Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Colour me Laphroaig – Laphroaig Live Sydney 2011

Laphroaig Live Website
So I have deliberately postponed this post simply because I thought that a Laphroaig overdose may have set in for some, not for me though if I could paint myself in Laphroaig I would have. Now a couple of weeks have passed here is my quick review of the Laphroaig Live Sydney 2011 event. You may also see The Converted's review here.

Laphroaig Live Sydney occurred 20:00 EST on Thursday, 6 October 2011. Attending the event was The Converted, Two Fingers, and myself The Baron. Tickets were provided courtesy of Mark Gillespie of Whisky Cast, and John Campbell, Distillery Manager of Laphroaig. It was a privilege to be there.

Our tables harbour view
Location was excellent. Finding ourselves right on the water at the Italian Village Restaurant there were splendid views of the Opera House, Darling Harbour, and back into the city.

Honestly, even though I have watched previous years events online, I really had no idea what to expect and was not even sure if we would have nothing more than water on the tables. No one said come hungry, come thirsty! Maybe they should have. On arrival we were ushered into the restaurant to be greeted with sparking water, red and white wine, as well as beer. What no whisky?!

Our table setting
After the refreshments we were seated to find 3 delicious Laphroaig whiskies on the table to taste along with the panel. Very generous indeed! These whiskies were: Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Laphroaig Triple Wood, and Laphroaig Cairdeas 30yo.

The Laphroaig Live panel: John Campbell, Robert Hicks, Rebecca Varidel, Lin Johnston
Through the show we were invited to taste along with the panel and oh boy did we taste. Curious though it was obvious around a 1/3 of the audience did not drink whisky nor have a real interest to even try. We received many an odd look by the opposite table as we swirled, nosed, and tasted our way through the whiskies. This I found to be a real pity as there would be many a worthy potential guest ready to jump at the chance to be at the tables. I know I did and ever so appreciative to be invited (even if I did make a little noise about it prior). Did I mention how happy I was to be there…

Those generous drams
After the show the whisky just kept flowing and flowing and flowing. Luckily enough we were also treated to a handsome dram of the special 60 year old bottle of Laphroaig 10yo, one of only 4 still in existence at that time and opened on the night. This bottle was filled not long after the WW2 and was pre official Laphroaig recipe. My tasting notes of that can be found at the bottom of this post.

The food was OK but not great. Am I complaining? Certainly not but rather for an executive chef working the hotplate, I did find the meats overcooked and dry. As for the Laphroaig BBQ sauce I have to say this was a real treat and yes you could taste the whisky in it. I have the recipe and I will make it up and review it in full soon.

The events smorgasbord BBQ sauce included
I do have to agree with The Converted's prognosis that the content of the show was a little light on in substance and could have been more creative. In saying that it was only for 45min and that is a pretty short period of time to host a live show, taste whisky, and have some discussions. Probably for me I did not really learn anything form this show unlike previous shows. Hey beggars can't be choosers. The focus of the show was partly on the Lin Johnston the great, great granddaughter of one of the founders of the Laphroaig distillery - Alexander Johnston, and the bottle of Laphroaig whisky distilled while Alexander was still part of Laphroaig.

Laphroaig 10yo 1940s - 1950s edition. Note the screw top cap.
Laphroaig 10yo (Pre Official Laphroaig Recipe)
Distilled: 1940s -1950s

Nose: Massive orange citrus.

Taste: Sweet apricots and spicy oil on the pallet. Only marginally medicinal in comparison to todays Laphroaig's. It had the general Laphroaig metallic band appearing in the top middle of the pallet but before long all the flavours focus in the front of the mouth. Hints of smoke but nothing really noticeable.

Finish: Virtually no finish at all. It was light and very short.

Overall: It tasted good though mild and does not stand up to todays levels of Laphroaig peat and medicinal notes. If you were not told what it was you may even think it to be something form the mainland. Enjoyable but I certainly prefer todays recipe.

John had mentioned at the previous nights Laphroaig Master Class that he did not really know what to expect as the methods that bottle had be stored was was not clear. Either way a great opportunity to taste a little history.

Without a doubt we had a great time and I feel quite privileged to be part of the event considering Laphroaig is one of my all time favourites. If I was to give a dram then it would be 6 1/2 out of 7.

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was invited as a guest this event. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.