This is an abridged version of a blog entry I'm hoping to post tomorrow
Care-dee-ass? Car-deez? Is that Portuguese? According to Laphroaig's Distillery Manager John Campbell, it's pronounced "car-chiss". Cairdeas is Scots Gaelic for "friendship" and the name makes sense. Laphroaig offers a rewards program to its faithful customers, known as "Friends of Laphroaig". Aside from the square foot of land a FoL is "given", one of the main perks of membership in Friends of Laphroaig is a chance to buy unique Cairdeas bottlings before they go on sale to the general public. Sadly, the LCBO frowns upon anything fun or creative that offers any value or joy to any of its customers. These Cairdeas releases are hard to find on LCBO shelves outside of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), and are usually a year late if they arrive at all. Fortunately, if you have friends or family who travel abroad, there are still gems to be found. The 2016 edition of Laphroaig Cairdeas was "fully matured" (though no age is given, so make of that what you will) and then finished in Portuguese Madeira wine casks. How does this Portuguese wine influence the salty, tarry, smoky goodness of Laphroaig? Does it work as well as Seu Jorge singing "Life On Mars?" in Portuguese in a Bill Murray movie (The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou)? Seriously, if you haven't seen that movie, do it now.
- Nose (undiluted): very light and bright, red fruits popping before the classic Laphroaig maritime character (brine, iodine, peat and smoke) appears. The vanilla notes are present, but subdued.
- Palate (undiluted): gentle arrival, with a nice, oily mouthfeel, I wouldn’t have guessed this is 51.6% ABV. More red fruit; cherries, strawberries, red licorice (cherry nibs), giving way to rich tobacco smoke.
- Finish: medium length, more smoke, cream, strawberry jam, hazelnuts, and a bit of oak.
With water, the fruit is subdued on the nose and the vanilla comes forward with the classic Laphroaig maritime nose of a bonfire on a seaweed-filled beach. The flavour of the barley comes through a bit more with water as well; think toasted whole grain bread. The finish becomes creamier with water, but it's a trade-off as the fruit is less pronounced. This Laphroaig won’t be for every Laphroaigophile. It’s much fruitier than most of their offerings, but it works brilliantly. I prefer it without water.
Some people don't do well with change; they prefer the tried and true. This Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask received mixed reviews, as did The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Keep in mind that the Wes Anderson film has become something of a cult classic in recent times, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the same thing happen with this Laphroaig bottling. It's complex, intriguing, and it just works for me, like listening to a stripped-down, Portuguese version of a classic David Bowie song. Very highly recommended.
Great review as always, I really enjoyed this one and thought it was a great follow up to the 2015 (which was my ATF), I've still got one bottle in the cave for a rainy day.
I totally hear you, the reviews were so mixed on this one with a real love it or hate it divide. I think hindsight is interesting as I'm sure some folks would likely have a different take on things today.
These can make you wish Laphroaig quit the fuckery and put out a dependable range rather than this game of musical chairs they've been on for a few years now.
@cricklewood Interesting comment. I received a large sample of this from @Fiddich1980 3 years ago and I've tasted it several times. It's not bad. One of these days I will get around to reviewing it. I don't have a bottle of this and I'm ok with that. I too preferred the 2015. Thanks to @paddockjudge I have a couple of those. Once I have depleted my open Laphroaig bottles that is one I would like to open. At this point, opening something new will have to be in a group setting.