As autumn approaches and drags in cooler weather, certain varieties of whisky tend to become more prominent in the glass. Said varieties tend to include characteristics of the cask strength and peated sort. Currently, the evenings are becoming cool and I find myself diving more into bottles such as this – Laphroaig’s new Lore. Our pour for the night.
Lore: noun \ˈlȯr\
- archaic: something that is taught: lesson.
- something that is learned: a: knowledge gained through study or experience: traditional knowledge or belief.
- a particular body of knowledge or tradition.
This is the premise of Lore. Released earlier this summer, Lore, which is said to be “Laphroaig’s richest single malt whisky expression ever,” was launched to celebrate a legacy of over 200 years of masterful whisky making. An art form handed down from one generation of distillery managers and custodians to the next.
Laphroaig distillery manager, John Campbell, created Lore to honor how Laphroaig has been made for the last two centuries, which you can quickly tell by visiting Laphroaig’s website.
“Laphroaig Lore is the story of Laphroaig itself. It’s a massive whisky, as bold as it is deep, and one that I sincerely hope does justice to our many generations of Laphroaig distillery managers,” said Campbell. “We make the whisky we make because of the knowledge and craft that has been passed down throughout the years. Lore is our story, bottled – the richest of the rich.”
Laphroaig’s story began in 1815 when brothers Alexander and Duncan Johnston created and crafted a recipe for extraordinarily rich single malt. That recipe was significantly added to in the 1920s by then distillery manager, Ian Hunter, who was amongst the first to pioneer the use of ex-bourbon casks. Further chapters were added to Laphroaig’s history by the 20th century’s only female Scotch whisky distiller/owner, Bessie Williamson.
What is most interesting about this particular Laphroaig is the variety of casks that make up the whisky. We are not talking a couple different cask types here – Lore is comprised of liquid being drawn from a selection of casks including double matured first-fill ex-bourbon barrels followed by virgin European oak, first-fill oloroso sherry butts, first-fill and refill quarter casks, and refill ex-Laphroaig stock. In other words, just a few.
Lore joins the permanent Laphroaig portfolio, which currently includes Laphroaig 10-Year-Old, 10-Year-Old Cask Strength, Quarter Cask, Triple Wood, and Select. Time to see how this bottle stands with the rest of the crowd…
Price: Approx. $125/750mL
ABV: 48% – Natural Color | Non Chill-filtered
Nose: Decent balance of sweetness and peat. The classic Laphroaig aromas of ash, smoke, and charred seaweed are right there but are intertwined with notes of caramel, what seems like smoked jam – those sherry casks coming through – licorice, and spiced honey. With that, ash and wood coals dance around brine and peppery chocolates before it all cycles back around. Quite smoky.
Palate: Why I love whiskies such as this – thick and creamy, and bold. It explodes on the palate, bringing flavors of salted caramel, those notes of peppery chocolates and spiced honey, toasted wood and ash, caramel cream candies, slight hints of the smoked jam, more pepper and spices, and licorice. Peaty goodness, but you definitely have to take your time to get under the surface.
Finish: Long and lingering with smoked sweets, ash, and a licorice bite that drags along.
First, the rub. It is a $125 no-age-statement (NAS) whisky. I am accepting it, though, as this is quite an interesting single malt. For the price, I simply tend to prefer the balance and complexity of the 18-Year-Old. There are a lot of components here, and it all comes together fairly well. Laphroaig’s richest single malt to date? To me, that seems like a marketing stretch, but it definitely has character.