Review: Williamson 9 – The Maltman

Today is my father’s 71st birthday and I’ve spent the day by taking him for a long walk in his wheelchair, and we went for some fries afterwards. His favourite snack in the world, as he is and will always remain a Belgian at heart. It was good to spend the day with him, but unfortunately he is not doing well. The man I knew and loved is long gone, and even his mind is fleeting as his struggles against Parkinson’s become harder every day. So today I decided to get one of the more special bottles from my cabinet, and pour myself a dram of this Williamson 9 from The Maltman. A gift from my sister, from a distillery that holds a special place in my heart. Here’s to you dad, Slàinte Mhath!

Many of us will instantly know that the name Williamson means this bottle is a bottle of Laphroaig. But for those of you that don’t, let me elaborate. The name Williamson will always remain linked to Laphroaig. As it was the last name of its former distillery manager. Bessie Williamson was the first woman to manage a Scotch whisky distillery in de 20th century. And she was one of the driving forces behind making Single Malt Whisky as popular as it is today. Nowadays several independent bottlers use the name Williamson for (teaspooned or otherwise) malts from the Laphroaig distillery.

Tasting Notes: Williamson 9 – The Maltman
Stats:

ABV: 54.4% (108.8 proof)

Age: 9 years old

Distillery: Laphroaig

Owned by: Beam Suntory

Category: Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

It was a long day, and not a very easy one. It’s always hard when you see the ones you love struggle. But instead of focusing on what is and what might come, it’s also good to remember the good times you’ve had. So, I poured this Williamson 9 from The Maltman neat into my Glencairn, and before I started writing I gave a toast to my dad. Thank you for all the good times we had, let’s remember them fondly, together for as long as we can.

Nose:

The nose is very coastal, and very very (extraordinary) Laphroaig. There’s salty sea air and brine, as if you’ve just set foot in a little fisher’s village and took a deep breath. There’s some seaweed here as well, and many of the medicinal flavours we’ve come to know and love from Laphroaig. Band-aids, tar, and Iodine are all drifting from the top of the glass like fumes of industrial smoke. There’s nothing pleasant about this, it’s raw and unapologetic with boarish manners. And that’s exactly how I like my Laphroaig! Water dulls the nose down quite significantly, paving the way for some citrus notes to appear. The influence of lime is what stands out the most among them.

Palate:

The palate is fiery, and I’ll go as far as to even call it a wee bit fiendish. It comes at you full force with plenty of bite. The peat and tannins provide the fangs, and iodine and tar blend together with it nicely. There are also some less bold flavours present though, namely citrus and caramel. The citrus makes me think of some fresh made lemon ice tea, and the caramel brings to mind a nice thick chunk of (smoky) whisky infused fudge. There’s a savoury note in there as well, with whiffs of charred meat passing the review. Heavily charred meat, as in the stuff you scrape of the bbq the next day. Water amps up the savoury influences in this dram, but it takes some of the char away. In fact it turned into a well-done steak. Mouth-watering!

Finish:

The finish is long and filled with a mixture of bitter and sour notes. The tannins provide the more bitter notes, and the sour notes are made up out of several kinds of fruit. A little bit of sour apple mixes with passionfruit, lemon, and lime. As those initial notes start to wear of a little, I also start experiencing the more briney notes with some salt water and charred meat making an appearance once again. Making the nose, palate and finish of this Maltman Williamson very coherent. With water I’m suddenly getting honey on the finish, and perhaps I could even see some fudge here as well. Either way, it’s a very nice and pleasant extra layer for sure!

Verdict:

I always love writing tasting notes on Laphroaig, because you get to write down the most repulsive sounding flavours and then close things off by saying that it was amazing. They know this themselves as well, which shows from the campaign where they announced sipping on their whisky was like kissing a cigar smoking walrus. This 9-year-old Williamson from The Maltman is Laphroaig at it’s finest. The place where maritime, meets medicinal, meets peat. The holy trifecta of offensive flavours, that make for a stellar dram! I absolutely love every second I spend with this whisky and if you like Laphroaig I will wholeheartedly recommend giving this one a try. But be warned… stay away if you don’t like Laphroaig, as this is a dram from that distillery in its rawest form. I deem it a step above their 10-year-old cask strength.

Rating:

92/100

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes. And how I determine rating and value.

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