Cairdeas. A Gaelic word that means ‘friendship’. The word itself, for those phonetically curious, is pronounced somewhere between ‘car-chess’ and ‘car-chase’ (depending on how thick the accent of the speaker is). These annual releases from our good friends at Laphroaig were originally launched as an exclusive for that ever burgeoning group of peat geeks known as the ‘Friends Of Laphroaig’. In recent years, Laphroaig has upped the outturn on these Cairdeas expressions, and they’re now quite readily available in most markets.
Through all of its various incarnations over the years, there’s one thing that has been fairly consistent with Cairdeas: the presentation of a strong natural whisky of high quality and character. I honestly haven’t regretted buying a single one of them. These releases have been a mixed bag of ages and styles, but the Laphroaig profile (earthy, smoky, peaty, medicinal) has been omnipresent throughout. The subtleties change, of course, but that familiar and homey style we all love remains intact.
Highly recommended from this guy.
Now…before we get to the whisky…a quick toast…
This one is for all of the whisky folk out there (bloggers and writers and schillers, oh my!) who seem to have gotten just a little too friendly with the industry of late. Perhaps it’s a testament to the wisdom of Sun-Tzu. Hmmmm…wish I could believe that.
Laphroaig Cairdeas Master Edition 2010
Nose: This one has the softest nose among these four. Reminds a little of Laphroaig 18, but jacked up a notch or two. Smoke, of course. And peat. White pepper. Ginger. Soft green melon. Key lime pie. Green ju-jubes. A fleeting glimpse of bubble gum. Slightly minty. A touch of clean oak. Wee hint of rubber.
Palate: Again…soft and beautiful. Love the candy notes and gentle fruits. Dry smoke leads into peat, then explodes in sweet notes. Crisp green pear and MacIntosh apple skins. Light (very light) orange juice and lemon notes. The toasted crust of good creme brulee.
Thoughts: Good balance of old and young. Aging peat is a thing of beauty. So much harmony between the nose and palate. Apparently this is a mix of 11-19 year casks, and you can definitely see the influence of the older whiskies within.
Laphroaig Cairdeas Ileach Edition 2011
Nose: Mint Leaves jelly candies. Peat and earth. Smoke, but it’s not quite as big as I’d normally expect. Iodine. Brine. Dark soil. Lemon rind. Salt and pepper. Creamy, soft mild cigar tobacco notes. A touch of vanilla. Soft white / green fruit. Bread dough.
Palate: Peppery, right off the bat. Slightly drying too. Fruit candy sweetness. Smoke and wet rock. Nutty, earthy notes. Dry ginger. Quite a sweet development throughout. Wet ash. Fresh lemon squeezed over oysters on the shell.
Thoughts: Young-ish, but who cares? Peat is a hell of a ride when offered up in its youth. And there are definitely no flaws in the actual whisky here. A great version from a much-loved distillery.
Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin 2012
Nose: Smoke and a very coastal iodine tang. Salty dough. Organic, peaty notes. Damp ash (a fire put out with saltwater!). Dusty, old wood (maybe dunnage?). A faint note of peppered greens. Fresh dill. Dirt. Soft caramel notes. Seems slightly older than the 2011 edition.
Palate: Pepper leads (with some salty / briny notes as well). Apple. Smoked shellfish. A fair bit of rubber. Smoked grains. Licorice or fennel. More of that peppery bite again. Ginger. Dirt and wet rocks. A mouthful of ocean water.
Thoughts: I initially fell in love with this one while at the distillery in late 2012. Happy to report we’re still in love. It was a treat when this release landed on Canadian shores last year. I immediately snapped some up.
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014
Nose: Slightly farmy. Warm saddle. Hay and horse blanket. Zesty…almost savoury (tomato sauce-ish). Big, clouds of smoke, but very much dampened by the sweetness of the sherry influence. Peat. Cinnamon, pepper and ginger. Notes of good marmalade.
Palate: Rubber. Yep. A fairly hefty amount of smoke and warm rubber. An odd oregano-like note. Kinda flinty. Very dirty Laphroaig (in other words: awesome). Medicinal notes. Play dough. Granny Smith apple. Quite earthy. Deep spice, almost chili-esque. Surprisingly savoury overall.
Thoughts: Peat and sweet. Love the marriage of mighty Laphroaig and soft sherry. This is a heck of a dram. Wish I knew the age on it.
– Images & Words: Curt