Color: Light Amber
Nose: Laphroaig! If you're buying this, there's a decent chance you're doing so in order to get a quintessential Laphroaig experience, and the first nosing augurs wells. Because immediately, one cannot help but think "medicinal." That's the salient quality I'm looking for with this dram, and I'm getting it in spades immediately: iodine and really strong, unflavored liquid doses of medicine. Right there with it, though, is salt. Specifically, it's salty sea air. If you're feeling metaphoric, let's say there's some grilled oysters with a touch of lemon seasoning, as well. So it's got a little bit of the coastal character, but always integrated with that stronger, darker side that differentiates this from, say, Caol Ila. Finally, there's a trace of vanilla coming through, well integrated into the whole. That last bit was hinted at by the color, because a 10-yo, bourbon-matured Laphroaig with this color clearly has some decently active casks at work. Water mutes a bit of the harshness, which in this case is sort of the point, but it does bring out a nice powdered sugar note.
Taste: Good times continue on the arrival. As others have mentioned, this really doesn't come in hot, especially for a 60% ABV whisky. Really impressive to be able to pleasantly sip this neat, and it adds to the appeal of getting a rocket-fuel, young, mostly-unwooded Laphroaig. Like the nose, you're getting big peat on the palate, too: this time ash is playing more of a part than it did on the nose, but the medicinal element remains strong. Brutal but also clearly well-matured. By the way, I don't get a ton of development by adding water here--worth checking it out on the nose, but I prefer it neat on the palate.
Finish: The tastiest ashtray you've ever licked followed by a lemon squeeze.
Comments: It's hard for me not to think of whiskies in archetypes, and perhaps the first one to spring to mind is the unadulterated peat monster. Now, of course, there are better peated whiskies out there than this, and many have more to say, especially on the palate. However, this bad boy scores huge marks for me as a exercise in style, because it nails that uncompromising, search-and-destroy profile that I sometimes seek. Even among its South Shore brethren, I think this example of Laphroaig is exceptional qua "Peat Monster." I consider this a worthy addition to just about any collection, because there's not really anything else I can think of that's widely and consistently available that delivers these results.