Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015, NAS, 51,5 %
The festival bottling for the Feis Ile 2015 was something very special this year for Laphroaig, as they are celebrating their 200th anniversary. The whisky is called Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015. Cairdeas is an old Gaelic word for friendship, and these bottlings are exclusively made available to the Friends of Laphroaig (FoL).
We have been able to shop one or two bottles of the previous Cairdeas releases, but this year Laphroaig held a lottery to decide which FoLs would be able to purchase the whisky. Unfortunately we did not win this lottery.
The Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015 has an ABV of 51,5 %, where the last two digits indicate the year it was bottled. John Campbell, the master distiller a Laphroaig, tells the story of the whisky and how it was distilled in August 2003, making it almost 12 years old (source). The bottled whisky comes without any age statement, though. Barley floor malted at the distillery has been used exclusively here, and it has been matured in 1st fill bourbon barrels in warehouse No. 1. Another interesting fact is that is has been distilled only using the smallest stills at the distillery, which is supposed to give it a more fruity character than the ‘standard’ Laphroaig.
The retail price for the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015 was GBP 65.
Nose (23/25): Soft, delicate wood smoke and peat smoke mix with notes of fruit and vanilla. The peat smoke is both rich and subdued at the same time, the characteristic iodine or medicinal notes are present but take a backseat. I also find it to be quite fruity on the nose – red and green apples as well as grapes. Give it time in the glass and it will develop further – complex as it is; salt, malt and quality milk chocolate.
Taste (23/25): Very rich and creamy mouthfeel. This dram has that full-on creaminess that I so love in my Laphroaig. Very happy this whisky reached us at such a high ABV. It is quite spicy as well, and the peatiness is very rich. This is about as close as you can get to eating peat, without stuffing your mouth with an actual handful from the nearest peat bog. It is almost chewy – the peat turning into something akin to cold ashes. It is both a matter of (imagined?) texture and taste. There is some fruitiness and sweetness here, although a bit less than on the nose. Oranges (juice and zest actually) and apples. Vanilla, and mild caramel.
Finish (21/25): The sweetness and fruit is somewhat diluted on the finish, allowing the rich peatiness to shine in all its glory. I am having a tough time recalling any other whisky with such a complex and multifaceted peatiness. Its like a whole symphony of spices, but there’s no sharp edges here, it is thoroughly well-balanced.
Balance (23/25): I am sad to have missed out in the lottery the distillery held when this whisky was released. I am, however, very happy to have had a chance to taste it. Now to find the next great dram!