Most distilleries offer a cask strength version of their whisky. Cask strength means that it is unfiltered (save barrier-filtering which removes any floating particles) and is bottled directly from the aging cask. Laphroaig creates annual versions of their 10 year old cask strength whisky marked by numbered batches. We sampled 2013’s release, Batch 5, which in the US is currently the most available cask strength Laphroaig. Batch 5 is matured in re-charred American bourbon barrels and weighs in at a hefty 57.2% abv. The nose is loud and complex with apples, lemon rinds, spiced coconut and an earthy layer of fresh linens. These flavors are all subject to the famous Laphroaig peat smoke, which is front center from the nose, straight through to the palate. On the tongue a vibrant, freshly cut hickory char accompanies the peat smoke to a very warm, sea salt and hot-tar like finish. A drop of water mellows the bite and brightens the flavors, adding more fruit and a complex floral/herbal mix that is like being enveloped in a massive garden. Batch 5 is a commanding whisky – not for the unseasoned drinker. But if you’re a Laphroaig fan, the cask strength version has all the peaty goodness of the regular 10 year with a huge amount of added flavor complexities that are well worth an extra $10. Locally available at Gates Circle Liquors for $70. Rating 93/100.
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