My first experience with Laphroaig occurred several years ago when our very generous friend Miracle Max brought a bottle of the Laphroaig 10 to a whisky tasting hosted by The ROK. When he uncorked that bottle, it was like he laid a smoldering camp fire down in the middle of the room. To say that it was polarizing would be an understatement! Most of those gathered didn’t care for it, but for me, it was love at first sip.
Since that initial tasting of the 10, I have had the 18, 25, 30, Triple Wood, Quarter Cask, and Cask Strength 10 expressions. To say that I’m a big fan of these whiskies would be yet another understatement. I am even a proud owner of my very own “Square Foot of Islay“!
This past November, during a drinking session with Limpd and Yossi of the JewMalt Whisky Reviews blog at The Cooperage, I ordered a dram of the Laphroiag Cairdeas, a limited edition Single Malt Whisky that they released for the 2011 Feis Ile (aka, the Islay Festival of Music and Malt). I liked it so much that I asked for a bottle this past Christmas. Unfortunately, I had to “settle” for a bottle of the standard issue Laphroiag 10. I know, I know… poor me! Or should that have read “pour me”???
Thanks to the generosity of Sean Foushee (@WhiskyMarks on Twitter; @smfoushee on Instagram), and a brief conversation that we had via Instagram, we were able to arrange a whisky trade. He gave me a 200ML sample of the Laphroaig Cairdeas in exchange for samples of the Mackmyra 1st Edition and Angel’s Envy.
Other than a brief review or two, I wasn’t able to find much information about this whisky, but I was able to get the following information about the annual Islay Festival of Music and Malt, courtesy of the Scotland Whisky website…
Feis Ile – the Islay Festival of Malt and Music – was founded by the local people of Islay in 1986 to celebrate the heritage and culture of Isle of Islay and to provide a pan cultural and activity based series of events. The Feis starts on the last weekend of May each year and lasts for one week.
Islay has a wealth of musical talent, which is very much in evidence at the ceilidhs. Mainland artistes are also brought to the island for the festival week. Since 2000 Feis Ile has been run in conjunction with the distilleries of Islay and Jura and Port Ellen Maltings. Each distillery has its own open day, putting on special events. Concerts, ceilidhs, children’s shows, distillery open days, guided walks and sporting events – there is something for everyone.
Feis Ile is definitely on my list of things to do, but since that won’t be happening anytime soon, I will have to settle for a taste of a whisky that was created in honor of this very special event.
Let’s get on with the review…
- Appearance: Pale, golden yellow. Thin, slow moving legs.
- Aroma: That classic peat smoke welcomes you immediately. Once you work past it, some light fruity notes come through, i.e. green apple and unripened pears. Mint, iodine, licorice, and other herbal/medicinal aromas are there too.
- Taste: Very light mouthfeel, i.e. slightly thin and watery. Very sharp and peppery at first, with all of the peat and medicinal notes front and center. Iodine, brine, and menthol kick in towards the middle. Hot, cracked pepper finish that lingers for quite awhile. The finish is also somewhat drying, with a licorice like aftertaste.
- ABV: 50.5%
I am happy to report that I truly enjoyed the Laphroaig Cairdeas as much as I did the first time around. It has all of the elements that I have come to expect from Laphroiag, but this time, in a lighter and more vibrant form. While the flavors are not as deep and rich as their older expressions (the Cairdeas carries no age statement, but most suspect that it is far younger than the 10 year old expression), it is still just as flavorful. I am particularly impressed at how it hides its relatively high alcohol content. Once again, this is yet another great whisky from our friends at Laphroaig!
Thanks again to Sean Foushee for this very generous sample!