The first one is the 29 from the May outturn (29.164 is missing in action, relegated to bar only or who knows when it’ll turn up in an outturn), and at 19 years old is big news for a society Laphroaig right now! The second is from about a year ago, when we were altogether more blasé about Laphs coming out every month and is a 23 year old – just off my shelf.
SMWS 29.162, Laphroaig, Surreal meal deal (on Islay), 19 years old, 56.1%, A⊕
4th April 1995, refill bourbon, 209 bottles. I really wanted to post this while the whisky was still available, but sadly it sold out about 4pm yesterday.
Nose - Gentle cereal and Germolene, sharp mineral, crab apple jelly and raw gammon. Tonic water, Ryvita with butter, white pepper and white wine vinegar. All very bright and backed by sweet dust (popping candy?). With water, slightly funkier, and big, high quality cask (you know what I mean).
Body - Sharp lemon, pepper and mature cereal. Actually quite enormous with deep orange toffee and a touch of rosemary.
Finish - Long, substantial and mouth filling, like eating peated porridge (in a good way). Lingering peated tobacco (now that's something that really should exist). Preserved lemons and bong water (again, in a good way!).
What's not good about it - A little esoteric perhaps? It'd be confusing if I was more easily confused. Lacking some midrange too, although that's only because the bass and treble are turned up so high.
What's good about it - This is the kind of single cask that only the most competent distilleries on the world's greatest, tiny, distillery infested islands can knock out without batting an eyelid. Weird, compelling, vibrant and perplexing. Get some!
SMWS 29.152, Laphroaig, Chapter and Verse, 23 years old, 49.8% A+
12th October 1990, refill bourbon, 206 bottles.
Nose - Sweet, white and hot. Unripe apple, candy whistles, Sauternes and fresh bay leaf. Slightly offputting youth in the cereal though, sour and tannic, and a touch of bandage. Blatantly Laphroaig, wounds and all.
Body - Much gentler. Peat, yes, tannins, yes, ruby grapefruit juice too. A bitter glugger, young cereal, juice and peat bringing you back for more. Fruitier with water, and even more Laph. Lovely.
Finish - Long and constant, toast and honey with peated barley and lemon curd.
What's not good about it - tastes younger than it is (you'd be pissed off if you spent the £300 this would cost you from the distillery). Not the most complex.
What's good about it - Good fruit, good peat and confident. You know where you stand with this one.