Well I suppose we should touch on that pronunciation before we dive in — it’s “La Froyg” (or at least that seems to be the consensus amongst non Gaelic-speakers). It’s also “The most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies” — or so boasts the slogan for Laphroaig 10 — a bold claim for the 43% ABV dram indeed, especially given this Islay shares its home island with Lagavulin. But anyone who’s had a sip of Laphroaig knows, while contestable, the “rich flavour” of the 10 year old deserves more than a little consideration.

Sipping it now as I write this, I am strongly hit with nostalgia for the last time I enjoyed a dram of Laphroaig, on the day my good buddy Mark got married. One of the other groomsmen generously supplied the bottle, and the wedding party got to sip it slow before the ceremony.

I consider this a mark of character in a whisky – if I can fully associate it with a specific moment, it means it has enough unique characteristics to stand out alongside a number of other smoky scotches I’ve had before. Laphroaig 10 has its own thing going on, no doubt. But what does it taste like?

Laphroaig 10 Scotch Review

If you read the word “Islay” above you probably already have some preconcieved notions about this whisky. For one, you probably think this is a big peat-smoked fella’ and you’d be absolutely correct. One disgruntled LCBO review compares it to the odour of burning rubber, though I’d have to politely but firmly disagree with that characterization. Definitely more like bandaids.

In fact, I actually think Laphroaig 10 is one of the more reserved and approachable Islays out there, and I love it for that. It pours a deep gold, looking every year (and more — likely colouring) of its decade. The nose is big and burly, but lest chokingly acrid than, say, Lagavulin 16 which I tend to take with a bit of water. Laphroaig 10 brings intense iodine and peat smoke but also a lovely lemon-sucker sweetness, and just a kiss of the ocean to round things out.

The taste is more of what you (probably) love. Carried by the medium-heavy body, first through the door is that smoke, but it’s met with a hug by a pretty substantial brown-sugar sweetness. I think in a less potent dram I’d find it too sweet, but here it feels very well balanced. The first-aid kit notes play well in the sandbox and lend a welcome complexity.

Last to join the party is that candied lemon — it really does taste like lemons preserved in sugar, or rather the syrup from them. The finish reveals more of the ocean-brine notes, with a lip smacking saltiness, the iodine, and plenty of that sweetness lasting for a looong time.

So is Laphroaig 10 “The most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies”? No (I have some cask strength bottles I’d like it to meet). But it is damn good, really damn good, and I might actually give it the controversial nod over Lagavulin 16 (personal preference). If you’re trying to branch out into the genuinely smokey category of Scotches, I think Laphroaig 10 is a great place to start.


Final Verdict

Laphroaig might be aptly described as smelling like burning bandages, but it brings ample sweetness and complexity to make it a delightful dram.