The annual Laphroaig Live 2011 event was held on October 6 in Sydney’s historic Rocks area with the Opera House as backdrop. The live whisky tasting event saw nearly 30,000 fans tune in from around the world as the program was broadcast for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere.
Simon Reeve (host) John Campbell, Robert Hicks, Rebecca Varidel, Lin Johnston
Starting in London in 2007 as a way of uniting Laphroaig fans around the world, the event was held in Islay in 2008 , Kentucky in 2009 and Jerez in Spain in 2010 before coming to Sydney in 2011.
Distillery Manager John Campbell, Master Blender Robert Hicks led the tasting of four special whiskies with Channel Seven’s Simon Reeve hosting the event. Joining the panel was Rebecca Varidel of the blog Inside Cuisine and special guest Lin Johnston, the great-great granddaughter of Alexander Johnston, who founded Laphroaig with his brother Donald in 1815.
Attendance was by special invitation which included descendants of the Johnston family. Gourmantic attended the event and streamed it live on a special page where the broadcast can now be seen on demand.
Laphroaig (La-froyg) is an Islay (Eye-lah) single malt whisky known for its peat smoke and earthy taste. Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Triple Wood and Càirdeas were tasted live, as well as a special bottle of 10 year old Laphroaig that has been stored for half a century.
The first whisky on taste was the Quarter Cask Laphroaig, made from 5 to 11 year old first-fill Bourbons, where the liquids are remixed together and double matured in quarter casks. This Laphroaig gets a double infusion of American oak which balances the strong peat. The second maturation takes only 7 months due to having less liquid in the casks. The result is a whisky that has more toffee, caramel and vanilla flavours from the Bourbon barrels, as well as soft fruits, coconut and a spicy finish that feels dry in the mouth.
Robert Hicks, Master Distiller, described it as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” explaining that it was designed to give a smell that is different to the taste. While it is soft and gentle on the nose, the taste is very powerful on the peat.
Next on taste was the Triple Wood Laphroaig where Quarter Cask Laphroaig was matured in Oloroso Sherry casks. On the nose, there are hints of sherry, raisins, dry grapes and sultanas, with soft vanilla and toffee from the flavours of the barrel. On the palate, there is a little sherry at first, then fruit, ending with the power of Laphroaig but interestingly not as powerful as the Quarter Cask.
Laphroaig Càirdeas is a uniquely-matured 30 Year Old whisky that is released once a year in the last full week in May for Islay Festival of Whisky and Music. Càirdeas means friend in Gaelic and what started as 200 bottles has now grown due to high demand.
“Imagine Christmas cake when you pick up the glass,” Robert Hicks said as he lead the tasting of Càirdeas . It is sweet and spicy, with a little vanilla and thick dark sugar with a thickness and roundness in the mouth. It tastes more like a liqueur but it is still a whisky with an intense flavour that opens up when a few drops of water are added.
With much anticipation, a rare bottle of 10 Year Old Laphroaig from the 1960s was opened and tasted for the first time. This was a whisky made from the Johnston period and the last one produced by the ancestors. The colour was darker than what the panel of experts expected because whisky was paler back then due to the use of first-fill and second-fill barrels. The 10 Year Old Laphroaig has apricots on the nose with sherry notes and a great body and mouthfeel. John Campbell described it as not being overly peated but having the traditional flavours of Laphroaig.
John Campbell with Laphroaig 10 Year Old
The live broadcast included a questions that were posted on the Laphroaig Live website from people watching around the world while Chef Adam Birtles prepared an Australian style BBQ.
Canapés were served at the conclusion of the broadcast while the barbecue was in progress.
For the occasion, Friends of Laphroaig were asked to submit their best barbeque recipe suggestions, and the top five were recreated on the night.
(L) Chef Adam Birtles
The barbecue had a distinctive Australian flavour with BBQ pork ribs with house made barbecue sauce infused with Laphroaig whisky, grilled barramundi fillets cooked with Laphroaig whisky butter sauce, chargrilled kangaroo skewers, crocodile steaks, lamb loin chops and eggplant steaks.
More photographs of the event below.
Ned and Michelle, the winners of our Laphroaig Live competition
Special guests at the live event
Mitch of smokeandbooze.com with Phil
Clare, Simon Reeve of Channel 7, Kerry Wotton of Neon
Robert Hicks and John Campbell, Laphroaig
Laphroaig Live 2011 was held in Sydney at the Italian Village in the Rocks area on October 6. The 40 minute broadcast can be seen on demand here.
More photographs of Laphroaig Live Sydney 2011 are available on Facebook where you can Like the page and tag yourselves.
Gourmantic attended the Laphroaig Live Sydney 2011 event as media guests.
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