Laphroaig 10 (1978) vs. Laphroaig 10 (2000)
Last Friday I attended a tasting event held by Islay Whisky Society here in Goteborg. John McDougall and Henrik Aflodal hosted the event.
We had the opportunity to taste six Islay whiskies. Three of them were from Laphroaig. They were: Leap Frog 1987 (13 years-old) from Murray McDavid; Laphroaig 10 OB (bottled 2000) and Laphroaig 10 OB (bottled 1978).
A tasting like this isn’t the best occasion to really “deconstruct” a whisky IMO. . I would like to have spent more time with each whisky. But here is a short summary:
Leap Frog 1987, 46% abv – Murray McDavid
Color: White wine
Aroma: Very smoky; Tar; Iodine; Sweet
Taste: Very big; Salty; Olives (!); Clean and well balanced
Aftertaste: Very long
Laphroaig 10 OB (bottled 2000), 40% abv – Allied Distillers
Color: Darker than MMcD (E150a)
Aroma: Not as big as Leap Frog; Tar; Smoke; “Islaydine”
Taste: Balanced smokiness; Iodine; Medicinal; Some sweetness; A little bit dry
Aftertaste: Not as long as Leap Frog; Dry
Laphroaig 10 OB (bottled 1978), 40% abv – Long John International (Seager Evans & Company)
Color: Darker than the current bottling (Sherry and E150a?)
Aroma: Floweriness; “Perfumy”; Less sweet than the current issue; Sherry; More complex
Taste: Nice smokiness; Marzipan (!); Fruity; Oak; Complex; Very well balanced
Comments: 1968 they still used some sherry butts. (1969 Laphroaig established the current cask policy and they now only use first-fill bourbon casks for their standard issues.) In 1969, the year before John McDougall became a manager, they abandoned the use of coal fired stills.
In my opinion – Leap Frog was the best of the three. A vote among the participants ranked L78 no. 1 (22 votes) and Leap Frog as runner up (19 votes). Maybe some of the votes for L78 could be ascribed to the “halo effect”, i.e. the fact that it now is a rare and expensive bottling. I heard someone mention the figure £1000. I don’t know if that is correct though. 4 votes went to a fantastic Caol Isla 1981, cask strength from The Bottlers.
I thought that the L78 and L2000 had the same pungency. L2000 was more clean cut on the palate with a more pronounced maltiness and the L78 was more complex with notes of fruits and sherry. Comparing these two bottles does not give any support for the opinion that the current Laphroaig is blander. My findings should of course be taken at face value, given the circumstance under which they were tasted and the fact that this is only a comparison between these two bottles and not a general assessment between past and recent Laphroaigs.
John also told us that MMcD had won the legal battle against Allied Distillers and that they now wanted MMcD to call their whisky Laphroaig and not Leap Frog, This is because consumers calls Allied and wants to know were they can buy Leap Frog. Sometimes reality beats fiction!
More news: The Bruichladdich Distillery hasn’t been sold yet (November 17). The bidding between two competitors hasn’t been closed. John/Henrik wouldn’t disclose which two they were. Could it be Murray McDavid and Signatory?
We also tasted a 1987 Bowmore (12 years), 46% abv from MMcD. It was very good indeed. Not a trace of FWP (Flower Water Problem)! It had a nice butterscotch nose.
We also had an 8 year-old Islay Mist from 1975 at 43% abv from Islay Hunter/Laphroaig. It was one of the best blends I have ever tasted. It was made up of: 42% Laphroaig, 14% Glenlivet, 14% Glen Grant and 30% North British grain. Nothing like the current blend with the same name!
It was a magic evening. John McDougall is a great ambassador for Scotch whisky in general and Islay whisky in particular and Henrik Aflodal was a really good MC.
PS I posted this on Yahoo a couple of days ago since your BB weren't up and running
[This message has been edited by JEHU (edited 28 November 2000).]