September 16, 2015

Malts of Scotland Laphroaig Sherry Cask - Oh Yeah!!!

Indie Indie Indie

If you've seen our whiskey collection, you know that we're big fans of independent bottlers.

Quick definitions: "OB" or "official bottlings" are whiskies released directly by the distillery or by companies like Diageo who own the distilleries. Lagavulin 16-year and Laphroaig 10-year are official bottlings. There are also limited release OB bottles like Lagavulin 37-year and Laphroaig 25-year.

"IB" or "independent bottlings" are released by third party companies like Douglas Laing, Signatory, McGibbon's, A.D. Rattray, and so on.  These are independent bottlers who purchase stocks of whiskey (hundreds of barrels in many cases), age them, and release them in smaller batches, usually single casks. 

These are not the most collectible bottles. Official bottlings always fetch the most at retail or auction, and are usually the big fish in high priced whiskey collections. But indie bottles can be very special. Third party bottlers have the luxury of releasing one cask at a time. They don't have the burden of always having to put out big quantities of the same age malt every year. This means that they can really pay attention to each barrel. They can age it in the type of wood they feel best suits the malt, taste it every year until it's perfect, and release it whenever they feel it's at its prime. There are gems and bargains to be found in indie bottles.

Case in point: try to find an age-stated, sherry cask Laphroaig these days. Sure, there are releases like Cairdeas and PX Cask that are Non-Age-Stated Laphroaigs finished for a year or two in sherry barrels. But we're talking about 100% sherry cask matured goodness, over 10-years old. You know what, don't try. Take our word for it: it's impossible.

But in the indie world, you can sometimes find a gem like this:


Malts of Scotland is a German bottler that specializes in Islay malts. They have great taste in barrel-picking, and they really know how whiskey-philes like their product: cask strength, un-filtered, un-colored. Basically straight from the barrel. 

Check out the details on this one: 15 year Laphroaig aged in a Sherry Hogshead, bottled at 56.8% ABV. This one was bottled for the occasion of Aquavitae, an annual German whiskey festival. Malts of Scotland puts out tons of special releases like this, available all over Europe. Keep an eye out if you travel through Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, etc. They're not expensive and this is just the type of thing you want to grab at a liquor store on your next vacation or business trip oversees.

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Rock & roll nose of cantaloupe and peat. Oh this one's gonna be good. 'Phroaig's signature phenol and campfire rocks (some people say ashtray) are there, but so subdued and 'in the pocket'. Hiding behind it is rose water and chocolate covered cherries. The nose is maybe not incredibly different from some of the modern sherry finishes, but there's a subtlety to it that hints to great things ahead.

Palate: The peat hides from the tongue and drinking white chocolate, green grapes, and sweet cream. Really lush mouthfeel that coats your palate with honeyed fruits.

Finish: The prodigal smoke makes a most welcome return on the finish. Big peat smoke, but so well balanced against the big proof and all the sweetness. The sherry comes to the fore here but it's not cloying, just blends wonderfully with the other tastes. More grapes, perfume, honey, and lots of smoke.


No wonder it's so hard to find a cask strength, age-stated, 100% sherry cask Laphroaig. They're incredibly delicious!  Full power, super smooth, big mouthfeel, lots of smoke, beautiful sherry finish, everything comes together here. Brilliant stuff.

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