When a humble sample of a 16 year old Laphroaig bottled at cask strength appears at your door after 3 ice storms in 6 days, you know someone, somewhere is looking out for you. Time to thaw out and enjoy a treat!
The nose of this indie bottling exhibits many of the characteristics expected from Laphroaig and Islay: loads of saltwater, Tellicherry black pepper, brine, and peat in droves undulating one another in waves. A splash of water brings out muted lemon zest and mango, but not enough to drive away the peat and smoke. The palate is surprisingly less medicinal than anticipated: lots of lemon zest and raisin show up before the smoky, farm-oriented notes take hold, a little bit more brine with water. The finish is long and most welcome: loads of smoke, oak, and black pepper before being rewarded with a burst mild chestnut honey as it lingers and evaporates. When stacked up against the original bottling from the distillery this is a bit more aggressive on heat and phenolic blast, likely due to the cask strength bottling.
Fat Dram may not be an independent bottler carrying the name recognition of larger independents, but they appear to be doing a respectable job with their offerings. If this is any indication of quality, I look forward to hunting down its Highland Park and Talisker bottlings. Laphroaig loyalists will find this to be a welcome dram and bottle worthy of their collection.
A- / $200