We heard rumors that this will replace the vaunted Laphroaig 18 Year Old in the range of the distillery’s regular offerings. Before we had even tried the Lore, that made us sad. Truth be told, it still makes us sad, but that’s only because the 18 is a superlative whisky for which apt superlatives are hard to come by.
But to examine the Lore on its own merits (beyond clocking in at a healthy 48% abv), the first thing one recognizes is the Laphroaig Peat. It’s the peat that brought us to Islay. It’s meaty, but more poultry than meat on the hoof. It’s roc bacon, hummingbird jerky, and a side of crude oil dip, all served on the same silver platter. But to say all of that is to make it sound like it’s anything other than pure, unadulterated peat. Really, it’s like Gotham City puts out a spotlight with a silhouette of a peat cube, so that when you see it, you drop your Zima and Red Bull and leave the disco to fight crime on Islay. Only there’s no crime on Islay, and you’re not Peatman. But it’s like that nonetheless.
The mouth evokes a tiny farm pot still in which the proprietor is distilling peat. This is a delicious stew with very few ingredients. It’s tasty, savory, pure peat essence. This should be called “Core” or “More Core than Lore.” This whisky would be very comfortable in a hermetically sealed test tube marked “Peat Essence” stored in Level 4 underground at the CDC. Image food scientists trying to invent artificial peat, only to find that their product was just peat. This is the liquid that should go in a cocktail mister for those drinks that call for a bold “whisper” of peat sprayed across them. Actually, this would be paradigmatic vaping peat.
Some spice lingers on the finish, but it’s still what a peat snow cone would taste like, but without the brain freeze. It’s like finding a burned ptarmagin feather and well-used hemp soap-on-a-rope in a tropical wood in New Zealand and wondering at the mystery of it all. That would be the lasting image this whisky leaves behind, but then it offers a green apple tourniquet at the end of my tongue, then billows peat steam from a release valve anomalously venting from the middle of a swamp. The Lore is a meditation on the core of the Laphroaig character, and it leaves the mind and soul at peace.
On the scale of cores–
The Laphroaig Lore is ice cores—Much more interesting than apple cores, much sexier than core competencies, and a hell of a lot more fun than core training, they are drilled out from the glaciated parts of the world—while there still are some—and they tell us about the history of life on our planet. And fundamentalists haven’t even come out to deny the truth of what lies in them (OK, other than climate change). They are very, very cool stuff.