Laphroaig Quarter Cask Islay Single-Malt Scotch Whiskey
Matured in small barrels, this single malt from the legendary Scottish distiller was created to emulate the style of the Laphroaig whiskies produced in the early 19th century. The idea is that after a standard barrel aging, the spirit is moved to a much smaller cask, which allows 30 percent more of the spirit to come in contact with the barrel wood. The resulting Scotch is darker than the normal 10-year Laphroaig, and at 96 proof, heavier in alcohol, too.
It doesn't leave you longing, either. Pull the cork on this bottle and you're going to get a lot of smokiness, like the smell of damp wood when it burns. But to be sure, the smokiness is refined, not rough or sharp, and there's a woody sweetness, like boiling maple syrup, that pervades the nose. It's more complicated than Laphroaig's 10-year and finishes with an interesting citrusy sweetness. But to be clear, this is not a gentle scotch. It's bigger and bolder. [$55; laphroaig.com]