Laphroaig PX Cask Single Malt Whisky (48% ABV / 96 proof, $90 per 1 Liter – Travel Retail Exclusive) – this special travel retail release is actually matured in three different woods: the initial ex-bourbon cask, the quarter American oak cask, and then finally in the prized Pedro Ximenez Cask. It’s interesting that Laphroaig would release the two different travel retail cask editions at different proofs and with such decidedly different character. Light amber in color, the PX Cask release is only slightly darker and a little bit redder in color than Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask Release. As with the Quarter Cask, the nose on the Laphroaig PX Cask is less smoky than Laphroaig 10 year. While there is clearly smoke on the nose, it’s mixed with the vanilla and caramel from the quarter cask, and a sweet black cherry and blackberry note from the Pedro Ximenez cask. The entry for Laphroaig PX Cask has many of the same sweet notes as the Quarter Cask including vanilla and caramel, but there’s also the dark fruit from the Pedro Ximenez along with a nicely balanced amount of peat smoke and iodine.
In the midpalate Laphroaig PX Cask really comes alive with the addition of some really nice spice including cinnamon, clove, and black pepper. This spice is well balanced with the sweet dark fruit notes and an increasing smoky fire that greatly intensifies. The finish is long and flavorful lead by ashy peat fire, supported by spice, and combined with dark fruits. In the finish the Laphroaig PX Cask tips its hand, showing off a little bit of the young malt in the mix, but the flavor trifecta is so spot on, it’s easy to both forgive and ignore the flash of youth. The only real impact of the younger malt is at the end of the finish where it’s a little hot and uncharacteristically dry.
It’s hard to believe that Laphroaig QA and PX Cask are part of the same line. Laphroaig PX Cask succeeds where Laphroaig QA fails: it manages to preserve Laphroaig’s essential DNA while bringing something new to the equation. The flavors imparted from the Pedro Ximenez Barrel, especially the spicier notes, really serve to complement the core Laphroaig notes, which are well balanced. Here many of the things that Quarter Cask brings to the table are enhanced by the final time this whisky spends in the Pedro Ximenez barrel. Perhaps if the QA cask had managed to pull in more of the American oak spice and less of the oily sweetness, it could have been on par with this delicious release.