Laphroaig Quarter Cask starts out life like any other Laphroaig. After distillation it gets lovingly placed in to an ex-bourbon barrel where it lives a quite life. Then, right as it’s getting comfortable in it’s American Oak home (around the 5 year mark), along come the distillery crew and they evict the liquid from it’s spacious bourbon barrels, split it up and force it into specially made quarter casks for the final 7-8 months of it’s maturation process.
The smaller cask means that it has 30% more contact with the wood which helps it mature more quickly and gives it a deeper, woodier and more complex flavor and aroma than is normally found in a 5-6 year old scotch. The inspiration for this unique approach, in case you were wondering, did not come from the growing practice of small barrel maturing in craft distillers. It came from the past. 200 years ago these small casks are how farmers and bootleggers were able to easily transport, and hide, their casks of whisky.
Overall it’s completely fantastic. The aroma is round, soft and enjoyable with a unique earthiness threading through the sweet, smoky and woody notes. The flavor is rich with smoke, salt, wood and rustic sweet notes. Those two alone would make this a great whisky, but then you add in the delicate balance and long tasty finish and you end up with one hell of a dram in your hands.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask Review
A warm soft peat lolls out of the glass followed by vanilla, wood and some smoked meat. There is a slight graininess to it that mixes with a bit of salt, dark fruit and bruleed sugar.
Here the smoke is even more pronounced than with the aroma. It’s accompanied by a surge of iodine, salt and wood that surge over the palate and pave the way for notes of raw sugar, malt, dark fruit and a hint of citrus. There is a slight astringency running beneath, but it acts more like punctuation than a distraction.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Full bodied with an excellent balance of savory and sweet notes that all line up and play their parts. There is a nice bit of bit and it has a great oily feel that coats the mouth and prolongs the upcoming finish.
Looooong finish filled with malt, smoke, a silky sweetness and a dark earthiness that fades to smoky wood.
*This bottle was graciously provided by Laphroaig's PR agency for the purpose of this review. The views, opinions and tasting notes are 100% my own.