24 drams till Christmas tasting #19: Laphroaig 1990 19 yo by A.D. Rattray

Laphroaig 1990 19 yo by A.D. RattrayDram data:
Distillery: Laphroaig
Bottler: A.D. Rattray
Distilled: 29.03.1990
Bottled: 30.06.2009
Age: 19
Limitation: 203 bottles
Casks: refill ex-Bourbon #2239
Alcohol: 56%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Dirty, peaty, smoky Islay as we love (or hate…) it on the nose! Phenolic peat smoke, damp oily rags used to wipe down a puffers’ engine, cigarette ash and iodine wound disinfectant paired with a lemon-infused get-well-tea in the Bowmore hospital. Oh and a eucalyptus shrub as a twisted gift for the patient thrown in for good measure! Salty too – licking sea-stones at the Laphroaig pier.

The cask didn’t contribute too much – just a layer of background vanilla sweetness balancing the “manly” notes and adding a hard to describe elegance – the beauty and the beast united in a bottle, perhaps? Just like the Caol Ila we had a few days ago, this is the magic of (multiple) refill wood – in this case ex-bourbon. The cask took away the rough edges (this does not nose like 56% ABV at all!), added a little but left loads of flavour. On the palate we’ve got an initially quite sweet (vanilla cake icing) sensation, paired with alcohol and the peat notes coming in third. Quite a bit sweeter than expected, actually! Mouth-coating, oily and rich. Salty white chocolate, light vanilla pipe tobacco ash, a waft of actually more Bowmore-like peat smoke drifting by, caramelised lemon and orange pieces with dried peaches and tinned lychees. The stuff they grow on Islay these days… The long finish is only slightly alcoholic upon swallowing, the rich sweet and malty notes with a good dose of iodine peat smoke dominate. A rich, sweet, smoky mixture glides down the throat, leaving behind a layer of peaty sweetness.

Oh boy, did you notice how certain drams fill your head with mental (probably in a double meaning…) images? That’s when you know you’ve got a great dram in your glass! Once again, that’s what quality refill wood does to a great spirit – refining it, honing it without overly dominating. Never look down on refill wood, as oftentimes – if given enough time – it can be superior to new casks, especially for heavily peated whiskies. Sorry to say there are probably no bottles of this whisky around anymore but I’m sure there’s more where this one came from, sadly not at 2009 prices…

Score: 89/100
(Nose: 89 Palate: 89 Finish: 88)

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