Laphroaig ‘Brodir’ (48%, OB, for Travel Retail, L8239, 2018)

We can now conclude our Laphroaig Travel Retail Trilogy with a rather recent batch of the Laphroaig ‘Brodir’. ‘Brodir’ looks more like a Laphroaig we know so well with its pristine white label and black lettering, but this time with a big fat bordeaux colored band on it. ‘Brodir’, not unlike other bottlings, starts its life in ex-Bourbon barrels and is finished in Port pipes made of European oak. Beforehand this seemed to me to be the one of the Travel retail Trilogy to be the safest bet buying a whole bottle of. The ‘Cairdeas’ from 2013 (also a Port finish), as well as previous batches of Brodir, gained a lot of fans.

If I’m not mistaken, the first ‘Brodir’ that saw the light of day was the one bottled for Viking Line in 2012. The next try was the 2013 ‘Cairdeas’ already mentioned, although ‘Brodir’ was not on the label since ‘Cairdeas’ already was. In 2014 ‘Brodir’ Batch 001 surfaced, Batch 002 in 2015 and since 2016, no batchnumbers were given. Odd, since, batchnumbers are pretty popular with the 10yo ‘Cask Strength’ versions, but there probably is a reason for this.

Color: Orange gold with a reddish hue.

Nose: Some peat but way more smoky than it is peaty. Right from the start a bit harsh. Winey and industrial. Very smoky indeed yet also a breath of sharp and fresh sea air. Ever been under water too long? Remember the moment you sniffed up some water right before coming up a bit too late. Well, this smells like that to me. Like breathing in water. Metallic. Hints of licorice. Italian laurel licorice. Warm log fire. Smoked mackerel. A harbour with some motor oil floating on top. The Port seems well integrated and used with taste. After it had some time to breathe, this develops a more perfumy edge to it.

I can’t help but feel that even though the Port did it’s work, this shares some common ground with the 10yo ‘Cask Strength’.

Taste: Starts with smoke and almonds. Ash tray. A bit raw. Meaty maybe. Burnt paper, ashes, bitter licorice. Hints of vanilla way back. Coal and steam. Plastic and rubber. Not bad. Although a NAS bottling, in no way does it come across as too young. It has quite some complexity, and seems to be a nice version of Laphroaig. A sort of Industrial Revolution version of Laphroaig. The licorice turns sweet a bit. The sweetness, which doesn’t reach ‘Lore’ levels, adheres to the smoke and to a lesser intent, the peat. It doesn’t taste like Port sweetness. But then again, this doesn’t feel very “Porty” to me.

Personally ‘Lore’ is an all-right yet a-typical Laphroaig. The ‘1815 Legacy Edition’ turned out to be quite a surprise, after all the on-line negativity. Since I liked ‘An Cuan Mor’, I expected a weakened or ruined version of the ‘An Cuan More’, but au contriare. So very nice it is, and worth the reduced price it is sold for today. The original price, which most markets still have, is a bit too much compared to the competition. Finally here we have this ‘Brodir’. A Laphroaig that feels like having some proper Laphroaig under the bonnet, just differs on the outside. ‘Brodir’ is nothing to scoff about even though the first batches are said to be better. There are many aspects I like, so I’ll remember this one fondly. In the end I guess I may have liked the ‘The 1815 Legacy Edition’ best, but this one is hot on it’s heels, and sometimes I feel it might be even better. If you try these Whiskies in the order published, all goes well, however for me the ‘1815’ is lost when tasted after ‘Brodir’ making the ‘Brodir’ the bigger Whisky. I’m not even trying the ‘Lore’ after ‘Brodir’.

Points: 86

The Balvenie 21yo “Portwood” (40%, OB, Circa 2013)

A long time ago, as I got interested in Single Malt Whisky I always wanted to really like Balvenie. There was some nice variations of Balvenies around, even from independent bottlers like Cadenheads, and the bottles looked so nice. Uniform and beautiful. 10yo Founders Reserve, 12yo Double Wood, 15yo Single Cask, 17yo Islay Cask, 21yo Port Wood and the 25yo Single Cask. I bought the 12yo, the 15yo and the 21yo As often is the case the 12yo “Doublewood” was the first one I opened. I have to admit I never bought any more than those three…

The Balvenie 21yo Port WoodColor: Orange gold.

Nose: Malty, vanilla powder and definitely some winey notes. Lots of cream and vanilla. Next to come through are some vegetable or plant like notes, but also some new wood and tree sap. Elegant wood, in no way overpowering, even at this age. Very organic. Hints of (saw) dust and very light chocolate (milk). Tiniest hints of cask toast and…wait for it…chlorine. Yet over all a nice nose. Balanced but light by reduction?.

Taste: Cardboard and wine. Malty and quite sweet. Very likeable. I like the fact that the Port is definitely there, but again, not overpowering. Mocha, licorice (Port related this time) and Tiramisu. Not bad, but the taste is really to weak. Definitely reduction!

Yes I will get on my horse now. This one is very nice, but almost reduced to death. It is too mild and especially the finish is almost ruined. You’ve probably had the experience of dabbling with water, and one of those times you slipped, and added a little too much. Remember how that tasted like? Remember how the finish got weak? Well that is what happened here. I can’t help but feel this is a money decision and not because they believe this Malt would be at it’s best @40% ABV. In 2002 I bought myself a bottle of this and remember it to be very, very good, also reduced to 40% but way more aroma in that one. This newer 21yo Port Wood doesn’t cut it (as much) for me. I’m planning to open that older version soon and I’ll get back to you on that subject a.s.a.p. Fun fact: I bought this 21yo, ten years ago for 58 Euro’s and I was recently informed, that very soon, the 21yo will cost almost 200 Euro’s. So If you like it, don’t hesitate, get it while you can for around 125 Euro’s.

Points: 85