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Laphroaig has released a special, limited edition bottling every year since 2008, named Cairdeas. For those not fluent in Gaelic, "Cairdeas" (pronounced "CAR-chiss" or "CAR-chase") means "friendship". Every year, Distillery Manager (and my future best friend) John Campbell and his team select some Laphroaig casks to release as a special edition. Most years, the whisky gets a double maturation. For example, past Laphroaig Cairdeas editions have been finished in Port casks, Amontillado casks, Madeira casks (one of my personal favourites), and in 2018 they finished the whisky in Fino sherry casks.
According to this website, Fino sherry is an ideal apéritif wine and pairs with all types of tapa, especially olives, nuts, cured meats, and shellfish and fish, especially those with a marked salty taste (anchovies).That point should stand out to anyone already familiar with the Laphroaig flavour profile. If Fino sherry is an E-harmony worthy match with salty, savoury foods then it should be a no-brainer to pair it with the briny, iodine-laced goodness that is Laphroaig, right? I hope so, since I managed to land about 4 or 5 bottles of this stuff. Don't judge me !
Bottle opened January 5 2020, bottled at 51.8% abv
Neat from a Glencairn glass, January 5 2020
- Nose: peat, iodine, and brine, but brighter than the usual Laphroaig notes, not as smoky as you'd expect, nutty (almonds maybe), lemons, something savoury or umami, parmiggiano reggiano comes to mind, but it's not exactly "cheesy". Sweetness (almost like a tangy bbq sauce) developing with time. This is a complex nose.
- Palate: sweet and a bit light on arrival, no hint of the high abv, becoming a touch ashy, tangy, with orange zest, vanilla, almonds
- Finish: quite long, sweetness coming forward first with marshmallow and vanilla, cinnamon, then almonds and a savoury note returning, with some cigar smoke lingering a long time. Lovely.
- Thoughts: This is much different than I expected; I'm pleasantly surprised. It's subtle yet elegant. It doesn't have the instant WOW factor that the Cairdeas Madeira Cask had, but then I think Fino Sherry is a bit more subtle than Madeira wine. It will be interesting to see how this bottle evolves with time.
- Rating: 93/100
From a Glencairn glass with distilled water added, February 23 , 2020
- Nose: smokey, somewhat medicinal, with olive brine, vanilla, lemons, oranges, white grapes, maybe some grilled pineapple, seaweed
- Palate: medium bodied, smokey, medicinal, peppery, grilled lemons, oranges, a touch of barbecue sauce, a little nuttiness
- Finish: long and warming, briny, a mineral note that's typical of Laphroaig, vanilla, toasted marshmallows, campfire smoke and ash, a slight menthol note, cardamom.
- Rating: 93/100
March 20, neat from a Glencairn
- Nose: billowing vanilla smoke, brine, green olives, lemon zest, slightly resinous, eucalyptus
- Palate: full bodied, grilled pineapple, tangy bbq sauce, woodsmoke, orange zest
- Finish: very long, drying without being tannic, ashy cigar smoke, cinnamon, vanilla hanging around with just a touch of cardamom
- Final Rating: 93/100
I'm glad I didn't limit myself to one bottle of Laphroaig Cairdeas Fino Cask. It's a different cask finish from Laphroaig, and one I think works brilliantly. I finished my first bottle in March and I'm about a third of the way through my second bottle. This is a malt I crave regularly. If you're in a market where these are still available, I strongly recommend you scoop a few up.
- Would I accept a glass if it were offered to me? Absolutely
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Absolutely
- Would I purchase another bottle? Without hesitation.