Laphroaig Distillery Handfill 23 Year Bourbon Cask (1999)

Scotch Whisky Review #415: Laphroaig Distillery Handfill 23 Year Bourbon Cask (1999)

Distillery: Laphroaig.

Bottler: /u/KissMeElon.

Region: Islay.

Age: 23 Year. Distilled in 1999, bottled in 2022.

ABV: 53.2% Cask Strength

Cask Number: 5172.

Cask Type: Bourbon Cask.

Price: Pour courtesy of /u/KissMeElon.

Color: 0.5, Yellow Gold. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.

Nose: Vanilla is the first note that comes out in all of its dessert goodness. That sweeter note is quickly overtaken by a smoked pork note. Its smells quite fatty and salty, somewhere between a smoked ham and a nice slab of smoked bacon. After the fatty, meaty notes comes a bit of an oddball. Its a note of something like a floral/lavender-scented bar soap. The combination of all of this probably shouldn’t work but for some reason it does.

Palate: Despite the strength, it is really easy drinking. I felt no desire to add water to this. The note of fatty, salty, smoked pork is pretty strong. A caramelized onion note follows with along with some malt barley sugars and a bit of lemon.

Finish: Medium in length. The fatty, salted pork note makes another appearance. There’s a sweet lemon candy note that finishes things up (think the sweeter inner parts of a lemon hard candy).

Conclusion: I haven’t had a lot of Laphroaig and much less come across any of the distillery handfills you can get from the tour there. /u/KissMeElon recently shared this whisky with me, one of two he’d poured on a recent trip up to Port Ellen. I definitely get why he grabbed a bottle from this cask. The nose is probably the star of the show here. Reading my notes again, it really feels like it shouldn’t work. The combination of vanilla, pork, and floral bar soap doesn’t sound like a winner but somehow it was, that combination was quite intoxicating and easily one of the noses of the night for me. The palate and finish delivered the meat of what the nose promised with that fatty, salted pork note being throughout, though I oddly found myself wanting a bit of the lavender somewhere. Overall, fantastic whisky and many thanks to /u/KissMeElon for sharing it with me!

Final Score: 85.

Note: I’ve made some changes to the scoring legend, the descriptions have been updated slightly to match my actual scoring a little better.

Scotch Whisky Review #415, Islay Review #67, Whisky Network Review #569

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky and I will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection if feasible.
  • 85-89: Very good to amazing, almost the complete product and I’m likely wanting a bottle or two.
  • 80-84: Quite good, pleasant overall though there is usually a few things that could be improved still.
  • 75-79: Good, enjoyable to drink but ultimately flawed.
  • 70-74: Alright, solid and wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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