Cairdeas Port Wood

Laphroaig: Cairdeas: Port Wood (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 9 years: 51.3% ABV)

Visual: The colour of rose wine.

Viscosity: Medium sized thick streaks.

Nose: Rose wine. Peat. Light medicinal touch. Salt. Leather and beef slices.

Body: Rose wine and plums. Salt. Medicinal. Alcohol burn neat. Beef slices. Red grapes and spices. Raisins. Custard sweetness and toffee.

Finish: Light alcohol. Beef. Salt. Spiced rum. Raisins. Light charring. Fruitcake.

Conclusion: In words I never expected to associate with a Laphroaig whisky Fruity must have been pretty high on the list. They are a lot of things, big. Medicinal, peaty and booming. Now…fruity? Here, both in colour and taste you seem to get a rose wine style characteristic resulting in a flavour half way between rose wine and medicinal. It’s a hell of a contrast, huge and full.

You don’t get much of a hint in the aroma, there is some wine touches, but mainly plays with the standard Laphroaig fair. The base of the whisky still is that full medicinal and salty Laphroaig, but the extra finish has brought lovely raisins, rose wine, and plums. They are extra notes rather than the main base, but this fruitiness gives a whole new range to explore. I love the dark fruit weight and fruitcake richness but they in no way hurt the Islay character.

The mix results in a wine whisky of extreme range, you actually get lighter notes that somehow still manage to survive despite the weighty base and these notes give the rose wine characteristics. The full port wood influence is seen the more weighty fruitcake notes and it works well with the sheer heavy nature of Islay whiskies.

This, as you can probably guess form the above, is very unusual, and very nice. Many may find it contrary to their expectations as I have not run into another Laphroaig with this styling, but that is what makes it so interesting. If it had sacrificed some of the main Laphroaig elements to achieve it I would have been less kind, but there is no danger of that here.

Very well balanced, if by balanced you mean sheer assault with complexity. If you get the chance try this, it is a thing to behold.

Background: This may be a bit of a shorter tasting note that usual as I got to sample this at the Bristol Whisky show 2013. I was not planning to do any tastings at the show, rather enjoy some time with friends and good whisky, but the chance to tasting note this was too good to pass up. While most whisky at the show was included in the ticket price, this required picking up an extra token to purchase. As a Laphroaig fan I considered it worth it. Cairdas apparently means friendship and this bottling is made for a festival each year, and sold via their website to “Friends of Laphroaig” or so some googling says, I could not say for sure. Also the age I grabbed from the web, saying 8 years in bourbon and 14 months in port finish, again take with the grain of salt that using google as a research tool should require.