Whisky Advocate

Review: new Laphroaig 25 year old

April 10th, 2009

I tasted it yesterday afternoon. Yes, it’s a jump up in price from its predecessors, but it is a really nice whisky.

Laphroaig, 25 year old (2008 Edition), 51.2%, $500
The flavors evolve on the nose and palate, with peat kiln smoke, fresh asphalt, damp earth warehouses, morning after campfire ash, and old boat dock contrasting nicely with toffee apple, crème caramel, delicate raspberry preserve and dried citrus. Long, smoky, spicy, briny, seaweed, dirty martini-tinged finish. This whisky comes from a combination of both sherry and bourbon oak-aged casks, and the marriage works. I also like that it retains some of its youthful brashness, while showing the depth that maturity affords a whisky. A delicious, well balanced, old-fashioned Laphroaig.

(P.S. Reviewing this whisky gave me an excuse to open a “fresh” bottle of its predecessor, the 30 year old, and here are my thoughts. The 30 year old is softer, mellower, drier, and more debonair. The 25 year old is bolder, more youthful, more dynamic, richer, and sweeter—bottling at cask-strength really helps here. Both whiskies are very nice, buy quite different in personality.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 95

23 Responses to “Review: new Laphroaig 25 year old”

  1. Neil Fusillo says:

    Sounds lovely. It’s a bit out of my price range for the moment, but it sounds like it certainly merits putting on the list.

    It’s amusing to hear a 25-year-old described as youthful in any context, but having had the 30-year-old, I think I can fully understand.

  2. Todd says:

    Sounds great, I bought quite a bit of the 30 yo but at $500, I fold. THis reminds me why I’m drinking bourbon now.

  3. Red_Arremer says:

    These new expressions, the 18 and the 25 year old, appeal on the basis of their fullness and intensity. The 15 and the 30 year old, which they replace, had completely different values– unmistakeable profiles to be sure, but also terrific polish and drinkability.

    I’m looking forward to tasting the new expressions. Still, Laphroaig had a beautifully old fashioned thing going with the more mature end of its range and I’m sorry to see it go.

  4. Cary says:

    I’d love to try this as Laphroaig is one of my favorites, however, I find the price prohibitive. Also, would anybody care to contrast this with the OB Port Ellen annual releases (at about $300) for value?

  5. Rich says:

    thanks for the review, John. i realize it must have been difficult work. 😉

    sounds like i’ll have to try this at some point. maybe just a dram some day, or a bottle if i ever find one on “sale”.

    but even before i heard about this bottle, i found myself interested in finding a cask-strength Laphroaig with sherry influence, so maybe it was “meant to be”…

  6. Rich says:

    Cary, from my perspective, i’d say the most important consideration is: Laphroaig fortunately will be with us for a very long time, but they’re not making any more Port Ellen. so if you only have $300 to spare at the moment, i might suggest you lean towards an OB Port Ellen. plus, they are wonderful bottlings; i never recommend a bottle simply because it’s rare.

    • John Hansell says:

      Yes, grabbing up any available Port Ellen (when you can get it for a good price) seems like a good strategy. I did that a decade ago. I bought 11 & 12 year old Cadenhead’s Port Ellen back in the early 1990s (for about $50). I like young Islay whiskies, and young Port Ellens are long gone. But still, there’s opportunity to get good mature Port Ellens for a reasonable price.

  7. Red_Arremer says:

    Only a few years ago, I could pick up a bottle of Laphroaig 30 and a bottle each of Longmorn 15, Compass Box Eleuthera, John Mcdougall’s Bladnoch 15 cask strength, and two bottles of Black Bottle 10 (all awesome, but no longer available expressions) and the total would still be less than is what is today being asked for a single bottle of cask strength Laphroaig 25.

    It’s not just the Port Ellen’s– If you want value for money, picking through what’s left over of releases from previous years is a good way to go.

  8. butephoto says:

    The price of this shows exactly where the industry is going. I’m not sure they can keep putting the prices up on whiskies like this. Look at the price of Highland Park 18yo for comparison and you’ll see how ridiculous this bottling’s price is.

    • John Hansell says:

      Butephoto: Hopefully the prices will eventually plateau–sooner than later. But I guess the really wealthy people don’t truly experience a recession. So, I don’t see the really high-end whiskies coming down in price any time soon.

  9. Neil Fusillo says:

    I think they can get away with it for a little while. Average people see that ’30’ year old label, and immediately equate that with quality, regardless of how good it actually may be or how much better (or worse) it is than a younger year.

    They then read all the hype about how a fine whisky tends to be expensive (a descriptive, rather than prescriptive explanation, but few uneducated people distinguish the difference), and they think that price is normal.

    The rarity factors into it to some degree, as does the exclusivity, and if the sales of travel-retail-only whiskies are any indication, people WILL pay extra for exclusivity.

    And so, for the well-to-do person wanting something ‘special,’ the price might seem absolutely reasonable.

    For those of us who are really into whisky, and may have a favourite that doesn’t command quite such a premium, it seems a little outrageous. But I don’t think it’s necessarily bad business sense quite yet.

    However, if they keep pushing the prices up, the marketers will put off a lot of the people who made the expensive whiskies as popular as they are. With an ever-increasing number of brands out there, there’s bound to be something we’ll find that we like that doesn’t cost $500 a bottle. Or even $100 a bottle.

    For me, my ‘inexpensive’ stand-by whiskies are things like a Balvenie double-wood, or a Jura Superstition, or an Ardbeg 10 year, or a Coal Ila 12. Whiskies I can truly enjoy without feeling like I’m skimping, but at a price that doesn’t make me afraid to drink them for fear that each glass HAS to get me its $30 worth or I’m somehow missing out.

  10. Lucas says:

    I have tried it some time ago and wrote a pretentious review of it here:

    I still claim it is the best whisky I have tasted so far. It’s spectacular. If any whisky is worth this kind of money, it certainly is this one.

    • John Hansell says:

      Yes, it’s a great Laphroaig. In fact, I just bumped it up a point to 95 (classic status). I love it’s pungeant, old fashioned nature, combined with its maturity, and balance from the “appropriate” amount of sherry influence. It’s not the most complex whisky I have ever tasted, but very distinctive.

  11. Rich says:

    great… just when i’ve convinced myself that i don’t need a bottle, you guys go and up the ante… /:)

    i guess i’ll have to move this back to my “wish list” and watch the finances…

  12. Andre says:

    Could it be compared with another recent release, the 21 yo Laphroaig (originally exclusive for Heathrow Airport) which sells for a similar (exorbitant) price ?

  13. Red_Arremer says:

    Can’t wait to get a taste. I’m particularly curious about how it works at lower strengths. Has anyone tried water with it?

  14. John Hansell says:

    Andre, I never had the chance to taste the 21 yo, but I’ve seen it around.

  15. John Hansell says:

    Red, I have cut it (just a little bit) and it tastes great. Having said this, it is good to go just as it is.

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