Tag Archives: cairdeas

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 Quarter Cask Review

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 Quarter Cask – Distiller: Laphroaig. Region: Islay. ABV: 57.2%. No age statement (5+ years). Price: $80.

The Laphroaig Quarter Cask is a justly beloved standard release from the Islay distillery. It’s a great next step for fans of the Laphroaig 10: they age their brash, briny malt for 5+ years in ex-Markers Mark casks, then finished for six months in quarter casks.

Quarter casks hold a mere 21 gallons, considerably less than the standard 53-gallon ex-bourbon cask. That translates to  more wood exposure per liter, and theoretically accelerated maturation. In practice, the influence small casks–sometimes overused by microdistillers who are rushing their product to market–can be unpredictable. But Laphroaig knows their stuff, and their quarter cask finish works wonderfully.

Enter the Cairdeas 2017 Quarter Cask. The Cairdeas is an annual limited edition that changes each year. (Last year’s was truly brilliant–see Thane’s review of it here.) This year’s release is a cask strength version of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, dialing the ABV up from the 48% of the standard release to 57.2%.

The potency does great things to an already fine release. The nose is unmistakably Laphroaig–sweet and peaty–but with a twist. Clementines, canned peaches, an enigmatic floral note. White chocolate—flecked with candied ginger.

The palate is salty and spicy, particularly without water. Red pepper flakes. Salted caramel. Dry smoke. With water, the palate gets a good deal sweeter. The peat tips toward mesquite–as opposed to the iodine of the Laphroaig 10–wrapped in a blanket of vanilla.

Ashiness and sweetness intertwine on the very long finish. There’s a hint of maple syrup, then a trail of white smoke that leads you all the way back to Islay.

The 2016 Cairdeas was a tough act to follow, but the 2017 won’t let Laphroaig fans down. Slàinte, friends! – BO

Buy Laphroaig online at Mash + Grape

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Review

Distiller: Laphroaig. Region: Islay. ABV: 51.2%. No age statement. Price: $80.

We’re nearing that time of the year when pumpkins lead to turkeys, which lead to elves on shelves and best-of lists litter the proverbial ground like so much left-over Halloween candy. And since I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, now seemed the appropriate time to let it fly.

I’m not going to bury the lead. With just over two months left in 2016, Laphroaig’s Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask is the best new single malt I’ve tasted this year.

I loved Ardbeg’s Dark Cove (and fully plan on buying a bottle or two or three), but the Cairdeas 2016 just hits every one of my happy-happy-joy-joy spots.

There’s a faint scent of raspberry on the nose, which melds beautifully with the expected peat and ash, along with crispy smoked pork and the usual slightly medicinal aromas.

The palate has a delicate layer of brine, which works just wonderfully with the peat. I caught more of that slow-roasted meat around the edges, along with some spice and an ever-so-light citrus.

And, man, the finish is something to rave about all by itself. It’s quite long, which allowed me to linger on the roasted lemons, peat, and red wine that came to the fore.

All that’s left to say is that I heartily encourage anyone to discover it, but if you’re an Islay lover like me, this and the Dark Cove are the absolute must-haves of 2016.

There’s still around 65 days left in the year, so I’m not saying it’s my absolute favorite of the year, but there’s little question that it’ll crack my top five.

Here’s to beauty and complexity in our spirits, both those we drink, and those we have within. – TM