Tasting Notes: Laphroaig New Make

If you ever have the good fortune of finding yourself at a Friends of Laphroaig event, Simon Brooking, the distillery’s ambassador to the US, comes armed with many a good yarn and usually a very special bottle of Laphroaig tucked away somewhere safe. He is by all means a cheery chap, and very glad to share his Laphroaig with a Friend. At the Great Chicago Whisk(e)y Debate, Simon had with him something you don’t see too often — a bottle of Laphroaig New Spirit. This is the liquor fresh off the stills, before it is barrelled and aged. It would have become whisky if we didn’t get our drams on it, but it being less than three years aged it is legally not Scotch or whisky, and is known simply as “new spirit” or “new make.” In the US I believe you can call this kind of stuff “white whiskey.”

Abv: 63.6%

Color: clear as crystal

Nose: berries and currants, a sharp fattiness (something like a mild blue cheese), fresh salt, bright malt, and bread pudding

Palate: pure smoked barley, baked beans, sea salt, roasted malt, cinnamon.

Finish: hot and smokey

Overall: well, the fruits were strong on the nose, along with an oilyness and saltiness, and good cereal notes. The palate showed me what Laphroaig is all about. Before it gets in to those ex-Makers Mark barrels, it already has a great smokey malt flavour. I didn’t feel that the typical medicinal or maritime flavors that are so evident in standard Laphroaig expressions were strongly apparent at this point, but that may have been due to either the strength of the malt flavor or the very high alcohol content. Despite its distance from being a true whisky, it was a true Laphroaig and even enjoyable as a dram.

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