SMWS 29.251 (Laphroaig) & Berry Bros & Rudd Williamson Cask #05093


Back to Islay for the end of the week as we look at a couple of independently bottled Laphroaig’s.

SMWS 29.251 (Laphroaig)

Region: Islay

ABV: 62.7%

Price: £60.00

This is a 6yo Laphroaig that spent its life maturing in a 2nd fill bourbon barrel. The outturn was 230 bottles.

Nose

Initially we’re getting a sweet hit of vanilla fudge, along with a big hit of alcohol, some cinnamon and cloves. There’s less smoke here than expected given the age. Going back to it after some air we can detect iodine, seaweed, and tar. There is a hint of ethanol / malt in the background, but that’s unsurprising given the whopping ABV of this.

Palate

Initially on the palate there’s a big alcohol punch followed by the sweeter notes. The sweetness shows as vanilla, toffee and white sugar. The smoke comes next showing as ash coated smoked fruits. There’s black pepper / alcohol tingle on a long finish. This has a good mouthfeel, and is exactly what you want from a young Laphroaig. Our only issue is it’s a touch hot for us.

Nose (with water)

A splash of water has really opened this up. We’d describe it like stepping into a candy shop that’s just burnt down. The ethanol is still there on the nose but has been reduced to near extinction by water. There’s also some floral influences appearing on the nose along with some TCP, and roasted hazelnuts.

Palate (with water)

Similarly to the reduced nose the palate is now much sweeter, like we splashed sugar syrup in the glass. The alcohol heat has been dampened to something much more manageable. You do lose a little of the peat, but it’s a good trade off. The mouthfeel is still good, and some of the floral notes from the nose have also started to appear on the palate.

Conclusion

A touch of water opens this right up into something pretty tasty it’s not our favourite young Laphroaig from the society, but it is a tasty dram for any peat lover. If you were lucky enough to get a bottle open it at £60 it was a steal.

Score: 8/10


Berry Bros & Rudd Williamson Cask #05093

Region: Islay

ABV: 62.3%

Price: £80.00 

This release of Williamson from BBR was finished in an Oloroso butt, and bottled in 2021 at 7 years old. 492 bottles were made available, some of which are still available for any reader living in the EU.

Nose

The nose on this is a real monster, but in the best way possible. We’re getting bacon drizzled in brown sugar, warm melted butter, pistachio nuts, log burning fire, and sweet sugar syrup. Give it a bit of time to breathe and you’ll find more of the smoke comes out. There’s also a hint of cloves, some cherries and a little iodine that come along with it.

Palate

The first thing that hits us is the sweeter notes. It’s like eating a Werthers Original toffee, with some peaches. The smoke is next and shows as tobacco and burnt / grilled red fruits. Going back to we notice there’s also a touch of rice cakes throughout. It’s got a good mouthfeel and finish. We’re finding there’s some savouriness appearing on the mid palate that’s and lingering with sweeter notes before leaving the smoke at the end. It’s impressively balanced and doesn’t taste its ABV.

Nose (with water)

The addition of water pushes the burnt smoke notes come to the fore. It’s like we’re holding a smouldering match to our noses. It’s also gained a little treacle and Christmas cake. Along with it there also burnt oak, and more of a savoury meatiness to it now. Water has really opened this up.

Palate (with water)

Like the nose, the dram benefits from the addition of water. We’re still getting the sweeter notes above but now there’s more vanilla from the original cask maturation. Its a still a very smokey / peaty dram, and we’re getting a touch of seaweed now that wasn’t there before. The alcohol bite is slightly reduced. Not that it really needed it. There’s also little more ash on the finish.

Conclusion

This is an outstanding dram that has a great balance between the sweet notes and the peat. While we would suggest adding water we’d drink this quite happily with or without. One of the best young Laphroaig’s we’ve had it a long time. It’s an easy 9/10.

Score: 9/10

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

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