Much like Ardbeg, Laphroaig celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2015, and offered many celebratory offerings (many of which we tasted here), including this No Aged Statement whisky they put out every year. The “Cairdeas” is tailor made to suit the situation, and the creative brain trust at Laphroaig have sought to offer the essence of what makes their distillery so renowned in this anniversary malt. Made using 100% floor malted barley and using the smallest, oldest stills at the distillery, then matured for around 12 years. This also marks a first for Scotchology, returning to a Scotch we explored in February 2014, one of our early selections. While we’ve reviewed Scotches from the same distillery, this is the first time we’ve revisited the same whisky, even if the purposefully different yearly releases do not make this completely comparative.
Location: Port Ellen
Nose: Smoke, vanilla, brine, orange zest
Palate: Smoke, burnt sugar, spice, peat, moss
Finish: Vanilla, smoked sausage, peat
Comments: A bonus for getting this at a tasting, our bottle is signed by Laphroaig Ambassador Simon Brooking!
Adam – 2015 was a Laphraoig revelation for me. After some early harsh experiences with the 10 year, I have continually found a sour finish in many expressions that feels like a sharp veer in an otherwise pleasant taste arc. The tasting at Ace Spirit’s showed me different, with the 15 and 18 standing second to only this Cairdeas. What a redemption, especially after the Port Wood’s disappointment. The strength of flavor is refined without losing any potency and there is no sour detour in the finish I find so prevalent in younger offerings. Big, bold, and Islay. Sign me up!
Jenny – Delicious for winter. Very smoky, a little bit of peat. Vanilla in the finish. At the very end of the finish, I get a smoked sausage flavor in the back, but in a delicious way. Some Scotches die really quickly, but if starts at the front of your tongue, but this is a wave of flavor that washes of very our whole tongue and evolves the whole way. It fills your whole mouth with flavor. I can see how a lot of people could enjoy this.
Meghan – I was very happy to discover that Cairdeas is something that changes yearly as I really did not enjoy the first one we had. I do like this one – it feels like a classic yet approachable Islay. I love the smokey citrus on the nose but then, that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has read my posts regularly. This is one of the Scotches that makes me wish the entire world could smell like it. Most of the time I didn’t think it needed water but on my last tasting, it did seem quite hot. It may be a personal chemistry thing that can vary. The palate has a chewy deep greenness to it, with a hint of the kind of damp, dark moss you find deep in the forest. It is a deciduous green versus the pine forest greenness of the earlier Companta. There is a lovely warm and lingering finish with a delightful and surprising smoked sausage flavor. Once in a while we have seen meat, sausage, etc. be listed on a flavor profile (and we’ve definitely encountered bacon on noses) but this was the first time that I personally tasted that flavor. It always seemed like an elusive unicorn of flavors so it was exciting to actually taste that aspect. If my first experience with a Cairdeas as “with friends like that, who needs enemies?” my song has changed with the 2015 release and I will embrace this Celtic friendship.
Michael – I thought it was a little too hot without water. The heat was masking some of the flavors, though that didn’t seem to be the consensus of the group. With water, I thought it had a nice balance between smoke and burnt sugar flavor. Also, I think it s a great winter scotch. It has a nice lingering finish. It isn’t a very layered flavors, this wasn’t so much that, but it feels very well balanced and straight forward.
Henry – Laphroaig has always played second fiddle to Ardbeg in my appreciation of Islay whiskies, primarily because of its tendency to be a little rougher around the edges than the more polished Ardbegs – rustic-hewn furniture instead of the shiny polished wood and amber. However, I like rustic, especially when it’s Islay rustic. My little cottage by the sea has room for both. Straw-colored and less oily than I’d expect, honey and brine take charge of the nose, with peated grain and smoke joining the dance by mid-palate. Peat lingers the longest in the finish, which is surprisingly both light and tenacious. Honey – I’m home!