 1999 Laphroaig (Cask 4199).

Limited to just 291 bottles, this cask strength dramming ditty has all the medicinal, biscuity, fruity and coastal delights that are synonymous with a Laphroaig, but with a few added depths and a touch of va va voom.

Despite being bottled at 54.9%, it does actually have a refined air to both its nose and palate compared to the standard 10 year old distillery release. It’s also very slightly reminiscent to a Japanese peated whisky that I was fortunate enough to sample recently, with its precision layers of depth and balance.

The nose kicks off with subtle yet confident waves of sweet medicinal smoke, wet modelling clay and a hint of witch hazel, followed by back notes of toasted walnuts and burning rubber.

A bowl of breakfast oats and a bag of spelt bread flour make for the next set of sensations, along with a warming mug of ‘Horlicks’ and a couple of accompanying over salted and over baked digestive biscuits.

Gutsy gusts of pine freshness then creep and linger into the proceedings, along with the subtle wallowing essence of maple wood infused vanilla.

A fruit-opian burst of lime citrus, unripened bananas and baked apples then take centre stage, along with an infusion of grass, peppery rocket and a mound of freshly chopped parsley.

The palate which has a merlot-esque chalky edge to it, kicks off with a fresh clean lemony zing undercoat, followed by an overcoat of ash from an autumn bonfire.

A warm pear and apple crumble topped with an abundance of toasted oats and covered in a lashette of custard makes for the next set of sensations, along with a big wedge of granary toast covered in some zingy yet sweet spiced lime marmalade.

There’s a very subtle suggestion of honey but that’s soon banished and put on the back burner by the arrival of some sassily sweet oak infused vanilla and more of that pine freshness, along with another mound of chopped parsley.

This is a dramtabulous example of an independently bottled Laphroiag, though you need to be patient with it as it’s in no hurry to give up its wares. Once it’s been in the glass for a good ten minutes or so, it then evolves into a deeply balanced, ballsy dramming delight.