So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Laphroaig 32yo 2015 vs Lagavulin 37yo 1976/2013

It’s great that Laphroaig has enough old stock to be able to issue specials like this <fairly> recent 32 year old. We will just have to accept the pricing that comes along with such a release – I’m just glad it doesn’t come in a crystal bottle in a 2 foot oaken box. In fact it comes in a very normal bottle that suggests drinking cabinet shelf rather than mantlepiece display, and there’s something very genuine about that.  Although at 5,880 bottles and GBP800+, it hasn’t managed to sell out everywhere just yet, so you might be able to get one at some duty free.

The natural choice to go head to head with would be something 30+ years, heavily peated and of competitive provenance. Enter Lagavulin 37yo, distilled 1976, it is the most matured Lagavulin released to date. This was part of the 2013 Diageo Special Release, and at 1,868 bottles, it sold out quickly despite the then unbelievable price of GBP1900+ retail. This was matured in refill european and american oak, as compared to the Laphroaig’s first fill oloroso, so I think there will be some fun there.

To come to think of it, the 32yo Laphroaig must have been distilled in 1982/3, as opposed to the Lagavulin’s 1976, which just doesn’t seem right. I can think of another Laphroaig that might be the better match. There was a 31yo 1974 Laphroaig for La Maison du Whisky, but alas we work with what we have.

Laphroaig 32yo 46.6%. 2015 release.


Nose Nose: I was prepared for a woody and tannic Laphroaig but no. The balance is dreamy. Iodine-seaweed hit comes off immediately but it is so subtle and mashed with these hints of warm fruitiness. This is not a powerful nose but it reverberates with the gentle elegance of seaspray, glowing coal, some deep dark demerera and sprigs of sage. There is a more phenolic side too – mentholated tobacco, hot engines and exhaust, but again oh so exquisite instead of explosive.

Taste Palate: Not weak or tired at all. Here it’s actually big and really phenolic. A bruiser full of these engine oil, earthy, coal pit flavours. It pulled a fast one! Well integrated fruitiness again, plus these sweet rich sherry and woody notes that are much more noticeable here. Lots of developing sourness – sour fruits, a phenolic lime?

Finish Finish: Long, iodine, petrochemical-y and warm. Salted lemon rinds. Excellent.


Really excellent. Enveloping and unexpectedly expressive. Though in terms of profile arguably modern, which in itself is not a negative thing at all, you just have to rate it like for like.


Lagavulin 37yo, 1976, 51% 2013 Diageo Special Release


Nose Nose: I thought the Laphroaig superb. This is eye wateringly sublime. Thirty seven years and it ripples with a dignified and steady power, unbent by time. From its depths come tiny but myriad notes of all sorts of woody spices – licorice, aniseed, cedarwood, agar wood, nutmeg, camphor etc – the wood cannot outdo Lagavulin though. And around that is a clear maritime ring, but gone is the roar of youth. Here it is moonlight and the glassy sea, the sort that pulls you into quiet retrospection. Cold ashy soot, charred wood and fragments of some caramelized ham rinds swirl little eddies in a silent fire pit. Lots of old rubber. And everywhere these enveloping balms and assuaging waxes lulls you into spending many a minute more. This is arresting whisky. Impossible to drink quickly.

Taste Palate: Dryer on the tongue. Dry, phenolic and woody richness tuned down to seductive. Wood ash and wispy smoke – again something I find in newer Lagavulins too. Also dried fishing nets, sea-beaten boats on the beach. There’s really a lot of these subtle petrochemical oils and phenolic notes massing about, it’s just indescribably complex. The rubbery dirty mezcal-ly Lagavulin thumbprint is there after all this time.

Finish Finish: Long, rubber salt wet hemp, wood. Pure joy.

Score Divine

Nothing I can add but that this is an absolutely stunning whisky. A personal top 5.


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This entry was posted on April 15, 2016 by in Lagavulin, Laphroaig and tagged , .
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