Just like the latest Black Bowmore, this one is a vatting of five oloroso sherry casks.
Colour: deep amber with brownish hues.
Nose: a magnificent sherry and peat combo! Exceptional tarry notes, ‘good’ sulphur (no cooked eggs), very beefy as well, developing on an amazing number of aromas coming out in waves. At random, we have superb camphory and resinous notes, sea water and seaweed, fresh mint and verbena, soy and plum sauces, coffee and toffee, slightly burnt caramel, brandy-soaked prunes, oranges, hints of hare belly or well-hung pheasant, caramelised wine sauce, hints of old rancio, strong Dutch liquorice, chocolate... Yes, what a bunch. Truly exceptional to be honest. And god knows I’d have loved to be able to bash this one because of its insane price... No luck, it is exceptional indeed, even if it wanes a wee bit after fifteen minutes or so.
Mouth: what a big, fat, oily, hugely concentrated attack! Did they cook it for hours or what? Amazingly thick indeed, yet not inelegant at all, all on bitter chocolate, prunes and peat (no big bold peat, that is), with also loads of spices starting to storm your palate. Cinnamon, cloves, heavy liquorice, paprika... Also espresso coffee, armagnac (I know people who would think this is a great old cask strength armagnac). Some kinds of ‘tannins’ like in unstemmed grape brandy, certainly pleasant here even if they are quite drying. Grape pips. Orange liqueur. Again, how, fat, how thick, how bold!
Finish: long, very drying but not unpleasantly so, mostly on something like orange liqueur in which you’d have let liquorice and all kinds of roots infuse. Maybe even ginseng. Oh, and there’s quite some old plum brandy in the aftertaste... Well, this is not for everyone, and it’s not only because of its frankly over the top price tag (around 680 euros – no typo). I found the 1974 from two years ago to be better balanced and more elegant, but this incredible Hulk of a Laphroaig sure is a great sherried Islayer. But again, you really have to like your whisky black. No wonder they chose an unusual (and very Cadenheadian) black label for it. 92 points.