To celebrate friendship and togetherness within its global community, peaty giant Laphroaig releases a new Cairdeas bottling every year. The limited edition whiskies always go up for purchase on “Laphroaig Day”, i.e. the day of the annual Feis Ile festival that is dedicated to the Beam Suntory-owned distillery on the South coast of Islay. Whereas many of the Cairdeas releases of the last years had special finishes, this year’s offering goes back to basics: The high-strength Islay malt is exclusively vatted from spirit matured in 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels from Maker’s Mark – all of which came to maturity in Laphroaig’s time-honored, close-to-the-shore Warehouse No. 1. Personally, I love this concept: After all, it promises to bring forth a ‘Phroaig as classic, pure, and elemental as it gets! And Cairdeas 2022 does not just talk the talk; it also walks the walk! The whisky is rich, sophisticated, and ever-changing in the glass. As it unfolds over time, it provides all of the smells and tastes I love about Laphroaig: sea spray, driftwood, minerals, iodine, and bonfire smoke as well as sweet treats and waxy fruits. Somewhat surprising maybe, Cairdeas 2022 is less of a raging peat storm, and more of a scintillating Islay gem that keeps producing new aromas the longer it bellows and breathes. If I had to guess, I would say that the bulk of the whisky in the recipe was quite well-matured; but I do not have any insider information to back up that claim. In the end, however, this is also nothing I ransack my brains over. ‘Cause if a whisky is as masterfully composed and beautifully orchestrated as Laphroaig Cairdeas 2022, who cares if it is 3 or 30 years old or anything in between?
Eye: Sandy-yellow with thick, oily legs running down the glass’s wall at good pace.
Nose: Each sniff is full of rich, deep, and varied aromas. There’s bonfires and band-aids. There’s sea spray and harbor planks. There’s olive oil and mint leafs. There’s grain and moss. There’s stone and coal. And underneath it all, there’s a subtle sweetness. Right after I opened the bottle, I found the smoke to be surprisingly far in the background – but now that it’s been uncorked for a couple of days, I find Laphroaig’s Cairdeas 2022 to be noticeably peatier and puffier than I initially thought.
Palate: First, mushy garden fruits appear at the tip of the tongue: apples, quinces, gooseberries. Then a sweet, iodine-laden smoke cloud appears. As it unfolds, its phenols mingle with spearmint gum, lime juice, birch wood, and green banana. Further smacks include semolina pudding, clotted cream, and toasted barley. And, of course, the obligatory maritime notes. The interplay of the many offered flavors is beautifully arranged and the raised ABV suits the spirit mighty fine.
Finish: During the worth-to-remember finish, the whisky turns ashen grey with smoke. Almost at the same time, it also gets waxier (apple peel), fruitier (lemon jelly), greener (paprika crunch), and sweeter (sugar cubes). The complex farewell notes form a perfect whole and usher out an superb Islay malt in a truly magnificent way!
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Alc. volume: 52.2 per cent
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
Price range: ~90.00 Euro
More info: https://www.laphroaig.com/en/ (Distillery)
*** I bought the bottle as a regular customer. ***