Reviews: Laphroaig 10 @ 40% & 43% ABV

I first reviewed Laphroaig 10 way back in my 49th review about 2.5yrs ago while at a company outing and gave it a 91. Granted, this was after a few drinks, so probably not the most reliable of reviews. When I visited Islay last June with my wife, we went to Laphroaig, and claimed the rent for our square foot of land in their peat bogs. When I got home, we saw that the mini bottle they gave was bottled at 40% ABV, while the bottle on my shelf was 43%. So today, as I drain both bottles, we’re gonna do a quick comparison of the two, side by side to see if that 3% makes any significant difference. My assumption going in is there will be very little difference between the two.

Whisky: Laphroaig 10 @ 40% Laphroaig 10 @ 43%
Appearance interestingly, the 40% is the slightest bit more orange. Pretty sure Laphroaig uses e150, so I’m surprised at the variation. fairly pale yellow-gold
Nose smoke, smoked meat, salt, light campfire, ash, coal, earthy peat, medicinal medicinal, iodine, smoke, brine, light smoke, sweeter peat.
Palate ashy, campfire, doused coals, smoke, peat, iodine, thin mouthfeel, smoked meat bandaids, iodine, smoke, boggy peat, light smoke, slight sweetness, some ash, slightly less thin mouthfeel
Finish medium-long, smoky medium-long, medicinal, iodine, smoke
Score 84 86

I’m surprised at how different they turned out to be, and definitely didn’t think would be the case. While they hit a lot of the same tasting notes, the emphases of the two were very different, with the 40% being basically a smoke bomb and the second an iodine bomb. This difference showed up on the nose, palate and finish consistently.

Overall, I did prefer the 43% as it was more complex and had a better mouthfeel. I still scored it quite a bit lower than when I first reviewed this whisky 2.5yrs ago, but that’s probably more about my standards having been raised since then vs. a drop in quality. Big fan of this, though I still prefer the quarter cask to both versions of the 10.

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