Laphroiag Cairdeas 2015
Last month my brother and I attended a tasting at the SAQ, upon paying we we’re informed of a last minute substitution in the line-up, a wine finished Caol Ila for Aberfeldy 21. It meant that 3 of the 4 scotches we we’re about to taste would be peated. This didn’t pose a problem for me, while I am not strictly peat-focused, I do embrace the more challenging aspects of any whisky experience.
My poor brother though is definitely not a fan of all things peat, he lovingly refers to peated Islay as “gasoline” or “sirop Lambert” (a once popular brand of cough syrup sold in Québec). In his defence, he does like the more smoky touch of peat as is successfully integrated in many blends (JW Green & Blue, Ballantines 17) or some single malts like Highland Park 12 which we recently sampled during EWBC III. While he can be open-minded I think he might occasionally need some coaxing.
With our 20$ paid, I jokingly told him “do you feel a cold coming along” to which he replied “fucking cough syrup”, much to the amusement of the SAQ employee. That evening turned out majestically though, not only was the progression well planned, the whiskys all had something different to offer.
To my surprise my brother fell hard for the last distillery I thought he ever would appreciate, the redemption malt was Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015. Is it because “cairdeas” is Gaelic for friendship or is it perhaps that this is just a damn fine scotch?
Nose: medicinal peat, lemony, sea spray, oyster shells, sweet anise, fisherman’s friends lozenge. A kind of bourbony sweetness permeates the nose, chalky , mineral, waxy/moldy lemons (in a good way), wet oak, kelp.
Palate: Rich and sweet at first and then thick and herbal peat, those little eucalyptus/menthol candies rolled in sugar. It’s got a good salinity, green olive brine and smoked herring make an appearance. The second wave rolls back and forth, on one side bitter hay/pithy, ashy and medicinal. On the other sweet vanilla, brioche and oak.
It’s got a resinous like feeling and a very thick mouth-feel, it has a long finish that coasts on it’s smoky/ashy side and a pleasant sharp and bitterness/sweetness.
This is a great example of why bourbon barrel matured Islays in the 10-15 year range at higher proof really shine (see Bowmore Tempest) and have such character. I don’t want to re-hash what differentiates how this Laphroaig is produced (I think that info is largely covered elsewhere). I cannot say if this result successfully recreates the old school Laphroaig profile (I am ready to accept samples of 50’s era Laphroaig…please) but it does provides quite a mature whisky experience and one that is different enough from the standard Laphroaig.
As for my brother he was really digging it, I felt like the proud parents in that old life cereal commercial with Mikey “he likes it!”