QC, CS, 15 Years. The 15 (as I know it) is the mildest, the least Laphroaigian of the lot.
The CS is splendid, a bit more so what Laphroaig used to be when you hated or loved him and there was nothing in between. But not yet quite so.
The young CS is woody-sweet at the start, nutty, and then there comes the flood. A new style Laphroaig but IMO the best of the three.
Quarter Cask: Choose this if you want pungent peat, youthful exuberance, and bold assertiveness.
15yo: Choose this if you want something gloriously complex, smooth, refined, silky, sweet, peaty, rich and satisfying.
Yes, they are all different, but they're all equally good.
As you can gather from my thoughts above, I feel each one caters for a particular mood or textural desire, so choose one based on
what takes your fancy.
Really what I am after is the smokiest/peatiest and biggest oomph whisky of the all (albeit on a budget!)
In that case, skip the Laphroaigs and get a bottle of Ardbeg Very Young!
I can see other distilleries trying the quarter cask experiment. It has worked very well.
Bear in mind Allied tried it with all their distilleries, and it turned out to be a bit hit & miss. Some worked, some didn't. (See article in last issue of Whisky Mag.....or was it the one before?)
I second the Admiral. Ardbeg very young is the malt with the peatiest ommph.
The idea behind quarter cask is that in a hogshead or barrel you have a unfortunate content to surface ratio. Meaning that in a big barrel there is a huge "core" of whisky in the middle with no contact to the wood. This ratio is changed favourably when the barrel is smaller.
Thereby the 8-9 year old Laphroaig matures faster because of the more intense wood influence in the smaller casks. These quarters were made of new oak especially. My guess is that this size was the old meassure when whisky was distilled ilicit. These small barrels can be packed on a horse and off you go over the hills when the tax man comes. They are easily handled by one man and therefore they can be easily hidden if need be.
The QC is a experiment in back to the roots which IMO worked uncommonly well. It is a wood - wood finishing in used and new oak.
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