Single malt whisky - tasting notes

30 Jul 2011

Laphroaig 1990 (Whisky-Doris)

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Laphroaig

I had another Laphroaig 1990 hanging around, let’s try it against the Private Stock release. This one has considerably less alcohol, not sure if it has been brought down by adding water.


Laphroaig 1990 Whisky-DorisLaphroaig 20 yo 1990 (47,3%, Whisky-Doris 2011, bourbon hogshead #10873, 225 btl.)

Nose: a more buttery version again, with some cake and soft vanilla underneath the coastal / medicinal notes. Even a farmy edge that I didn’t find in the other releases. Nice. But mind you, differences are subtle. Mouth: a tad softer due to the lesser strength. Briny, with sweet peat and smoked fish. Almonds. Definitely rounder and sweeter than the Private Stock. A hint of cocoa. Finish: long, smoky and salty with a marzipan coating.

All these 1990’s are similar and it will be down to your personaly preference if you were to pick a favourite. Personally I like a little sweetness to counter the coastal austerity. This one has a perfect drinking strength of course, so no need to fiddle with water. Around € 110 – now sold out.

Score: 90/100


ps/ All these similar Laphroaigs, whether they are 1990 or 1998 or 2000, are getting a little boring. Laphroaig is one of these distilleries with a high quality in general combined with a very small deviation.

I wonder if it’s a good thing for independent bottler to release so many nearly identical casks at the same time? Personally I haven’t bought any of them, simply because I never get the feeling of a unique opportunity. If I’d wish to buy one tomorrow, I think I wouldn’t have difficulty finding similar quality again.

Laphroaig 1990 (Whisky-Doris) 4 Ruben Luyten 2011-07-30
  • Steffen Bräuner

    It never hurts to stock up on good whisky :-)

    But you got a point. The bottlers from Germany and Benelux seems to bottle casks in batches and of high quality. At Limburg this year we found 3-4 sister casks of Coleburn from various bottlers without any real effort. But its nice to have this bottles out. I prefer the IB Laphroaigs to the current style blended from the distillery


  • Johannes

    I Totally agree. These indie Laphroaigs never go under 87 and never above 90-91 ponts. Even if they are good. It’s a bit boring.

  • Ruben

    Exactly, I’m not saying no to good whisky of course. It just doesn’t make sense to try them all and give advice, there are hardly any surprises (neither negative nor positive). So I’ll focus on some other things in the near future.

  • Douglas

    Nice notes as always, Ruben. I completely agree about Laphroaig’s consistency and reliability. I just wish we saw more from (good) Sherry casks.

    Your point about all the similar releases is something I’ve been interested in for a while. I think it reveals how much of the IB sector works.

    Brokers appear to offer parcels of sister casks from a given distillery and year to the IB market. IBs typically buy one or two and issue them quickly. (It’s a big outlay to buy casks so I guess cash flow concerns means they need money back and perhaps can’t afford to store them).

    As consumers we see clusters of releases, for example, the current Laphroaig 1990s and Inchgower 1974s, or St Magdalene 1982s from a couple of years ago.

    I think I prefer when an IB has acquired in depth and stored the casks so they can release a succession of bottlings to the market. Douglas Laing has done this with Sherry cask Laphroaig from 1987/1989, Signatory with Ladyburn 1975 and a few years ago their fine Brora 1981s. I’m amazed at how many Ladyburns have emerged, just from Signatory.

    This staggered release policy will cost the IB more up front so not everyone can do it, but I think it cuts down on reviewer fatigue!


    Whisky Doris is very selective when it comes to selecting quality whisky. Doris once told me that they have sampled all kinds of whisky for 9 months without selecting one single cask. The quality was to poor!. Hats off for not just bottling everything.

  • Ruben

    Douglas, your analysis is quite correct. I’m thinking to write an article about this for some months now. Bottom line is that you can create some sort of “tree structure” of the whisky industry.
    Somewhere high up this tree, indeed whole batches of similar casks are offered, sometimes just 2 or 3, sometimes up to 25. Once they are sold, the broker / bottler will try to sell the casks he doesn’t need to other bottlers down the tree. Most of the casks released by German brands come from one or two nodes and are then distributed among the list of bottlers / shops.
    As you say, most small bottlers don’t have enough money to store casks or mature them into something unique, so they pick one cask from the batch and want to get them out on the market as soon as possible. Releasing them in a more spread out way, would not only cut down on reviewer fatigue, I guess it would also bring more dynamics to the market and eventually make consumers spend more money (as now they only tend to buy one cask that it supposed to be the best of the bunch).

  • Douglas

    Cheers Ruben.

    I hope you find time to write your article. I think a lot of us would be like to understand how the independent sector operates.

  • Pingback: Laphroaig 1998, A.D. Rattray « Onversneden()

  • Pingback: Happy 2012 | WhiskyNotes()



December 2015
« Nov    

Coming up

  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1935 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.