Laphroaig needs no introduction, and neither does its Cairdeas series, which as we’ve mentioned in the past, means “friendship” in Gaelic. This is the 2014 edition of Cairdeas, finished in Amontillado casks. Amontillado, the Sherry wine named for the Spanish region of Montilla, has a rich amber color that is transferred to this scotch when it is finished in the used casks.
Type: Islay Scotch
Color: Dark Straw
Aroma: Musky peat smoke, figs, and hazelnuts, with hints of lemon zest. Strong undertones of sherry and wet hay.
Palate: Sherry, cereal, dried fruits. Long, peat smoke finish.
Andrew: What I love about the Cairdeas series is that every year is a new attempt to find an interesting take on Laphroaig. The 2014 Cairdeas is no exception, and while it’s not nearly as good as the 2013 port wood finish, the Amontillado finish presents a new perspective on a whiskey I thought I knew well. The winey notes are clear, but so are new notes of figs, nuts, and lemons. I’m looking forward to the 2015 edition.
Michael: Whether it’s fair or not, the 2014 Cairdeas will always be judged on its immediate predecessor, the 2013 edition, which was simply masterfully done. The 2014 edition is an excellent whisky in its own right — Laphroaig with a twist of American bourbon barrels and dry sherry — a combination that combines wonderfully. The 2014 edition has grown on me as I have worked my way through the bottle over several months. Cairdeas 2014 is a wonderful complex whisky, even if I was initially disappointed that it did not achieve the mastery of the 2013 edition. Such is the nature of experimental limited releases.
Verdict: Stars, the eighth level of Paradiso.