- DISTILLER: Laphroaig Distillery
- MASH BILL: 100% Malted Barley
- AGE: “Features different ages of Laphroaig matured for more than five years in first-fill bourbon casks, then laid to rest for a second time in smaller quarter casks. After six months of further maturation, the liquid from 177 of the casks was bottled at Cask Strength — no color added, no chilling and a simple barrier filtration.”
- YEAR: 2017
- PROOF: 114.4 (57.2% ABV)
- MSRP: $79.99
- BUY ONLINE: Friends of Laphroaig® can purchase directly from Laphroaig here. If you’re not a FOL yet, keep an eye out at the larger retailers or inquire at your local whisky shop for availability.
NOSE: Buttered Bread | Peat / Smoke | Vanilla Spice | Lemony Citrus
TASTE: Sweet Smoke | Peat | White Pepper | Crème Brulee
FINISH: Long, mouth watering sweet peat finish. The smoke lingers and compliments the earthy pepper perfectly. A little heat is unavoidable at these higher ABV’s but the lingering oak and vanillas keep the flames in check.
SHARE WITH: Anyone who shows even remote interest. While that revered Islay charm is definitely present, it’s not going to make your eyes water just from being in the same room as the opened bottle. Fans of any cask strength spirit should give it a taste just to see how balanced and graceful a peated cask strength expression can be.
WORTH THE PRICE: Yes! I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the biggest peat freak out there, but even with its healthy dose of peat and smoke, the balance achieved makes this one I’ll be looking to add to my collection.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: If you can find one, it’s a bottle buy for sure. Otherwise, maybe play that whole ‘friendship card’ thing with someone who has a bottle and that may be enough for them to share with you.
OVERALL: Upon opening the sample bottle, I was prepared to be hit with a solid whiff of peat, but to my surprise, I was met with a softer, sweeter, creamy buttered biscuit. It wasn’t long at all before that familiar peaty profile made its presence known, and a more direct nosing confirmed as much… but in a most delightful way. There is a bit of burn that comes with the higher ABV, but it is quickly doused by the evolving undertones of oak, vanilla, and that sweet, sweet smoke. A few drops of water brought out a rubberiness to the nose and an uptick of pepper in the palate, but all the while maintained its overall sweeter, earthy character so iconic to the Laphroaig Distillery.
Each year, Laphroaig Distillery Manager, John Campbell, crafts a limited edition malt to celebrate friendship (“Cairdeas” in Gaelic). For several years, Friends of Laphroaig® have been yearning for a Cask Strength version of the popular Laphroaig Quarter Cask expression, which offers an irresistible doubling of flavor, due to the double maturation in two American oak barrels. This year, that dream becomes a reality with Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask.
The 2017 bottling of Cairdeas features different ages of Laphroaig matured for more than five years in first-fill bourbon casks, then laid to rest for a second time in smaller quarter casks. After six months of further maturation, the liquid from 177 of the casks was bottled at Cask Strength — no color added, no chilling and a simple barrier filtration.
COLOR: Golden amber
NOSE: Gentle coffee cream and freshly sliced vanilla pods, building into sweet mint with notes of old hay and a background of beach bonfire then freshly sanded wood
BODY: Full bodied and complex
PALATE: A sweet vanilla dryness that develops into a creamy, oily mouth feel with bitter licorice root and a throat full of smoke
FINISH: Long, creamy and smoky
Laphroaig (La-‘froyg) literally means “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay.” Born from the streams and blue peat smoke of Islay, Laphroaig® is a Single Malt Scotch Whisky with a distinct taste and story in every bottle. The secret to Laphroaig is that it benefits from the happy circumstances of where it is produced—next to ocean water and on land that gives Laphroaig a unique peaty taste. It is one of only a few distilleries that still uses traditional malting floors and dries and infuses its own malt with the thick blue smoke from old peat-fired kilns. It’s also the only Single Malt Scotch Whisky to bear a Royal Warrant bestowed by HRH Prince Charles. Further demonstrating the whisky’s superior quality, Laphroaig 10 Year Old received Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation and a score of 97/100 at the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, Laphroaig® Lore™ won Double Gold and Best of Class Single Malt Scotch at the 2017 Denver International Spirits Competition, as well as Double Gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and Laphroaig Select received Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation and a score of 95/100 at the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
Laphroaig encourages fans across the world to share their opinion of its expressions via their global campaign, #OpinionsWelcome™. The campaign commemorates the passion of an enlightened few and showcases their candid, real-life opinions of the liquid. Friends can share their own opinions at www.Laphroaig.com/Opinions or on social media with the hashtag #OpinionsWelcome.
A FEW ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ABOUT LAPHROAIG CAIRDEAS QUARTER CASK
It just seems that whisky and friendship inherently go hand in hand. Sure, we’ve all come home from a long, hard day’s work and poured ourselves a measure of our favorite mood enhancing elixir to help unwind, and while those moments can be a highly satisfying way to relax in solitude, it has been my experience that by adding a few friends to the mix, the joy derived from that same glass of whisky can easily multiply tenfold. Stories are freely exchanged and moods are quickly lifted as smiles and laughter abound.
Enter Laphroaig Cairdeas… As many of you are already aware, the word “Cairdeas” itself is a Gaelic word that means ‘friendship”, and this year’s Quarter Cask release is extra friendly indeed. What makes it so special? Well, if the double maturation periods of the standard Quarter Cask release weren’t enough (5+ years in traditional ex-bourbon barrels, followed by a second maturation period in smaller quarter casks), this limited edition Cairdeas also has no color added and is non chill filtered… but the kicker is that it is then bottled at cask strength! Let us all rejoice! For years, the Friends of Laphroaig have been calling for just that, and this time around, Distillery Manager John Campbell delivers. So, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a bottle, I’d highly recommend it. And if you want to make a big splash with your friends, serve them up a few fingers worth at your next get together to let them know how much you care. Cheers friends! #drinkcurious
Disclaimer: Laphroaig provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.