laphroaig select scotchLaphroaig Select is the latest salvo from a brand that doesn’t shy away from innovation. In recent years, Laphroaig supplemented its portfolio with the release of Laphroaig Triple Wood and, more recently, Laphroaig Cairdeas Port Wood Edition. Now, the Islay-based Scotch whisky maker is taking cues from a few of its best hits to create Laphroaig Select.

Laphroaig Select is named such because it’s matured in select casks representing a handful of the brand’s signature styles. So here we’ve got a blend of whiskies that have been aged in Oloroso sherry butts, new American oak, hogshead casks seasoned with Laphroaig PX, quarter casks and first fill bourbon casks.

The result is a new take on Laphroaig’s signature style. On the nose, you’ll find Islay’s trademark peat smoke, but here it’s tempered as compared to Laphroaig 10, for example. Other aromas include honey, oak, citrus, pears, red fruits and a medicinal note. It’s missing that strong smoke and brine combo that Laphroaig fans like so much, which seems a bit disappointing at first. But this is a new expression, so there’s no reason to assume things would stay exactly the same. Moving on, the palate is medium-bodied with some up front sweetness, and it’s altogether light and subtle, two words rarely used to describe Laphroaig. Flavors range from peat and oak to pepper, ginger and fruit, and things here seem more composed than the nose suggested. On the finish, this whisky moves toward smoke, citrus and dry oak.

Laphroaig Select is a long ways from what most people expect when they drink Laphroaig. That said, this lighter, perhaps friendlier version might appeal to those who find the whisky’s bold character too overpowering. For us, though, this is missing that delightful, smoky punch we’ve come to know and love.

In either case, it’s worth sampling for the melange of flavors alone. The interplay between fruit, spice, smoke and sweetness–applied in turn by the multi-cask aging process–provides an interesting look at oak’s affect on whisky.

– 40% ABV
– $55

CE Rating: ★★★

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