January 16, 2014

Review: The Exclusive Malts Laphroaig 2005 8-Year - A Young Fiery Beast from Islay

The standard Laphroaig 10-Year has always been a pretty good standby when something better isn’t available. It’s super peaty, pretty affordable, and more or less available anywhere you can get a drink (at least it is in New York City).  The truth is, and as our faithful readers know, Lagavulin 16-Year is our holy grail to which all peaty scotches will be forever compared.  Laphroaig has never quite floated our boat the way The Mighty Lag does.

But young, head-strong peaty malts are very trendy right now.  When we interviewed James Wells from Kilchoman Distillery, he opined that older scotch loses the boldness and strength of the peat and his favorites were younger fresher bottlings, particularly young Laphroaigs.  So when we came across The Exclusive Malts Laphroaig 2005 8 Year, we thought we'd dive in for a fierce, peaty "slap your ass and call you Sally" experience. 

There’s not a lot written about this special batch. The Exclusive Malts are bottled by an outfit called Creative Whisky Company who do a whole range single barrels bottled at cask strength and aged in a variety of different types of casks, depending on the line.  KL Wines has this bottle in stock at the moment for $79.99, which is a reasonably good buy for a cask strength Islay, even if it's a couple of years younger than 10-Year. And hey, what's good enough for Prince Charles should be good enough for the beast right?

Tasting Notes

Appearance: It’s light. Like, Bud Light light.

Nose:  Holy mother peater. You already know what you’re getting yourself into when you give this one a whiff. There’s no mistaking the peat here, but you also get a little green apple, leather, musk.

Body: Again with the leather, but also a bit of tobacco in there too. Maybe a hit of sweetness, like apricot, but smoky enough that you almost feel like you are smoking a cigar at the same time – as far as we’re concerned, this is not a bad thing. This is not the smoothest drink ever, but like the Laphroaig 10 year, it serves its purpose.

Finish: Just like our previous reviews on Laphroiag, this one’s a bit of a burner. Adding 2 drops of water opens it up a bit, but it’s still pretty intense on the way down. There’s something at the end that gives the impression of almonds and rosemary. Aromatic, but subtly so.

The Verdict

This definitely did reverse some of our indifference to Laphroaig, but we’re still not totally sold.  It's got some of that young peat magic that pops the mind in all kinds of interesting directions.  But our favorites are still the elder, wiser bottles where the burn has turned to warmth and the peat has settled into an old dependable friend rather than a young hothead.  Some of the youngins like Kilchoman seem to have found a formula to combine the rawness with a roundness and smoothness that we're not getting in this bottle.  

If you're a Laphroaig fan, you'll definitely want to check out The Exclusive Malt 2005.  It's different and it's a chance to experience a single barrel cask strength version of the distillery at a reasonable price, which is not so easy to come by.   



  1. Do you have an email address for your blog? Or only the option to post comments?

    1. Hi Dan, the best way to contact us is facebook.com/smokybeast

  2. Yeah, no facebook here. No worries, I was going to send some pics of a project I'm working on that you all might appreciate.