Its always great fun when you get the opportunity to look at whisky from a distillery distilled in different decades..
Will they be worlds apart or similar, will they be better quality or has the distillery managed to be consistent over the period, these are all questions that need to be answered in due course..
Todays experiment is for two 15 year old official bottlings distilled at the Laphroaig distillery but from different decades, one from the 1980’s and the other from the 1990’s..
This is all thanks to Cheaper By The Dram.. A fairly new concept in the online whisky to door scheme..
A few months back I was extremely privileged to be contacted by them in order to give some thought into the scheme and to be one of the first Bloggers to sample their offerings, it is always a real privilege to get the opportunity to work along side any company never mind one that is just starting out and is confident enough to approach a blog like mine in order to help maximise their exposure to the community..
After a chat and then an opportunity to ask a few questions to the founder Mark (interview can be found HERE ) the initial post was published ( HERE ) I now have the opportunity to look at two more offerings from them and decided to do this head to head of two Laphroaig’s which can be purchased HERE ..
Doing any kind of head to head is fun but to do it from different decades and from bottles that might be in theory long gone or just incredibly expensive just adds to the experience in my opinion and that is the essence of what Cheaper By The Dram is all about, bringing bottles back to the drinker and away from the dusty shelfs and dark corners of the dreaded collector ( yes guilty as charged )
Laphroaig 15 1980’s
Supplier.. Cheaper By The Dram
Nose.. This is very coastal in aroma with plenty of those medicinal peat aromas rising along with tropical fruits and a seaweed, smouldering wood on a dying fire along with burnt toffee and a hint of dark chocolate. In the background you can detect staleness like you find in old dunnage warehouses..
Palate.. The peat is very evident although its quite soft in flavour and brings with it quite a lot of soft fruit and gentle spices.
Finish.. Gentle smoke and soft spices
Laphroaig 15 1990’s
Age.. 15 years
Supplier.. Cheaper By The Dram
Nose.. Smoke and ash rise with a very earthy note joining, soft hints of stewed fruits and a little spice, toffee and musty leather aromas mingle with bounty bars and damp ashtrays.
Palate.. Punchy and smokey. There is certainly more smoke and peat evident and a hit of pepper on the initial sip certainly gives more than the first dram.. The fruit eventually comes through along with salted peanuts, bitter chocolate and the oak is more evident.
Finish.. Pungent and spicy
Thoughts.. The initial bottling from the 80’s is certainly a world apart from the 9’s bottling, its softer and far more approachable for myself, that said if you are a lover of the peat then I suspect the 90’s bottle could be more up your street..
The 80’s bottle just feels more relaxed but that might also be down to the 40% abv just softening things down, the nose is more fruity and the palate gives a more balanced feel, but again this could be the result from the abv!!
What is staggering is the difference in price tags – The 80’s bottle is around the £1350 mark (retail) and the 90’s bottle £400 (retail)
Would I be willing to shell out £1350 for the 80’s bottle ? Hell no.. But the £35 tag is far more reasonable and has given me the opportunity to taste something that unless I have a bottle hidden away in a cupboard I would not have the opportunity to taste at any other time..
This also just shows how the two worlds of collecting bottles and the secondary market is important to the whisky industry, without collectors we wouldn’t have the opportunity to taste these older bottlings as they would have been opened long ago, alas that also brings with it the secondary market price tags which I have to agree are sometimes ridiculous but unfortunately that’s life..
The value here is in the sample market where bottles are purchased and broken down into multiple shares and distributed, this then gives many more people the opportunity to enjoy whisky from days gone by and once again enhances the journey..