Laphroaig An Cuan Mor (Travel Retail)
48% ABV, £70 for 70cl
What they say:
Translated as Big Ocean, this unique expression is a celebration of the art of Laphroaig, with only the best batches hand selected by our distillery manager for their exceptional flavour. All have been matured in first-fill-only ex-American white oak bourbon barrels in our warehouse right next to the Atlantic. This whisky is then carefully re-casked and left to sleep in the finest European oak. The result is an extraordinary fusion of flavours, from our unmistakable medicinal peat, to the soft and spicy caramel tones of the American wood, to the big, rich “burnt apricot and raisin” of the European oak. Finally bottled and non chill-filtered, the distillery manager’s selected batches are marked with his signature. Anything that can withstand the Atlantic for 200 years deserves a little recognition.
Currently only available in Travel Retail.
COLOUR: Burnt Orange
NOSE: Starting with rich sweetness of figs, moving into a floral flavour of lavender and black pepper developing into sweet natural honey notes
BODY: An intense and profound depth
PALATE: Very peppery, spicy also liquorice root with a slight saltiness. Moving to gentle oak tannins, lovely orange peel and then a dry earthiness
FINISH: Lovely creamy walnuts enveloped by the very distinct Laphroaig peatiness that lasts and lasts
What I say:
I purchased one of the 615 bottles of An Cuan Mor released to the Friends of Laphroaig (FoL) as this is essentially 18 Years Old Laphroaig that has then been finished in European Oak casks. Tasting notes were unavailable at the time of purchase so I went with my gut instinct and a little bit of luck and managed to snag one of these.
Rosy orange gold
This has all the phenol and ester scents of peat smoke and sweetness. There are hints of something industrial in here, perhaps a whiff of petrol and hospital TCP antiseptic [originally based on halogenated phenols such as trichlorophenylmethyliodosalicyl or 2,4,6, trichlorophenol]. Nosing this deeper the initial peat is overridden by a fig and molasses sweetness
Ouch! this goes from cayenne pepper to scotch bonnet chilli heat with a little sulphuric fireworks, this peaks and suddenly a jammy black cherry fruit [e.g. confit cerise noir avec piemonte] and caramelised sugar come through with sparks of iodine and iron filings subdue into a thick and oily treacle toffee with earthy, meaty & savoury qualities.
The finish is very very smooth, sweet and medicinal with germolene, the faintest wisp of honey barbecue smoke and salted peanut [or honey dry-roasted peanut?], becomes very cleansing with refreshing salt spray and then as with all other Laphroaigs I’ve tried, this lingers for hours with oaky and peat smoke reflux.
Would I buy it again:
Absolutely! The subtlety and smoothness of the finish, the complexity of this in the mouth and the fire with which it starts combine to make this a pretty spectacular dram. I haven’t tasted a Laphroaig that packs in so much, yet finishes so smoothly. This is definitely an after-dinner whisky or one for the long cold winter nights, this doesn’t have the jam-packed fruitiness like the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013 ‘Port wood edition’ or Ardbeg Uigeadail, it is much more refined than that and generates its sweetness almost totally from a burnt sugar quality in the flavour. The An Cuan Mor packs in just as much smoke and if you can stand the heat at the beginning is definitely a dram I could keep refilling my glass with. Rather than burning away your tastebuds, this whisky tickles every last one individually then gently waxes and wafts away leaving them begging for more. Even writing about this whisky has me salivating at its memory!