Laphroaig is a long-time favorite of mine. I love the intense smoke/seawater/medicine flavors of Laphroaig 10; I appreciate the mellower, more refined presentation of Laphroaig 15; I respect the big Islay wallop of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Take the strengths of those three variants and put them into one bottle, and voila, you have Laphroaig 18. In other words, if you're a fan of the distillery and you haven't had this yet, you must try it.
The 15-year-old -- which by the way is being replaced by this 18 -- is a nice dram, but it always disappointed me a little bit because it gives up too much of the flavor you get with the 10-year-old. On the other hand, there's no denying that Laphroaig 10 is perhaps a little too pungent. The 18 is the best of both worlds. It rounds off the harsh edges that remain in the 10, without losing the massive assault of peat smoke and iodine that defines Laphroaig. The peaty, briny finish stays on the tongue for ages. It's a big 'un, too: 96 proof. Don't dilute this masterpiece very much, but to really open up the flavors, add 1 or 2 drops of water.
The price is a steal for this caliber of whisky: right now it's $78 in Oregon liquor stores. That price may be headed up: Google turns up prices over $100, and a California liquor store favored by some Scotch-loving friends of mine is selling it for $130 (for comparison, they list Laphroaig 10 at $30, far cheaper than the usual Oregon price). Click here to order Laphroaig 18 from British retailer Master of Malt: it's a 70 cl European bottle, but remember to request your 16% VAT refund if you're ordering from outside the EU.