The Select is one of Laphroaig’s many NAS whiskies – an expression with a name very generic. I am unsure if the meaning is aligned to the ‘Select Oak‘ expressions of the Macallan and Glenfiddich, which literally means nothing, since all whiskies are carefully ‘selected’ before being blended and not just these.
Honestly, I wouldn’t think this malt would be any different. However, rumor has it the ‘Select’ really does have its origins. The distillers created six different combinations using a variety of maturation techniques with different woods. And it was one of these six that the distillery selected to be their malt of choice. Fact or not – I’m not really sure, as I haven’t seen anything validating this theory.
The Select has a very varied gene pool, a fusion of some of the most loved expressions from the distillery. The Quarter Cask, Triple Wood, Pedro Ximenes (PX) and the peat rich Ten YO are blended together and then married for a few months in virgin american oak casks to provide for this distinct, flavorful whisky. The good news here is the distillery does not add any colouring to the spirit, meaning what you see is pleasantly what you get.
Eye: Yellow Gold
Nose: A concoction of brine, seaweed and peat tossed with shreds of sweet papaya, olives and cocoa. The maltiness of barley with hints of menthol play hard to get with earthy overtones loosely coupled with char and the spice of cinnamon and pepper.
Taste: Begins with a drizzle of honey followed by moist, charred wood, peat and iodine. Savory but minutely sweet – red berries, caramel and tropical fruits perhaps, trailed by a mild heat emanating from the back of the palate.
Finish: Medium to long | Green pepper, peat, with a mild sweetness.
Select vs Ten
It was only natural that a certain inquisitiveness would have me place both expressions head to head to see how one fared against the other. I did have some reminiscent Laphroaig left and didn’t see any reason to pass off the opportunity.
The Select is a novice dram, crisp and light with a floral, fruitier side, one the spirit isn’t at all shy of showing off. The finish isn’t as long, but still holds ground with plush peat, seaweed and brine. The Ten…now, this was a more mature whisky, the difference more evident and crystal. Dense, complex with the peat subduing most of that sweetness initially, unless you were to give it a while to shed. In terms of color, the younger Select is lighter but only by a wee bit – probably because of its QC and PX content. Not a fair comparison though since the Ten is tainted with caramel coloring.
Both siblings are peaty and a fairly good representation of all things Islay, but to me what spelt the difference was how differently peat played on the palate for each expression. There’s no clear winner, only because each caters to a different spectrum of consumers – one a more lighter, jovial and fun loving spirit, while the other more prime, reserved and rich on the palate. The Select is a Laphroaig for those who wish to dip their toes into the cold briney Islay waters and not take the plunge at first go!
Preference: Neat; maybe a few drops of water.