Beam Suntory-owned Laphroaig is set to release a duo of 36-year-old expressions into global travel retail, the first bottlings in new The Archive and The Wall collections.
The whiskies are the oldest Laphroaigs released in over two decades, and are said to highlight a “defining period” for the Islay maker.
TRBusiness has tasted both expressions, which will be released into the channel in January 2024.
The Archive Collection celebrates Laphroaig’s whisky-makers past and present. Subsequent releases will follow later in 2024.
Unmistakably Laphroaig but with its peat ferocity tempered by age, The Archive Collection 36 Year Old offers notes of peach, freshly cut grass, pineapple, mango, toffee, milk chocolate, liquorice, cola cube sweets and sandalwood.
The medicinal smoke is more gentle on the palate than perhaps expected, but builds into a powerful crescendo on the finish.
Laphroaig 36 Year Old The Archive Collection has been matured in American ex-bourbon casks before a finishing period in second-fill Oloroso sherry hogshead. It has been bottled at a cask strength of 40.2% ABV and has an RSP of US$4,200.
It is limited to 400 bottles globally, with 19 allocated to global travel retail. They will be available from London Heathrow T3 and T5 with Avolta; at Dubai International Airport with Gulf Beverages/Dubai Duty Free; and at Frankfurt Airport T1 and T2 in partnership with Gebr Heinemann.
“The Archive Collection is the pinnacle of our range, showcasing the passion and craftsmanship in every bottle we produce,” said Laphroaig Distillery Manager Barry MacAffer.
“This exceptional spirit balances the depth of character for which we’re famous, alongside the kind of unique flavours that can only be found in the rarest of Laphroaig whiskies.”
Laphroaig 36 Year Old The Wall Collection
Also new from the distillery is The Wall Collection, a new series that hones in on Laphroaig’s distinctive characteristics. It also celebrates cask finishing practices employed by the maker.
The first to be launched is Peat Edition, a 36-year-old release presented in a hand-painted bottle by illustrator Laura Carlin. As such, each of the 200 bottles are completely unique.
Her designs take inspiration from the criss-cross shapes of cut peat bricks.
Future expressions will be announced in due course, the distillery added.
For this 36-year-old release, a cask that previously held younger, livelier, more heavily peated Laphroaig was used to finish the whisky – essentially re-intensifying its smoke.
10 bottles of Laphroaig 36 Year Old The Wall Collection Peat Edition have been allocated to global travel retail.
It will be available at Frankfurt Airport T1 and T2 with Gebr Heinemann, in Dubai International Airport with Gulf Beverages/Dubai Duty Free, and at London Heathrow T3 and T5 in partnership with Avolta.
Elastoplast peat leaps from the tasting glass, followed by fruit compote, marzipan, cinnamon, sultanas, a touch of eucalyptus and honey.
The expression has been bottled at 42.5% ABV with an RRSP of US$4,900.
MacAffer said of the release: “The Wall Collection is hugely exciting for us as it celebrates two of the most enduring and iconic elements of our whisky and our distillery, the peat we use to imbue our barley with its distinctive deep, smoky flavour, and the striking white walls of our distillery.
“The whisky itself is every bit as special as the bottle. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, this spirit has been finished in a heavily peated cask so we’ve been able to re-intensify the smokiness that usually takes a back seat in older whisky.
“This extraordinary bottle is unlike anything else we’ve released before.”
Carlin added: “I loved immersing myself in Islay life and Laphroaig distillery’s place amongst the scenery and the community.
“The slow, humble and evocative method in which the Peat Edition was made was a huge inspiration for creating the bottles.”
Beam Suntory Brand Marketing Director Global Travel Retail Manuel Gonzalez commented: “These highly limited aged whiskies from Laphroaig are really special releases, and I’m delighted that we are able to make a small selection available to our travelling consumers. I thank our longstanding retail partners for their ongoing support.
“Each of these single malts showcases the impact of longer maturation, while telling two unique stories that began in the same time and place, but finished in completely different ways. Their character and contrast is a testament to the breadth of flavour achieved in aged Laphroaig, and creates a striking and refined tasting experience.”
Last month, Beam Suntory announced the release of Laphroaig Elements, a new series that delves into the artistry of production that at the distillery.