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Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

Average score from 6 reviews and 7 ratings 89

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

Product details

  • Brand: Laphroaig
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 51.4%

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Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

I really like "Car Dash" Portwood. In my opinion, only curmudgeons that are set in their ways might suffer from an inability to appreciate this very unique offering by Laphroaig. Yes, it's radically different from the typical Laphroaig taste profile, but I welcome the diversity.

After all, so much of Laphroaig is really just subtle differences of the same essential characteristics. 2013's Feis Ille was truly unique, and truly original. For this reason, I feel that it is destined to become a collector's item.

Why? Because the most unique collector's items that differ from mass produced and readily available stock are the items that tend to be valued the highest. Of course, the other notable qualifier is quantity. The 2013 Cairdeas was fewer and farther between than the 2014 will be, from what I've heard.

Now, let's move on to the tasting notes, shall we?

Nose: This is where the 2013 Feis Ille really distinguishes itself. The nose is multivarious and quite unique. In a way, it reminds me of a Bunnahabhain more than a Laphroaig. This said, if it were a Bunna, it would be a very good one indeed!

A savory peatiness wafts out of the glass with hints prosciutto, along with succulent fruits like Juan melon and guava. Smoke also lends a hand, encircling the savory notes and fruity notes delightfully, like a nice hardwood fire in the hearth. I would venture to call the whole mixture "creamy" as in actual cream. There is a kind of smooth dairy quality that I find especially appealing which tends to subdue "loud" individual notes, causing a type of welcome harmony for the nose to appreciate.

Palate: The nose, while more complex, does not immediately yield into the palate. In other words, the palate is surprisingly different from the nose. Yes, the peat and the smoke are there, but wild berries quickly emerge from the "cloud of unknowing" to amuse and delight yet again. Unexpected black current, Marion berries, black plumbs, and just a hint of lemon rind also surface on the tongue and in the mouth. Stewed lamb and prunes also fit in there somehow as my brain was trying to come to grips with what I was tasting. Believe it or not some of these savory elements reminded me of a few Moroccan dishes that I've enjoyed while living in Manhattan's East Village in the 1990's.

Finish: A gentle touch of peat and smoke resume, along with a very faint woodiness that is only a minor note and fairly inconspicuous. The wood evidently reminds some critics of mint. Not so for me, but I can see why this came to mind. The finish is alternately oily and then drying. The creaminess reemerges enough to fool some critics into reporting that the finish is merely medium. I find it slightly longer, but the notes are gentle. This said, hints of the palette linger fairly long, but turned down on a far lower "setting" than most Laphroaigs. It is a fairly long but gentle and forgiving finish.

There is a lot to please here in this adventurous offering by Laphroig. I applaud the distillery on its willingness to experiment in a festive seasonal offering. And why not? The standard cabinet of offerings is still available for those who prefer a more standard profile.

Bravo, Laphroaig! Yes, this offering does remind me a little of a Bunnahabhain, but in a good way. Distillery Manager John Campbell went out on a limb with the 2013 Feis Ille offering and it paid off. Well done, John!

One last thing: Do I detect just a touch of some older spirits in here? Smooth, smooth, smooth. Mum's the word.

@MaltActivist, I fall out closer to @rigmorole on 2013 Laphroaig Cairdeas Port Wood. It is different from other Laphroaigs to be sure, but quite enjoyable. I've tasted it and am also sitting on a bottle which will likely remain unopened and unreviewed by me for another year or two, or more.

That is a lovingly executed review, @rigmorole. Thanks!

My one major criticism of the portwood: in the glass, after one hour, even with a cover on the glass for the full one hour, this whisky loses its vitality to a perilous degree. Flavor and depth: gone. Conversely, the cask strength is not dimished. It still stays vital and possibly even better after an hour (when covered).


I have to admit the last year or so haven't been very good for my two favorite distilleries, Ardbeg and Laphroaig. Generally an honest, if not a tad overzealous, fan of anything to come out of these two Islay giants I had been having a hard time justifying my obsession.

Ardbeg has decided to continue disappointing us every year on June 2nd, Ardbeg Day. The Auriverdes being a very good, and latest, example of that.

Laphroaig, too, had a less than stellar year, in my opinion. Of the new releases the Cask Strength series are quite noteworthy. However, I wasn't very taken with last years' Cairdeas Edition - the 2013 Portwood. Quite weak and listless and representing just a shadow of the great flavors this distillery produces year after year.

This was followed by the QA which, in my opinion, is possibly one of the worst whiskies to be released to an unsuspecting public. This was followed by the Laphroaig Select which has, to put it mildly, been described as 'tepid bum water'.

So you can imagine my growing sense of dread as I began to fear if I would ever taste anything sublime with the word 'Laphroaig' on it. Well, I should not have worried.

2014's Feis Ile, the Amontillado finish, is quite possibly one of the best whiskies to come out of Laphroaig. Matured in first-fill bourbon casks and then finished for a year in Amontillado wine there is a complex brilliance to this spirit.

Nose: An immediate sprinkle of mild spices. Garam masala and cinnamon. Quite lemony too. The citrus is layered with that familiar iodine but there is a hint of spearmint too. A bit like iodex. A second wave brings strong black licorice and peat with a touch of cardboard. This is a beautifully balanced nose.

Palate: Subtle smoke and curry powder. Freshly baked biscuits with a lemon and butterscotch centre. But what I liked best was that truly unusual under-ripe savory plum. The creamy texture coats your palate beautifully and caresses your taste buds in layers. Scrumptious.

Finish: Clove and that dry licorice again with a touch of bitter oak.

This is an absolute corker of a whisky and has allayed any fears I might have had about the decline in quality of my Laphroaigs.

Interesting to read that you much prefer the 2014 over the 2013. I had passed on this year's thus far because everything I've read up to this point suggested that it was good, but not great. Here's one example:

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 Amontillado Edition isn’t the out of the park home run that last year’s Port Wood Edition was, but it’s a very well crafted exploration of Laphroaig’s core ashy peat. The Amontillado brings some interesting things to the equation, and for Laphroaig fans who love its signature ashy peat, this will be quite a treat. 90 Points.

I may have to reconsider before they are sold out.

@Victor You should be able to find it still, in the US (more easily than in Europe for example). I find it somewhat close to your Uigeadail L10 151 but spicier and less cane-sugary, so you might want to just get a taste sample if/when you can.


Laphroaig is one of those iconic distilleries from Scotland that have built up a strong reputation of coming up with some absolute cracking expressions at regular intervals and believe me when I say this the 2014 Cairdeas release from them has only strengthened their reputation. Usually one hopes for something interesting from a spirit that has matured in both Bourbon barrels and Amontillado hogsheads. But this whisky goes well beyond just interesting and produces an outstanding medley of flavors that the spirit inherited from either cask and each of these are presented in just the perfect amount.

Nose: The opening notes from the whisky are typically Laphroaig… its like you were at their doorstep and they came to welcome you..with the usual smoke and iodine that is so reminiscent of them . As soon as this is done..the notes that have been gifted to the spirit by each cask make their presence felt..starting with the sweet caramel and cinnamon.. possibly from the Bourbon Cask followed by some nice sweet and minty notes.. more like one of those lovely ‘After 8’ sweets..There is also some distinct under ripe fruit aromas ..for me I’d say possibly guavas. At the there is some wood and lime left lingering behind..

Palate: The palate begins with some sweet honey and the smoke which is carried forward from the nose but almost simultaneously there is a rapid dryness that envelopes your mouth courtesy the sherry cask. Then comes the spice and this one is fairly spicy .. well definitely not overdone though. Have to admit that this is one full bodied and creamy dram. Have to add though that there are also some nutty notes in the mix. Once again both casks have made their contributions clearly felt on the palate as well

Finish: The finish is mildly dry with a dash of spices and possibly some dark chocolate too.. I would have to agree that these notes do linger on for quite a while.. making for a pleasant after taste of the great dram that you just savored

The perfect balance to this whisky coming from the right amount of flavors coming in after the double maturation is what makes this so special.

Slainte.. Laphroaig.. another feather in the cap this one!!


It's that time of year again - the annual Cairdeas release is upon us. This will be the third one in a row I've tried. And I've got a brand new 'Friends of Laphroaig' glass for this.

With a few drops of water...

Nose: Very sweet. With sticky pudding and red fruit notes. Even a hint of peaches. The Amontillado casks used have imparted a lot of their flavour. So much so that it dominates the smokiness which is only there in the background.

Palate: Much more classic Laphroaig now. The medicinal smoky notes immediately hit but there then follows a wave of sweet red fruit. Strawberries and raspberries, even slightly treacly - relatively thick mouthfeel.

Finish: The sweet fruit slowly, (and I mean slowly) fades to leave a dry slightly bitter and ashy finish.

It's a little bit like Ardbeg's Uigeadail and a very pleasing dram. If I was to nitpick I'd say it was a little bit unbalanced towards the sweet fruit side leaving Laphroaig's traditional smokey character lagging behind a bit. But then again, aren't the Cairdeas releases all about trying things a bit different?

@nemesis Thanks for an honest appraisal. The annual Laphroaig Cairdeas releases are always exciting and awaited with anticipation. Your description is excellent and as a Laphroaig fan I feel I already know what to expect.


Laphroaig Fèis Ile 2013: Cairdeas Port Wood Finish, truly an odd fellow of Islay. Exciting, yet a bit too weird for my taste. Still, a dram worth tasting, that's for sure.

Laphroaig Cairdeas Port Wood Finish literally gives you my movie reference, The Odd Couple, with pink hue and jam combined with Laphroaig kind of smoke. Even the name Cairdeas means "friendship" in Gaelic.

This whisky has two sides: it's refreshing, bringing something new to the usual Islay palate but it still is pretty odd for my taste. Just try it yourself and be the judge. Well, that's really the case with every whisky but especially with Laphroaig Cairdeas Port Wood Finish. I'm sure that anything I say about it's exciting aromas, might be the opposite of someone elses opinion.

Nose: Dark fruits combined with "signature Laphroaig smoke". Raspberry jam and blood oranges clash weirdly with the rising smoke from the background.

Taste: Sour citrus fruits with hints of vanilla. Sweet peat and dark red marmalade jam together nicely.

Finish: Smoke and peppers take over nicely the dry citrus and red fruits.

Balance: Exciting and adventurous dram with a very characteristic nose indeed.

Thanks for the review. You know I've been debating getting this scotch. But after your review I think I'm going to pass. Some give this pw laphraoig high marks others like you,score it decent. Hit and miss it seems and since I only like cask strength it be a risk for me. So thanks for this review. Cheers!

Yeah, I wouldn't buy a whole bottle. For a sample from some webshop or a shot from your local bar I must recommend it because it is eccentric


Nose: sweet wood (Quarter Cask involvement?), dark fruits (like plums), band aids, some alcohol heat (even with two drops of water)

Palate: vanilla extract, wood, sweet peat (QC?) , salt, pepper--but also with blood oranges, sour citrus, raisins, strawberry jam

Finish: similar to the palate but with smoke mingling nicely with the citrus and red fruits.

I like this. It’s a bit hot compared to the 10 CS, probably due to the younger whisky in the mix, but it’s a really interesting variation on the Laphroaig house style. It tastes like a higher proof Quarter Cask that has been matured in Port. It is difficult to compare this whisky to anything but other bottles of Laphroaig. The smoked fruit effect doesn’t feel forced, but the flavors in this whisky also don’t feel quite as well-integrated (and full bodied) as Ardbeg‘s “winey” or fruity whiskies like Ardbog and some batches of the Uigeadail. The 2013 Cairdeas also not as elegant as some of the Diageo DE’s like Talisker and Lagavulin, which both matured in Sherry. Here, the fortified wine influence does not really tone down the peat, and these two competing sets of flavor (peat and port) make this a fairly complex whisky. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops as the peat loses some of its punch with air and time and--hopefully--the fruit comes even more into the foreground.

If you like young, high test Laphroaig and are open to having some red fruit accents along with your medicinal, smoky flavors, this pink whisky may be for you.

Nice review. Any idea where a bottle of this expression can be found? I know availability in the usa is limited.

Thanks. I bought it in Baltimore , MD. If it's that limited, maybe I should pick up an extra bottle...

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