Is Laphroaig Good? A Detailed Look at 9 of Their Whiskies

Laphroaig produces popular Islay whiskies well known for being peat powerhouses, but I wanted to see for myself whether these whiskies are any good. Who doesn’t like an experiment where drinking whisky is involved?

Laphroaig whiskies are good if you enjoy a smoky, peaty, seaweed profile. I would recommend the Laphroaig 10 Year Old (both the 43%ABV and the Cask Strength) if you like a delicious peat monster, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask if you prefer some sweetness mixed in, and the Laphroaig Select if you want a more gentle introduction to peated Islay whiskies.

There are about 16 different Laphroaig whiskies, although if you count all the various releases and the discontinued bottlings there are many more. I examined nine Laphroaig whiskies leaving out those that are super expensive and those that are only available to the travel market or exclusively to Friends of Laphroaig.

4 bottles of Laphroaig - the Quarter Cask, the 10, the 10 Cask Strength & the Select

How I Determined Whether Laphroaig Whiskies Are Good

I didn’t want to present just my own personal opinion about these whiskies but rather a more general consensus, so I gathered a team of experts (translation: anyone who would help me with this project and who knows a thing or two about whisky) and amalgamated all our tasting notes. I left out those aromas and flavors that were found by only one person and focused on those experienced by more than one member of the group. Descriptors that appear earlier in the coming lists were detected by more people.

Everyone scored each whisky out of 100 and I calculated the average.

The notes after each table are my summary of the general consensus unless otherwise indicated.

While there was some disagreement, the combined results present a pretty clear picture of these whiskies.

Here’s what we found:

Laphroaig 10 Year Old

  • 43%ABV
  • Price: $59.99 approx. for 750ml

This is the original Laphroaig whisky and the foundation of the entire Laphroaig range. It’s made from malted barley that’s dried over a fire fueled from peat found only on Islay. This is what gives Laphroaig whiskies their distinct smoky, peaty, seaweed profile. There are two bottlings of the 10 Year Old Laphroaig, one at 43%ABV for the US market and one at 40% ABV for the UK market. We sampled the former.

ColorDark gold
NoseBand aids, vanilla, peat, smoked meat, smoke, salt sea spray, oak, lemon, burnt rubber, seaweed, sugar, iodine, brine, tar, caramel
TasteSmoke, vanilla, peat, brine, salt, lemon, seaweed, smoked meat, tar, seawater, spicy oak
FinishMedium – Long: Smoke, vanilla, peat, lemon, brine
Average Score – 85

The Laphroaig 10 is an intense and delicious whisky with a lot of strong flavors, depth and complexity. It’s great on the nose, smooth on the palate with a medium, oily mouthfeel and it’s lingering on the finish. It’s nicely balanced and not too medicinal. It’s powerful despite being only 43%ABV, although that’s probably what makes the finish shorter than it could be and therefore not as good as the cask strength expression – see the next whisky.

It’s a tasty yet easy drinking peat monster so a great whisky – assuming of course, that you like the smoky, peaty, seaweed taste. And when you take the price into account, it’s great value for money. You can buy the 43%ABV bottling hereOpens in a new tab..

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength – Batch 12

  • 60.1%ABV
  • Price: $86.76 approx. for 700ml

Laphroaig releases it’s 10 Year Old whisky at cask strength. There have been (and presumably there will continue to be) several batches and we tried the 12th which is bottled at 60.1%. Since it stands to reason that a delicious whisky bottled at cask strength should be even better, we had high hopes.

ColorDark gold
NoseSmoke, sweet, vanilla, ash, fruit, medicinal, seaweed, tar, floral, peat, sea salt, band aids, campfire, spice, caramel
TasteSweet, fruit, lemon, peat, smoke, vanilla, oak, maritime, saltwater, syrup
FinishLong: Smoke, sweet, medicinal, dry, sea salt, herbs
Average Score – 89

And our high hopes were met.

The Laphroaig 10 is without doubt even better at cask strength. The higher alcohol level vastly enhances the flavors but doesn’t make this whisky burn. The whisky is full-bodied with an oily and thick mouthfeel. It’s sweet with lots of the usual Laphroaig peat, smoke and ash notes but they’re not so dominant that the other notes of fruit and vanilla are lost.

A powerful, complex, whisky that’s packed with delicious flavors.

Whether or not the other batches are / will be as good as this one remains to be seen, but it’s reasonable to assume that like this one, they will also be an improvement on an already delicious whisky.

You can buy a bottle of Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength – Batch 12 hereOpens in a new tab..

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

  • 48% ABV
  • Price: $69.99 approx. for 750ml

This Laphroaig expression is matured both in standard sized barrels and quarter casks so that the increased contact with the wood of the smaller barrels will give the usual Laphroaig peaty profile a soft and velvet edge.

ColorGolden, amber
NosePeat, iodine, smoke, vanilla, campfire, raisins, oak, saltwater, ash, brine, salty sea air, medicinal, charcoal, grass, citrus rind, fruit
TasteSmoke, brine, oak, vanilla, peat, spices, campfire smoke, iodine, caramel, cinnamon, black pepper, seal salt, tobacco, citrus, seawater, ginger, ash
FinishLong: Smoke, peat, oak, iodine, wood, peppermint, dry, salt, spice, tobacco
Average Score – 89

This whisky is medium bodied with a buttery and creamy mouthfeel, bold and strong flavors and a delicious taste. Despite it being 48%ABV there’s not much alcohol burn and although this is a no age statement whisky it feels a lot older and more mature than the 10.

The quarter casks do seem to have done their job. The smoke, peat and iodine are much more restrained in this expression which creates a good balance between the usual Laphroaig notes and the oak and vanilla elements, so that it tastes like a sweeter version of the 10.

If you prefer a sweeter whisky where the classical Laphroaig notes aren’t as dominant but nonetheless present, then this whisky is worth the small increase in price. You can buy a bottle hereOpens in a new tab..

3 bottles of Laphroaig - the Triple Wood, the Càirdeas Port & Wine & the Lore

Laphroaig Triple Wood

  • 48% ABV
  • Price: $76.99 approx. for 750ml

The Triple Wood is an extension of the Quarter Cask because it’s matured three times and not two. It’s first matured in ex-bourbon barrels, then in quarter casks and finally in European oak casks previously used to hold Oloroso sherry. This is done in order to blend the classical Laphroaig profile with the softer notes of fruit and spices, and sherry sweetness.

ColorGold, amber
NosePeat, sherry, smoke, honey, caramel, chocolate, medicinal, brine, berries, wood, oak, tar, vanilla, ash, salt, dark fruits, strawberry, green apples, pepper, seaweed
TastePeat, smoke, caramel, vanilla, sherry, fruits, smoked honey, iodine, malt, pepper, brine, oak, moss, berries, chocolate
FinishLong: Peat, smoke, pepper, dry, bonfire, lemon, tar
Average Score – 81

The Triple Wood is classic Laphroaig that’s somewhat muted due to oak and vanilla elements from the quarter casks and sherry sweetness from the Oloroso barrels. The sherry is not overpowering but rather adds interesting and complex notes to the Laphroaig character to create a solid and enjoyable whisky with some unique flavors.

Once again, it has a medium and oily mouthfeel with not too much alcohol burn despite the 48%ABV and like the Quarter Cask seems more advanced and mature for its fairly young age.

Most of us preferred the Quarter Cask or the 10 to this, although if you drink sherry as well as Laphroaig, you’re quite likely to enjoy this peat and sherry combination.

You can buy a bottle of Laphroaig Triple Wood hereOpens in a new tab..

Laphroaig Select

  • 40% ABV
  • Price: $51.99 approx. for 750ml

Laphroaig Select is created using select whiskies (ah now it all makes sense) from the Laphroaig range – the 10 Year Old, the Quarter Cast, the Triple Wood and the PX Cask (which is similar to the Triple Wood, only its third period of maturation is in large European oak casks which originally contained Pedro Ximénez sherry – hence the PX).

NosePeat, smoke, brine, vanilla, spice, honey, rubber, apple, pear, citrus, ash, malt, medicinal
TastePeat, earth, fruit, smoke, rubber, vanilla, caramel, medicinal, iodine, sherry, honey, oak, cream
FinishShort: Lime, anise, pepper, peat, oak, vanilla, ash
Average Score – 73

This is certainly a nice and enjoyable whisky. It’s easy on the palate and while not super complex, flavors from the different casks come through and the result is a fairly balanced blend of peat, smoke and sherry sweetness.

The problem is that for a Laphroaig it’s rather tame. The mouthfeel is light and thin, the finish is too short, it’s not as smooth or complex as other whiskies in the range and although the classic notes of peat and smoke are still present, they’re very much muted. This is all presumably due to the low ABV, and the influence from all the whiskies used to create the Select diluting the Laphroaig profile.

So if you’re looking for the strong peat and smoke notes of a Laphroaig whisky you’ll probably be disappointed with the Select and although this is the cheapest Laphroaig whisky, you’d be better off spending a bit more on the 10 or the Quarter Cask. On the other hand, since it is an enjoyable whisky, the fact that it’s toned-down makes it a great introduction to peated Islay whiskies for those who don’t want to go straight to a peat monster. Which may be the reason why Laphroaig created this whisky in the first place.

You can buy a bottle of Laphroaig Select hereOpens in a new tab..

Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine

  • 52% ABV
  • Price: $104.99 approx. for 750ml

Each year Laphroaig releases an expression that marries whisky double matured in ex-Bourbon barrels and in ex-red wine casks, with whisky double matured in ex-Bourbon barrels and second fill Ruby Port barrels. It’s a limited edition made to celebrate the Friends of Laphroaig (friendship in Gaelic is Càirdeas). We tried the 2020 release.

ColorAmber, gold
NosePeat, wine, strawberry, vanilla, cherry, honey, smoke, iodine, chocolate, fruit, berries, plum, spice, brown sugar, medicinal, cinnamon
TastePeat, ash, medicinal, fruit, strawberry, smoke, wine, marmalade, caramel, berry, wood
FinishLong: Peat, fruit, smoke, cherry, ashy campfire, medicinal, wine, salt
Average Score – 83

This is a delicious whisky despite a little alcohol burn (the ABV is higher than usual). It has a thick mouthfeel with an incredible amount of sweetness from the Ruby Port barrels and fruit / wine notes from the ex-red wine barrels mixing with the classic Laphroaig peat notes. The peat, port and fruity wine balance together extremely well to create a very strong and tasty whisky.

Whether other releases are / will be as good as this one remains to be seen but based on this expression, I would guess that they would all be worth a try.

You can buy one of the Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine releases hereOpens in a new tab..

Laphroaig Lore

  • 48% ABV
  • Price: $99.99 approx. for 750ml

Laphroaig Lore is created using whiskies ranging from 7 to 21 years old that have been matured in a combination of five different casks – first-fill bourbon, American oak refill, virgin European oak, quarter casks and first-fill Oloroso sherry.

NoseIodine, vanilla, peat, oak, fruit, earth, ash
TastePeat, fruit, smoke, meat, vanilla, cocoa, spiced fruit cake, oak, pepper, iodine, sugar, chocolate, orange
FinishMedium – long: Peat, oak, chocolate, burnt match, pepper, vanilla, salt, spice, fruit
Average Score – 84

On the whole this is a great whisky. It’s delicious, light, considering the ABV, it has a nice oily mouthfeel, it’s full bodied, it’s very smooth and it’s complex, and all the different elements from the various casks are well balanced. Once again this does mean that the classical Laphroaig character is subdued and doesn’t dominate the whisky, so if you’re looking for a peat powerhouse this won’t be it.

Also, it’s somewhat pricey for what it is so it’s not necessarily value for money, but if price is not a factor for you and you want to try another delicious Laphroaig whisky then you can buy a bottle hereOpens in a new tab..

2 bottles of Laphroaig - the 16 & the 25

Laphroaig 16 Year Old

  • 48% ABV
  • Price: $249.99 approx. for 750ml

Laphroaig whisky matured for 16 years in ex-Bourbon barrels.

ColorBrassy, gold
NoseVanilla, peat, smoke, salted pork, brine, citrus, charcoal, herbs, black pepper, lemon, fruit, spice
TasteSalt, pepper, smoke, citrus, peat, vanilla, malt, spice, antiseptic, toffee, lemon
FinishMedium – long: Smoke, pepper, dry, vanilla, honey, spice, lemon, chocolate
            Average Score – 85

This is a pleasant and typical Laphroaig whisky and while it’s certainly a nicer version of the 10 with more depth and richness, it seems that the extra six years make it a bit more mellow as the classical Laphroaig notes are toned down when compared to the 10 or the Quarter Cask.

Additionally, it doesn’t have the depth or complexity you’d expect from a Laphroaig of this age. It’s not really a standout whisky which becomes more of a problem when you consider the price tag.

Nonetheless it’s a solid and easygoing peated whisky and if price is not a factor for you and you want to try a more mellow Laphroaig you can buy a bottle of the 16 hereOpens in a new tab..

Laphroaig 25 Year Old Cask Strength – 2019 Edition

  • 51.4% ABV
  • Price: $394.95 approx. for 700ml

This Laphroaig is aged for 25 years in both American white oak bourbon barrels and second fill European Oak Oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at cask strength. We sampled the expression released in 2019.

NoseSmoke, peat, vanilla, fruit, pears, honey,
TasteSmoke, fruit, apricots, honey, vanilla, peat, saline
FinishLong: Smoke, fruit
Average Score – 90

The Laphroaig 25 has a full round body with a warm oily feel. It’s soft and smooth, drinkable, complex and well balanced. Islay whiskies can lose their peaty smokiness over the years, but this one seems to have gained some that come through peaty and smoky.

It’s a great whisky and worth the price … if you can afford a whisky at that price. Whether the Laphroaig 25 of other years are / will be as good as this one remains to be seen but it stands to reason that they’ll at least be in the ballpark.

You can buy a bottle of Laphroaig 25 Year Old Cask Strength – 2019 Edition hereOpens in a new tab..

Josh Mitchell

I'm Josh Mitchell. I love whiskey and am working on increasing my whiskey tasting abilities and my collection.

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