More than 200 years after it began distilling whisky on the south coast of Islay, Laphroaig is releasing what the distillery claims to be its “richest” expression yet: Lore. With no age statement on the bottle, Lore is presented as a culmination of Laphroaig’s distilling history. As such, it is a blend of different Scotches from Laphroaig’s past and present portfolio.
Unsurprisingly, some of the whisky that makes its way into the new expression is aged in ex-bourbon barrels; Laphroaig’s flagship recipe, created in the 1920s, was among the first in Scotland to utilize bourbon barrels from the States, according to the distillery. Other whiskies in Lore include those aged in Oloroso sherry butts (the same barrels used in the Triple Wood and 25 Year Old expressions) and smaller quarter casks, like with the Quarter Cask expression, which increases the liquid’s overall exposure to wood. Most unique about Lore, however, is that part of the blend is aged in virgin European oak, promising a heavy-handed dose of seasoning and woody notes.
Lore launches this weekend with a suggested retail of $125 and will remain a part of Laphroaig’s permanent portfolio. Below, Gear Patrol‘s Travel and Eats Desk weighs in with an early taste.
Jeremy Berger, Senior Editor: It’s less fiery and brash than their 10 Year, which is my usual order. Still smoky as hell, but sweeter, rounder and deeper — sure, richer. It feels accessible but still complex. It kind of reminds me of Lagavulin 16.
Tucker Bowe, Staff: If you’re not a “Scotch guy,” you’ll still appreciate Lore. That’s because it’s approachable. There’s a syrup-like sweetness on the nose with a sharp bite and quick, tobacco-y finish.
Jack Seemer, Staff: It’s much more tame than I expected — especially considering the virgin oak. The peat is present, but it doesn’t center around Laphroaig’s smoky reputation. It’s soft, smooth and savory, with very little bite. Bold? No. Rich? Yes. Would highly recommend.
J. Travis Smith, Staff: I’m not a fan of the name, nor do I enjoy “backstories” of distilleries, but Laphroaig has created something that was missing in their collection before. It has the traditional peat-heavy taste of Laphroaig, but this is smoothed out by age and the virgin casks, which lend oak, and the ex-sherry, which adds some cherry and dark fruit, helps to accompany the peat flavor in a way that gives balance, rather than rubbing your face in bold flavors. Call it a win, but at $125, not an everyday win.