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February 3, 2024 (edited February 12, 2024)
5.0 out of 5 stars
Laphroaig Cairdeas needs no introduction at this point. This is my fifth year of a Cairdeas, 2016-2020, and I’ve loved all of them before this. I expect nothing less of the Port & Wine Cask release.
Nose: Classic Laphroaig. Brine, seaweed, sea salt, idodine, tennis ball, campfire smoke, and peat. Bandaid. Dark chocolate. Ballpark pretzel. Hazelnut. Lemon and a huge grapefruit citrus note. A salsa note. Blackberry and raspberry. Black pepper, cinnamon, and oak.
Palate: Brine, seaweed, sea salt, campfire smoke, and iodine. Bandaid and tennis ball. Salted caramel and dark chocolate. Some mint chocolate as well. Juicy plum. Lemon and grapefruit. Some candy: black licorice and Twizzler. Toasted marshmallow, vanilla, and graham cracker. Add the chocolate from before and you’ve got s’mores. Tobacco smoke and ash. Black bean, red pepper chili. Smoked brisket and other meats. Black pepper, cinnamon, and oak.
Finish: Long. Dark chocolate. Sea salt, seaweed, and brine. Campfire smoke, tire rubber, tobacco smoke, bandaid. More smoked meat. Black bean, red pepper chili. Black pepper, cinnamon, and oak.
Amazing. Easily one of the best Cairdeas releases—maybe the best. I’ll have to sit with this one a while longer to make that sort of statement. Either way, this is fantastic. The port definitely makes itself known despite the massive power of the Laphroaig peat. I’m not sure what the other wine casks are, but the combination of sweet and peat is impeccable.
This one makes the 5-star club. An absolute gem. It’s a beast of a whisky at 52%, yet boasts a great deal of nuance and complexity. Every element that makes this whisky what it is elevates it—the casks and the peat make for an incredibly synergistic combination. It’s impressive and powerful. My only complaint is that this is a one-off. Well done, Laphroaig.
Next up in my Laphroaig series, is a sample of the 2020 Caidreas Port and Wine that was generously provided by @ctbeck11
The nose starts with a mix of strawberry jam on toasted sourdough, tangy barbecue sauce on smoked short ribs and light diesel fumes then light florals, dark chocolate mocha and toasted almonds followed by black cherries, raspberry sorbet and tangerine orange that transitions to light ginger and freshly opened can of tennis balls with high ethanol burn.
The taste is a medium mouthfeel starting with creamy and slightly tart red berries before a moderate bitter spice that quickly fades to a mix of toasted sourdough, tangy barbecue sauce smoked brisket, light ocean brine and light diesel fumes then light florals, dark chocolate covered bacon and almond croissant followed by cherries jubilee, dehydrated raspberries and tangerine orange that transitions to light ginger, asphalt and freshly opened can of tennis balls with high ethanol burn.
The finish is long, starting with a mix creamy sweet red berries and orchard fruits that fade to the background of smoky barbecued meats, light ocean brine, asphalt and mildly bitter black tea.
A really delicious and bold dram that the wine and port casks have imparted these slightly tart and sweet red berry flavors along with smoky meats, mild ocean brine and light spices. This suffers from some slight sour notes and the palate leans heavier on the spices than I’d prefer, but overall, it’s a hell of a dram that I think any fan of peated whiskies would thoroughly enjoy.
At a price of around $90 when these were released, this was another well-priced offering that provides a unique variation to the typical Laphroaig profile that I’d happily buy a bottle today if I happen to stumble on one on the shelves for the original retail price.
Ratings for the series so far:
10-year cask strength batch 11- 3.75
10-year sherry oak finish- 4.0
2019 Caidreas Triple Wood- 3.75
2020 Caidreas Port and Wine - 3.75
January 3, 2023 (edited January 16, 2023)
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very smoky and peaty as Laphroaig is, but not harsh like the standard 10 year is for me. Burnt popcorn is what this tastes like with some smoke thrown in. You get a bit of the port and wine towards the middle but it’s a very subtle addition for me.
It’s a stand out dram if you want that “in your face” smoke but in a balanced and tasty way.
I had this set aside for some sort of modestly special occasion, but I wasn't sure which one. Coming up on my 1300th tasting on Distiller, I was wondering what would be a suitable dram to choose. In the end, I chose this - partially because I didn't have anything that really matched up with the number 1300, but also partially because "Càirdeas" means 'friendship' and I sure have made some friends here along the way to this tasting. So, cheers to friendship and cheers to many more drams!
N: Some classic smoke, but it's also sweet. I get a bit of youthful character like seaweed with a dearth of wood, but the wood gradually works its way in with a mellow, restrained profile. Despite the youthfulness on display here, the profile doesn't have any excess sulphur. It's just kind of lighter and more vegetal. I get a bit of underheated ham as well. It's fully cooked, but its fat hasn't really rendered and it smells kind of cool.
It's funny that I don't really get a lot of port or wine influence here. There's some rich fruity sweetness filling this out, but it's mostly sort of a young, funky Laphroaig vibe. It isn't too young, but the balance is a bit off, in spite of the nice complexity.
P: Medicinal and funky. There's a lot of bandaid and bitter dry numbingness like some sort of gauze wiped with antiseptic and menthol. Big iodine. I get some fruity sweetness too, along with sort of a rich fullness that reminds me of PX sherry. Obviously, I get peaty smoke. It's quite peaty this time, with just a touch of youthful alcohol meatiness. I get some burn off of it, but not an unreasonable amount for 52% ABV by any means. There's a lightness here, with minerality and stony creek water filling in where I normally would expect mellow bourbon barrel characteristics. There still are mild spicy, old wood, and vanilla notes, but there's a gap separating them from the core pf the profile. I do also get a faint hint too much sulphur, but it isn't too bad.
There are vegetal, herbal, spicy notes as well that befit the combination of peated scotch and PX sherry - except it isn't PX sherry here. So maybe they make the port and wine taste more like PX sherry?
F: The finish retains some long-lived presence, but it's on the light side. the sweetness and other bold flavors retreat, leaving more toasty grain, malty still funk. It's less sweet than it was before, but it's not particularly bitter. I actually quite like this. It's more restrained and balanced than the other forms were.
- Conclusion -
This is a very nice release, despite being obviously youthful.
Side-by-side, Ardbeg 10 (16/23) is much richer with more toffee and caramel, whereas this has far more vegetal-herbal character. There's no doubt that the Ardbeg is more mature and balanced than this. This is obviously younger and more challenging, but it's still worth pursuing. I'm enjoying this, but it is quite challenging.
Amrut Peated (17/23) is clearly superior to this. I don't think that this is likely to be better than a lowish 16. I'm really thinking though that it's a 15.
I like this, but what a disappointment it is. I hope it's just a fluke among Càirdeas releases, but my impression is that Laphroaig 10 (17/23) is clearly better than this. This just isn't mature enough and it tastes like the port and wind casks are trying to obscure that.
Coming back for a final tasting, I'm appreciating this a bit more. The balance is still bad and the youthfulness is still quite apparent, but I like the peat presence. It's brash compared with The Shin 10 (16/23), which I also consider to be fairly brash. The Shin has a really nice mizunara flavor to it that this definitely doesn't have, but The Shin doesn't have the nice peat.
In the end, I'm confident that Ardbeg 10 is better than this, but The Shin is closer. I recall the Ardbeg being a high 16 and The Shin being a low 16, so this is still right on the fence between 15 and 16. I ultimately think that this is not quite as good as The Shin, so I'm sticking with a 15.