...and 011's profile is exactly what I expect from a balanced, sherry-driven and peaty Islay malt in the best tradition of the great drams of the sixties and seventies. Congrats to this excellent composition, dear Laphroaig! This is a significant improvement over last year's release and I am tempted to say this is the best cask strength release ever (whoever reads this should notice that tastes are very different from person to person and no one should rely on anyone other's tasting note only when buying drams). But you can nail me on that statement: I enjoy quaffing this dram the same way I enjoy to sip old Ardbeg or Lagavulin distilled in the sixties or seventies - not because of the complexity (the old drams offer much more, of course) but because of this adorable "close-to-perfection" harmony of malt, sherry, peat and wood. Slainte!
The colour of 011 is a notch darker than 010 at burnished so maybe they added more sherry casks to this batch. The nose is bold and much more balanced than 010 which is too much wood-driven for me. 011 offers a fine balance of sweet malty, sherry, peaty and wooden aromas without any off-notes. This is a significant improvement compared to last year's edition that is good for three more points on this dimension. And indeed, the nose of 011 promises more sherry impact...
The taste of 011 is very balanced too with the malt, the peat and the sherry in the driver's seat and the wooden notes act as a firm but never dominating backbone structure. It is greatly chewable and even somewhat layered. I do not list all the flavours here because it is much more fun to find them over and over again when having a dram. What a difference to 010 which is more on the bitter (tannins) and herbal side without any differentiating layers. This is even a four points improvement over 010, triple wow! Some water turns both the nose and taste punchier while a bigger reduction releases adorable leathery, chalky and dried fruity aromas in the nose and turns the taste (even) more quaffable. I like this dram both neat and reduced to about 48% abv. A further reduction flattens the dram.
The initial mouthfeel of 011 is warming and instantly coating with nice peppery moments due to the high abv which I rather like (they are not distracting). And there are no bitter-astringent moments from heavy wood impact like in 010 which is great. The finish of 011 is long and adds more delicious spices and a hint of dark chocolate without any drying or bitter moments. Actually, they corrected all the things I did not like with 010 in this release (of course I am not that self-confident to assume they read my old review but it feels good, anyway). Maybe I am a little euphoric now (but it is my second tasting session of 011 already, so it is somewhat reliable) and I score this dimension three points better than 010 again - 010 is too wood-driven and therefore out of balance (according to my taste buds).