A number of people have debated if Laphroaig has lost its attack in the last few years and some whisky writers have gone as far as to speculate that Laphroaig suffers from chill filtering. In my mind Laphroaig is definitely different so I conducted a non scientific test. I purchased on ebay an older miniature of Laphroaig out of the UK which was full and not partially evaporated. This is the older "dump" style bottle rather than the current style of miniature and I think it is over 20 years old. I have been drinking Laphroaig for over 20 years and have empty miniatures from that period and they are not this shape but the common shape we see today. I compared the older mini (bottled at 10 years and at 43%) and a current bottle of the 10 year old Laphroaig at 40% and for a bit of fun I included the Cask Strength as well bottled at 57.3%.
The older 43% Laphroaig was completely different, full of sherry, sweet butter, smoke, peat and none of the legendary gauze. It was slightly syrupy on the mouth and very smokey and peaty but not a huge dramatic attack as I had remembered. What surprised me the most was the sherry which made it very, very excellent.
The current version of Laphroaig was lighter in color and the nose did not reveal a hint of sherry or for that matter bourbon (which is curious because Laphroaig is matured in Bourbon casks) but quite a bit of wood, dust and the famous hospital gauze. It was a "thinner" whisky with hints of citrus or more specifically orange. It was certainly dryer and slightly dusty and reminded me of Lagavulin (I always find Lagavulin to be "dusty" when tasted).
The Cask Strength was sweeter than the current 10 and slightly darker in color (as you would expect) however with the addition of water it's closer to the current version of Laphroaig, as you’d expect.
As I stated this is a very non scientific test and only involved one sample of an older Laphroaig. However the main discovery is that this older bottle and the current version are different but from the same family and I really love Laphroaig either way.
Any comments or observations would be appreciated.