Whisky and Words Number 68: Laphroaig Lore

They have swapped the usual Laphroaig label color profile for a darker look, to match the richly colored spirit.

I gave Laphroaig’s Triple Wood a positive review a couple weeks back. Essentially their Quarter Cask whisky using Oloroso butts for a third stage, the ‘3Wood’ brought a punchy midrange of fruit and spice notes to the classic Laphroaig style. According to the carton notes, the Lore reads like a super 3Wood, as the spirit is “drawn from a selection of aged casks including first-fill sherry casks, smaller quarter casks and our most precious stock,” presumably of ex-Bourbon casks. The carton notes tell us the intent was to crate the “richest ever Laphroaig.” Like the 3Wood, the Lore is not chill filtered and is also bottled at 48% ABV. Frankly, using the Triple Wood as a starting point sounds like a good strategy to me. I assume they are taking the same recipe, but being more selective with casks. So I’ll use the 3Wood as a comparison for this review.

On the UK website, they state they use five different casks, aged 7 to 21 years. They also state Jim Murray listed Lore as the best NAS whisky in his 2019 bible. Promising! We won’t get much more info from Laphroaig’s website as they have terrible coverage of their range, just a shopfront. And their ‘contacts us’ page will not load if you have even the minimum protections on with your browser. Sorry Laphroaig, I’m not pulling my knickers down for you. Get with modern security! Anyway, the five types would be first-and-second fill Bourbon, same for Sherry, plus the quarter casks, there’s your five.

Lots of info on the Lore’s…lore. Click for hi res.

I knew Lore would pass the open bottle test from my Octomore review. It’s smelling nice in my writing nook now. I’m 3 feet away and get that ‘old scotch’ smell: leathery, dark sherry and subtle phenolics. On the nose the sherry is really at the fore. This nose is not exactly smoky. The peat in the Lore reminds me of Western-style BBQ and creosote more than smoke. There’s peach and apricot in there as well.

After airing out my hooch I open the 3Wood, and the difference is noticeable. A nice aroma, but it doesn’t grab the room. The Triple Wood nose: smoke, phenols, sherry, earthy peat, some smoke and fruit notes along with some toffee. It does not have the heft you find in the Lore, though it has a nice spiced holiday cake thing going.

I did a quick head-to-head with the 10 as well. Not much difference in color but a big difference in flavor.

With a sip, the Lore unleashes! Unlike the Octomore where the smoke grew on you, the Lore delivers an instant bloom of smoke; it comes in a rush, along with dark cherry, toffee, golden syrup, white and black pepper and very gentle tannins cleaning up. Perfect balance. The finish goes on and on, smoky, ashy, aromatic phenols, spicy white pepper, cherry brandy. Very long and pleasing.

In comparison, the 3Wood’s palate has smoke and honey. It is smooth and tasty, with caramel and toasted marshmallow but more tannins than spice. As I mentioned in my review, it needs a drop of water to mellow the bitterness. A clear win for the Lore here and the same with the finish, which is not bad with the 3Wood. But the Lore is more aromatic, has more smoke than the mostly ashy finish of the 3Wood—which I do like. Its a difference, bonfire vs. cigar.

I’d say the Lore’s closest competitor in overall flavor delivery is Ardbeg’s Correyvreckan, which delivers its punch with 57% ABV. The Lore is as complex a dram, delivers its payload very smoothly (no need to add water) and it’s finish is as delightful as the Correvreckan’s spicy, phenolic toffee.

Laphroaig Lore, Islay Single Malt, 48% ABV

Nose: Old whisky in this nose: leathery, dark sherry and subtle phenolics. Smoky like a Western-style BBQ, creosote and tar; peach and apricot round out a very broad aroma.
Palate: Gorgeous smoke instantly blossoms over the palate. It is accompanied by dark cherry, toffee, golden syrup, white and black pepper and very gentle tannins to a perfect balance.
Finish: Very long: smoky, ashy, with aromatic phenols, spicy white pepper and cherry brandy.

Bottom Line: In truth, the Lore has to be good, as it has a serious price tag ($124 in OR) to go with it’s serious taste. It’s competing with the 90-dollar ranged Triple Wood and Ardbeg Corryvreckan, and it comes out on top, as it should. Laphroaig make bold claims about this dram, like whiskies up to 21 years in this vatting, and I believe it. The Lore really has that ‘old whisky’ mojo. No other whisky but the Octomore has filled my little nook with so much flavor. That’s great company to be in.

They say it’s rich, and they’re right. A smoky bomb of flavor.

Author: H.W. MacNaughton

Technologist and communicator. Into technology, jazz, Formula One, sci-fi and any good writing about real stuff.

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