Tag Archives: Laphroaig

A Wee Dram… Laphroaig An Cuan Mòr

So a few days ago I’m at my regular dramming buddy, Richard’s, place for a chat and a drink. While there, Richard’s wife, who is on her way home after visiting family abroad, FaceTimes him from the Duty Free shop so he can pick out his own gift bottle…

I shit you not!

Why the language, you ask? Well, my own wife was out of the country not so long ago and, despite my asking sweetly for a nice travel exclusive, she returned empty handed… Supposedly, “There just wasn’t time.” 

Anyway, as Richard’s wife relayed the bottles she was considering through the magic of technology, I saw the Laphroaig An Cuan Mòr and secretly crossed my fingers that it would be Richard’s selection… I love Laphroaig! Fortunately for me, Richard has good taste, so I left the evening quite satisfied that I’d be sampling a lovely Islay before too long. 

Tonight was the night!

This is a beautiful dram, all orangey-copper, with thick, fat legs, thanks to the 48% abv.  The nose is amazing and I found myself enjoying the briny maritime notes and heavy peat for several minutes before finally giving in to take my first sip.  On the palate, this whisky is unmistakably Laphroaig, with licorice and medicinal qualities along with that familiar sweet backbone of ripe red fruits. However, compared to other Laphroaig expressions I have tasted, this one seems far more silky, smoother and, actually, more sophisticated. I love me some Laphroaig 10 or Quarter Cask but this whisky is something different and special.  There is a buttery, caramel and apricot-laden bourbon note (which will win me over every time) but there is also a rich, chewy fruitiness… Richard said figs but I thought it was dates.  The finish is medium long and full of salty licorice, oak and honey, with a return of smouldering peat. A brilliant dram, Laphroaig An Cuan Mòr is delicious whisky!

Just a Thought… No Age Statement Whiskies

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I, for one, do not have a problem with no age statement (NAS) whiskies. In fact, I find NAS kind of liberating…

(Here’s where, if I had enough readers, I’d wait for the collective gasp to subside!)

Okay, hear me out. I have read/heard the complaints about NAS whiskies. I won’t expound too much on why I think such folk are flat-out wrong but, if it would make them feel better that such whiskies were marked as “3 Year Old”, it wouldn’t make the dram any better or worse, now would it?!

So here’s why I find NAS a little bit freeing as a consumer: fairly, or unfairly, age statements carry a certain amount of expectation along with them. I can enjoy a 20- or 30- year old whisky as much as the next guy, But, when I see an age statement, I expect a bigger number to not only represent a higher price tag but also a higher quality and that, I’m sure the purists would agree, is not necessarily the case. Ardbeg 10… terrific! Highland Park 12… excellent! Glenlivet 15… better than good. Macallan 18… nice but not a personal favourite. Point made?

I’m not exactly sure when, in the history of marketing scotch, it was decided that age statements were the way to go. But it’s worth noting that in many other whisky-producing nations age statements are used very judiciously, with more focus on blending a variety of different aged spirits so to achieve consistent taste profiles. (Isn’t consistency also an indication of quality?) Likewise, in the wine world, it’s vintages that matter since the specific year in which the grapes were grown and harvested often tells the story about the quality in the bottle. (Good on you, Glenrothes!) It seems to me that age-statement marketing is mostly about just that, marketing.

I’m not saying that every NAS whisky is a top-notch drop, there certainly are some poor ones. But there are some bad age-statement drams out there as well. The thing is, at least for me, NAS whiskies don’t lead to any expectations, freeing me to just enjoy the dram for what it is. Two of my all-time favourites, Ardbeg Uigeadail and Laphroaig Quarter Cask just happen to be NAS, yet I find them perfectly delicious and, if the NAS branding keeps that level of quality at such affordability, then I’m quite pleased to have it!