Drinks group Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine Ltd has today surprised Scotch whisky aficionados by unveiling the official launch of the worlds first and only quarter cask matured single malt, for its famous Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky.


Developed in secrecy at the home of Laphroaig on the remote Scottish Island of Islay, Laphroaig Quarter Cask takes its inspiration from the small casks, often used for Scotch whisky in the 19th Century, which fell into disuse as the industry grew bigger. Double cask matured, Laphroaig Quarter Cask starts life in standard barrel size American Oak and is transferred into the newly created Quarter Casks for a final period of maturation.

The Quarter Cask maturation allows up to 30% more of the spirit to be in contact with the wood compared to a normal barrel - the process whereby all malts take much of their individual character and style.

Increasing the oak influence through this unique process imparts a special character to the maturing spirit, resulting in a creamy, coconut-like, delivery on the nose and a soft sweetness when first tasted. However the unmistakable peat smoke, that is the hallmark of Laphroaig, then comes bursting through.

Blended from a range of aged spirit up to and including 10 years old, Laphroaig Quarter Cask is bottled at 48% alcohol by volume and non-chill filtered to preserve the maximum flavour produced by this unique maturation process.

Targeted at 30-45 year old male malt consumers seeking to explore the world outside mainstream malt choice, and at loyal Laphroaig drinkers, Laphroaig Quarter Cask offers consumers a slightly more accessible Laphroaig - whilst retaining the unforgettable Laphroaig smoky-peat flavours that define this outstanding malt whisky brand.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask will go on sale in key markets in Europe and the USA, from May 2005 and will, given the bespoke nature of the maturation process, and the higher alcohol content, command a premium to Laphroaig 10 Year Old.

Michael Cockram, Malt Brands Director at Allied Domecq, said, Laphroaig Quarter Cask is a major piece of innovation for Allied Domecq and a welcome departure from the series of flavoured cask finishes that has come to characterise innovation in the malt whisky category. Based on extensive distillery trials, the process of marrying a number of different quarter casks to produce this exciting and unique Laphroaig variant is a tribute to the skills of Robert Hicks our master blender who has overseen every step of this unrivalled process. In Quarter Cask we believe we have a fantastic new expression, built around the most traditional of techniques, which will help extend the appeal and fame of Laphroaig globally.

To further explore and secure its leading position in Quarter Cask maturation, Allied Domecq has also undertaken a number of experiments with other owned single malt distilleries including Scapa, Glenburgie and Ardmore. Based on outstanding early results the group are currently assessing the value of introducing additional Quarter Cask variants to the portfolio.

Like the early days of flavour finishes, Quarter cask maturation has the potential to become a whole new sub category in the malt whisky market. Its exciting to be at the forefront of this development with a world malt icon such as Laphroaig concludes Cockram.

Editors Notes: Laphroaig quarter casks are hand crafted by the Speyside Cooperage to Allied Domecqs specification.