Laphroaig – Cairdeas 2014 – Amontillado Cask – Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 51.4% (102.8 Proof) $79.99 (oops $60 Elsewhere)
Color/Appearance: Shimmering golden. Ample warmth as well with long streaky legs. No idea if they add colorant to this or not but it would be nice if they didn’t. It may sound redundant but I can only hope that the repetition will someday pay off and distillers everywhere will drop that outdated idea. I have read that this is confirmed to be eight years old. Fresh young peated single malt at cask-strength, yumm. I don’t know much about Amontillado sherry finishes but the only way to find out is to do some exploring. Lets see what it does here.
Nose: Damp wood, mushrooms, ozone, bandages, loose dirt, a burned log and moldy lemons. While, to many, that may not sound like a great start, to me that is awesome. Bring it. I love these Islay malts. Loads of unusual and intoxicating scents like these are one of the main reasons. You really owe it to yourself to find out why that list of scents can be so amazing. After that onslaught of peat come more easily explained greatness with orange blossoms, tangerines, plumeria flowers, gooseberries and oh so many wonderful delights. I could nose this all night. Heaven and earth together in one exotic elixir. Ahh.
Palate: Semi sweet entry with flowers and honey quickly running into a truckload of asphalt and smoke. Then under the surface you feel the Amontillado casks’ subtle hints of exotic fruit that is just so lovely. Exploring and trying to pin down this influence is one of the most enjoyable parts of this whisky. This light sherry interestingly adds much more dryness and spiciness than you would expect. Clove, cinnamon, cardamon and oak are on display. I really like how that adds complexity while not detracting from the show-stopping blast of cask-strength Islay peat. This isn’t too unctuous and rich as some Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez sherry influenced whisky can be. Nice balance and cohesion for such a powerful whisky.
Finish: Long and stunning with tangerines and spicy oak mingling into infinity. Dry and yet also lush. Not a thing out of place as it fades away.
Overall: The Amontillado cask adds a subtle effect that is rather enticing. A soft semi-dryness and depth add to the wonderful barrage of peat that Laphroaig is so famous for. I like this cask finish for its ability to bring something new to the table, while not muddling the Laphroaig that we know and love. Tangy and delicious with the full power of cask-strength really amping up the flavors nicely. The young peat is powerfully represented but it does have some edges where it could be a little more integrated. I would love to see this stuff at ten years old or more but I understand why it is not bottled that way. This is a special release for the Feis Ile 2014 festival and while most of the other distilleries release amazing whiskies for the festival hordes, they are all pretty much unattainable for the rest of us. I have to commend Laphroaig for having a release that is more widely available and also reasonably priced. Grab a taste of Islay and a unique and interesting finished whisky as well. Nicely done.