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Monday 11 May 2009

The Royal Choice

As part of one of my various day jobs (Jack of all trades, master of none) I was asked to write a piece on 'Drinks with Royal Patronage'. Great- where do I start, I wondered? Clearly the Royal family have always liked their booze (Princess Anne and the indefatigable Queen Mum were HUGE fans of a rather potent cocktail- Dubonnet and gin)
But look back further and the Royal Warrant has been a life blood for many of our most resilient and well known drinks brands. It was a seal of quality, respected the world over and usually reflected Britain at its very best.

Today there are over 800 Royal Warrants (look closely and you'll notice the various 'crests' adorning plenty of household names) and over 30 specifically supporting alcoholic drinks from gins, wines, ports, sherry and... of course... whisky.

Laphroaig has been supported by the Prince Of Wales since 1994, when he visited Islay, nearly crashed his plane on the blustery runway and stayed a little longer than expected. Some would say it was fate...He fell in love with the 15 year old and never looked back. Examine any bottle of Laphroaig and you'll see the classic '3 feathers' logo of the Prince.

Which brings me nicely onto their newest bottling- the 18 year old.

I must confess that I did not share the Prince's affection with the now discontinued 15 year old, which seemed to confuse as to its real identity- it was neither peaty, nor subtle enough to get me excited, in the same way perhaps as the Quarter Cask. Will this new expression be the new pretender to the peated throne, or lose its head in the Tower?? One shalt now find out....

Laphroaig 18 year old - 48% - 70cl

Nose: A lovely waft of soft peat, which, if you read our previous posts, is something we're mad keen for. But there is something else- red apple, chocolate covered fudge and dig deeper, a heady waft of Carbolic soap. Definitely more characterful than the 15 year old at this point.

Palate: Lots of coal/oil and more than a passing resemblance to our new favourite Islay malt- Caol Ila. Quite salty and coastal notes are noticeable at first but then a sweet fizzy sherbet note comes through, with more of that chocolate fudge. There's very little of the more medicinal notes you find with the younger expressions of Laphroaig.

Finish: More Carbolic notes lead into a long and pronounced salty finish.

Overall: A dram which doesn't wear its medicinal heart on its sleeve, but certainly has more than enough to make this a real contender in the older peated malts market. We have recently put this up against the Talisker 18 and our beloved Lagavulin 16 and it faired superbly well.

I wonder what the Prince will make of it? well, 'One thinks that it will show splendidly, what what....!'