This particular expression of Laphroaig has been manufactured by a somewhat different process than the usual. To mature this dram, Laphroaig used just about every sort of cask that they've previously featured- straight American white oak, olorosso sherry, PX-seasoned, quarter casks and first-fill bourbon casks. This varied and experimental process allowed them to create 6 different flavours, which were then tested with an invited group of the Friends of Laphroaig. The winning flavour they chose is bottled as Laphroaig Select.
In the mouth, the malt is quite light and pale- and the typical Laphroaig peat is not to a satisfactory level! There are hints of pepper and seaweed, but they are quite muted, leaving the malt thin and not well-rounded. It's short and dry in the finish, leaving more to be desired in the phenol and smoke it leaves behind.
Overall, a dram of Laphroaig Select leaves you with a sense that something is missing. Perhaps it is my great obsession with all things peat, and I'm unable to digest such sobriety in an Islay product. Perhaps it is the moderate ABV of 40%, and things could have been different at a 48? But one gets a better sense of what the chaps at Laphroaig are up to when you look at the price- slotted at par with the entry-level Laphroaig 10 YO. Islay malts, especially the medicinal variety Laphroaig are famous for, do not easily appeal to novice drinkers. A friendlier, less medicinal variety shelved at the entry-level makes Laphroaig more likely to be picked up by them, thereby easing their entry into the rugged world of Islay.
I personally would not be buying this expression of Laphroaig again, especially when the quarter cask and PX cask varieties are available at comfortable prices in most duty free retails. Even when I might be in the mood for a lighter, airier dram- Auchentoshan is my preferred distiller for such occasions!