fredag 21 februari 2014

Tasting the three travel retail exclusive Laphroaigs – QA Cask, An Cuan Mór and PX Cask

Yay it’s finally Friday! To celebrate I thought I might put the three travel retail exclusive Laphroaigs head to head in a little line-up. The three travel retail Laphroaigs are: 

’QA Cask’ was released in 2012 and holds 40% ABV. It has had it’s first maturation is in ex-bourbon barrels and then a final maturation in (new?) charred American white oak casks, there of the name QA (of course meaning Quercus Alba). I don’t know the age. It goes for arond €48 for a litre bottle.

’An Cuan Mór’ was released in 2013 and holds 48% ABV. The name means ”The big ocean”. It has first been matured in firstfill bourbon barrels and then transfered for a final maturation in European Oak (which I interpret as oloroso sherry butts). The age is around 8-9 years old and goes for around €95 for a 70cl bottle.

’PX Cask’ was released in 2012 and holds 48% ABV. The PX Cask is sort of a version of the Laphroaig Triple wood but instead of final maturation in oloroso sherry butts it has had a final maturation in Pedro Ximinez sherry casks. Hence the maturation as follows: first first-fill bourbon barrels, then quarter casks (around 125 litres bourbon barrels) and then finally matured in PX casks. The age is between 6-12 years old and it goes for around €60 for a litre bottle.  

Big thanks to Jennie for the An Cuan Mór sample, and a big thanks to Dani at Edrington for the PX ”sample”. The QA was a gift from the family. Ok let’s try them!         

QA Nose:
Starts of on a mix of very soft peat and vanilla, pear, also there is a hint of wet burnt wood. Quite simple but nice nose. Slightly ”watery”. Sadly I don’t have the standard ten year old as a reference but I’d say this is very in the classic style of Laphroaig. 

An Cuan Mór Nose:
Hmm… Interesting! Some notes I’ve never felt in a Laphroaig before! Adding to all the elements from the QA (except the watery-ness), and compared to the QA, which I feel is very classic, at least on the nose, this one is sort of more focused, perhaps a little closed, but there is also some ”metallic” notes, maybe Iron and saltiness, but mostly this one definitely has more wood/oak influence, not more on the vanilla though but rather more on the darker notes. There is also in the distant something very close to dark raisins but I would’nt say this one has a in general ”sherried” nose. Also marzipan and something perfumy… Quite complex actually, this will be exciting to taste! 

PX Nose:
Mmm, the nose of the PX is definitely complex on another level, compared to both of the previous. No wonder since the three types of casks. This one has more of the heavy, dark layers. Dark, what seems as almost dry-ish raisins, dried figs, salty-ness, almost roasted salted almonds (or am I just getting hungry?) This one also has a really big peat with a stronger character than the previous two! Oooh, my mouth waters, let’s taste them!

QA Palate:  
Initially there is peat, but not sweet and not salt, just peat. Wait… here comes the sweetness, mostly on vanilla. Then we have a little bit of the wet burnt wood that was there on the nose, almost a little ashy… Then comes just a little bit of dryness, a little herby… A little ”thin” on the palate but not watery, not at all. I thought this one would have more of wood/oakyness/power due to it’s final maturation in (new?) charred casks, but no… Also let’s keep in mind the 40% ABV

An Cuan Mór Palate:
Mmm! Oh wow, that was powerful! Besides the power from the higher alcohol of course, there is a really oaky power here. Wonderful! I would’nt say that there is very much of classic european (sherry) oak flavours but rather something like ”forest flavours” and most of all, MORE PEAT! Of course it’s darker in style than the QA but there is also more salty-ness, more dryness and it really clings on to my palate, the tounge itself. Some very citric apple-cider, almost sparkling flavours swishes by in not more than half a second… This is an exciting palate for sure!

PX Palate
Mmm! This is such a good whisky! It really starts of on the sherry influence, it’s there right away. The balance between peat and sherry is perfect. Quite sweet in the beginning, mostly on sugar-coated dark raisins, dried figs and then quite fast comes a very nice dryness, that as in the An Cuan Mór REALLY clings on to the tounge… It calms down after say two to three seconds, really opens up in my mouth, lighter flavours appear, there is pear, vanilla and a soft sting from the alcohol. The journey of flavours in this one is beautiful and it’s hard to capture them all… That was a great job, well done! 

To sum up:
For me the PX is definitely the winner and I felt that right away when the first drops hit my tounge. You can also tell, not just by knowing the age but by flavour, that the PX is the most complex and mature out of the three. But I suppose it’s all a matter of if you like an emphasis on the bourbon flavours and power, then I’d go for the An Cuan Mór, but if you like a sherried style Laphroaig then go for the PX. In my humble opinion, from memory, the PX is also better than the ’Triple Wood’ but I think I may have to compare them to be sure… 

Slainthé and thanks for taking part of my tasting notes! P.S If you are on Facebook please like the page for my blog here 

QA Cask - An Cuan Mór - PX Cask

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