SMWS 29.157 – Heidi’s Holiday to Islay

To celebrate Laphroaig’s Feis Ile Open Day, we review a sherried SMWS bottling.

Laphroaig are known for their full flavoured peaty drams which are the favourite of many a whisky drinker. This bottling from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a little different from the standard expressions in that it’s been matured in a refill sherry cask.

29.157 is a 17-year old Laphroaig which was distilled on 19 September 1996; it’s been bottled at a natural strength of 59.2% ABV and is one of 675 bottles.


Yellow amber.


Very rich nose; sweet salty and smoky. There’s a hint of sherry sulphur, roast ham and quite restrained ashy smoke.


Initial taste is thick with liquorice sweetness and a burst of sea salt and a hint of smoked fish. There’s a savoury element to this dram, maybe cooked smoked sausages which persists throughout – it probably shouldn’t work but it does.

Some burnt caramel appears and then the ash comes in with a punch, dominating the flavour.

A little sulphur rubber can be detected just before the rich smokey finish with some of the sweetness coming back at the end.

Water brings out a little more of the sherry sweetness but also too much ash; the restraint and balance in the neat spirit is knocked out.


This is definitely not a typical Laphroaig bottling and you’d need to be in the mood for it as it’s pretty full on. The nose and taste are consistent but quite different and it’s intriguing trying to work out the various flavours which appear.

The surprise was that water didn’t seem to benefit things at all – at 59.2% you’d expect to have to dilute it down, but it actually seems better neat.

Overall a cracking SMWS bottling – unfortunately mine is now finished and unlikely to be seen again. If you do happen upon a bottle (or taste) then get stuck in; it’s worth it.

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