Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020

I’m always a year or more behind when it comes to Cairdeas releases. Not only are they not easy to get your hands on (as we’re starved for similar quality whiskies here in Canada), but I like to take my time with these bottles.

That’s a lie I have too much to write, I am just sick of writing that.

If you’re new, welcome to whisky! Be sure to buy some rubber pants. I won’t explain but you’ll eventually need them.

Also each year Laphroaig releases a whisky for the annual Islay festival Feis Ile and each year it’s different. It’s at a high abv. (they typically have the final two numbers of the abv. line up to the year it was released), it’s not single cask, and it uses a different mix each year.

Enter 2020… actually don’t. Really don’t. It’s not a good time. But do enter Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020, last year’s release when we were all inside for no reason you should check the history books about.

What you won’t find is that this was aged in ex-Bourbon, Ruby Port, and Red Wine casks before being sent to our waiting, thirsty baby-bird mouths that screech constantly for whisky.

So it’s peat mixed with port and red wine casks. That seems like a good time. But is it? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $100 CAD

Region: Islay

Bottled: 2020

Cask Types: Bourbon Casks, Ruby Port, & Red Wine Casks

Abv: 52.0%

Colour: 7.5YR 7/10

Nose: Caramel, raspberry, peat, brine, cinnamon

Simpler nose than I was originally expecting. You get a simpler peat note with a bit more spice and raspberry. Perhaps adding all of those casks hasn’t meshed well?

Taste: Cherry, black pepper, red grape, cocoa, brine, caramel

Nope, seems to have worked outside the nose! Strong fruity notes mix with peat and salt to make a smokey, hot balanced fruit dessert. Like the kind I can’t make because things always need more flavours when I bake.

I have a problem. But this whisky doesn’t.

Finish: Brine, chalk, marshmallow, dark chocolate, smoked ribs

Now we’re starting up. If the nose was an okay peated whisky, and the taste was what it should be when they blend peat with fruit element, then the finish is the payoff.

Meaty, cocoa rich, lovely creaminess, and earthy. Somehow even that chalk flavour works, and it shouldn’t because I’d rather not have to enter a classroom again.

Wait, do kids even use chalk anymore? I guess it depends on how much or little your school gets paid.

Conclusion: Dry, fruity, and smoke filled. You gotta get past how simple the nose is. If you’re a Laphroaig fan then you’ll enjoy it. Simply that. I’m a peathead. Of course I like peat.

Moving past the downsides to this dram, the taste and finish really nail it. Yes, there have been better Cairdeas releases that have more going on. But we’ve also had ones that didn’t really do it well enough. This is what I want: Strong strength, port cask, trying something new, and peat. Frankly I don’t even always need the peat there.

Peat and port/sherry/red wine work together. This did it again. Simple enough. Try it if you can, and here’s hoping the next one is even better.


Scotch review #1413, Islay review #381, Whisky Network review #2093

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