N: There is a lot of cinnamon and wet wood shavings initially. It opens after a couple of minutes showing bourbon casks charater: honey, toffee, and butterscotch. Fainter fruit notes could be found (tangerines, apricots and mango) followed by some peat. The peat isn't big and in your face, but its been sitting for 40 years.
P: Oily and coating mouth feel. A lot more peat than advertised on the nose. Spiced dry wood, preserved lemon peel with bits of smoke. The fruits mentioned above show with a bit of pineapple, black licorice, tobacco leaves and cherry cough syrup.
F: Lingering lasting finish: sweet warm peat, wax and menthol. Some bitterness shows as it lingers.
Overall I thought this was massively drinkable. Predominantly bourbon influence but I did get hints of sherry, but it was inconsistent. Individual flavors were very nice and things that I like, but there was no synergy. That kept it out of the A- range.
Initially, the nose is sharply tangy and almost "something's wrong" smelling. Then a bit of peat. As it opens up, it becomes more lemony and smokey -- and acceptable -- with more smoke than I'd expect for 40 years old.
The palate is lemony, mildly peaty, and initially unremarkable... but as I drink more it improves. Citrus and smoke fight for the forefront. This isn't even close to complex, and actually pretty one-dimensional and subdued, but it's nice at what it does if a bit lacking in "life."
I spent quite a while doing a head-to-head with the 30-year-old. They've both got that lemony-citrus characteristic, with the 30yo being sweeter as we'd expect, but strangely enough the 40yo is peatier. Maybe it was in less active casks than the 30yo. The finish on the 40 is distinctly ashy, amplified by the tannins, though it's not that much more tannic than the 30. Overall, the 30 is definitely more enjoyable for me.
Ignoring pricing (as LAWS does when rating whiskey), I'd happily enjoy sipping this at length -- it's very drinkable and certainly enjoyable -- and I'd like to own a bottle for myself, so that's a B+.
I see Laphroaig 40 as fitting into the profile of many ultra-luxury bottlings: consider who buys them, and what their likely tasting experience is. They're people who shun independent bottlings ("off-brand" whiskies are so uncouth!), and they probably don't drink a lot of cask-strength and/or intensely flavored stuff. These guys aren't particularly adventurous at all as far as whiskey goes. So, how do you design a whisky for those people? Make it inoffensive and very drinkable. That way, whenever those "collectors" decide to open up a bottle to show off -- or even if it's just their everyday-drinker -- they can sip it with friends, nod, and say, "Mmm, smooth!"