Laphroaig 1970 Samaroli 14 Year Old / Osteria Apostoli
Samaroli is perhaps Italy's most revered independent bottler of Scotch whisky. With an impeccable taste in single cask whiskies, and an eye for aesthetics (if not English spelling at times!), he is regarded by many as a visionary. Many of his bottles now occupy deserved sports on the pantheon of whisky greats.
This is an incredibly rare 1970 vintage Laphroaig, bottled by R.W. Duthie in 1984 and exclusively reserved for the Osteria Apostoli in Milan. This is one of several releases, bottled alongside a Macallan, Bowmore and a Mortlach.
Laphroaig is the largest of the three heavyweight Islay distilleries in Kildalton, out-stripping the production capacity of neighbours, Ardbeg and Lagavulin, by over 1 million litres per annum. Despite its traditional appearance, Laphroaig was always a forward-thinking distillery. It was bottled as a single malt as early as the 1920s, an unfashionable option at the time, especially for a peated whisky. They were also shrewd in capitalising on post-Prohibition America to add trademark sweetness to their spirit through the use of imported ex-bourbon casks, and hired Scotland’s first ever female distillery manager, Bessie Williamson, in 1954. Laphroaig is one of only a handful of distilleries in Scotland to still use in-house maltings, providing them with 20% of their annual requirements, and contributing to the distillery’s unique flavour profile.
It is worth noting that this bottle is not without its fair share of controversy. Indeed, there are examples of it in existence with two slightly different labels, each of which has the same information but presented with a different typeface. For a number of years it was widely considered that the bottle presented here was the genuine article, and the less common variation was inauthentic. A spanner was thrown in the works however by the discovery by Emmanuel Dron of the second label design in Silvano's archives. It was not apparently not attached to any bottles however. Several bottles sourced directly from the Osteria former-owner were also labelled with the same typeface as this bottle. The likelihood is that the label was reprinted for one reason or another, perhaps on account of the mis-spelling of "Laphroaihg" (although it is not correct on either), or to add the volume and strength measurements which are absent on the example printed in Dron's Collecting Scotch Whisky. Sadly there is no absolute clarity on the issue, however we are able to offer a strong degree of confidence. This bottle has a reassuring consistency in its presentation. The glass type, plastic capsule and cork top are the same material as those used by R.W. Duthie for this period, as is the paper stock of the label. The bottle has also been taxed from the same book of Italian tax strips as the Macallan from this series, meaning they were imported via the same customs house at the same time. Strips from this book also appear on other Samaroli bottles between 1984 and 1988.