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On The Quest For Laphroaig Cask Strength

by Oliver Klimek on January 29, 2014

A few days ago, after a hard day’s work, I had the sudden desire to pour myself a dram of Laphroaig Cask Strength. There was just a tiny little problem. I had no Laphroaig Cask Strength. So I poured myself a dram of PX Cask instead, sat down in front of my computer with a sigh and started to look around the online whisky retailers for a bottle of said whisky.

But lo and behold, there was none to be found – for regular prices at least. Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange, Royal Mile Whiskies, Loch Fyne Whiskies, Whisky.de and others do not currently have it in stock. Apart from a few older bottlings for collectors’ prices, everyone was sold out. Heck, not even Laphroaig’s own website has it.

There used to be a time not long ago when the lineup of Laphroaig’s core products was as unspectcular as the whisky itself was spectacular. 10 year old, 10 year old cask strength, 15 year old. Add to that the 25 and 30 year old high end bottles and the occasional one-offs like for Feis Ile, and then you had it.

Then came the Quarter Cask. Laphroaig’s first venture into experimental wood craft proved to be highly successful and it became a regular addition to the range. Now that they have tasted blood, Laphroaig have begun to churn out wood “enhanced” expressions as if there was no tomorrow. Triple wood, PX Cask, QA Cask, An Cuan More; and I am sure the next one is already lurking behind the corner. While the Quarter Cask has been highly lauded by many, reviews for the successors have been pretty mixed. and I am probably not the only one seeing this procession of expressions as Laphroaig’s answer to Ardbeg’s Flavour of the Year approach.

Unfortunately, the Cask Strength – the quintessential Laphroaig – appears to have been stomped by this cavalcade of bottlings. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the change to numbered batches for the CS went more or less along with the introduction of the No Age Statement philosophy which is likely to bring in more profit than a cask strength 10 year old. And probably the switch from the 15 to the 18 year old has put some pressure on the stock as well.

When a batch is sold out, it is sold out. This is easier to explain than supply problems for a regular core range bottling. So the batch numbering for Laphroaig Cask Strength has effectively turned it into a limited release that many are willing to pay high prices for on the secondary market. But not me.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat January 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm

What a shame is so hard to find. This appears readily available in USA even going back 1-2 batches.

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Oliver Philp January 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm

I feel your pain. I had a bottle of batch 004 and, with a 10% discount from the FoL shop almost covering the postage, it came in around £40, a very good price for one of the best Islay whiskies available.

The scramble for An Cuan Mor (a NAS for £70, people?) was particularly unseemly. If another batch of CS appears, who knows if there will be enough to go round (or if it will still be as well priced).

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two-bit cowboy January 30, 2014 at 8:32 am

Who knows whether “Beam” Laphroaig CS 10 Batch 6 will come out before the “Suntory” name consumes the brand?

“Pat” is right, though. CS 10 is easily found in the US.

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bacchus January 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

I guess if you come to Alsace, you’ll go down to Serge, but if you stop near Strasbourg, I can pour you batch 5 and 4 (yes, in that order…), or one of the Cairdeas.
to know that CS4 has been sold 40£ makes me look at my bottles circonspectly… but no regrets, it’s really marvelous.
and by the way, am i the only one to find the Quarter Cask a bit sour, far too much oak-driven and certainly not having the finesse of a 15 (nose!) or 18 yo (finish!)?

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Oliver Philp January 30, 2014 at 9:55 am

I agree, though I think we’re in a small minority. I think even the standard 10 is classier, if washed out at 40% – would love to see it upped to 43%, like in the US.

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bacchus January 30, 2014 at 10:46 am

oh i suscribe to this.
The 10 is a tad too watery.

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