Laphroaig 2013 Cairdeas Release – Port Wood Edition (51.3% ABV / 102.6 proof, $74.99 – Special Release) – like Ardbeg does with their Ardbeg Committee releases, Laphroaig does an annual release to its most faithful fans. Laphroaig does this under the moniker Cairdeas which is the Gaelic word for friendship. Like travel retail, the Cairdeas releases are another space in which Laphroaig can experiment and try out new things. Also, like with their Travel Retail releases, this year’s Cairdeas reflects Laphroaig’s shift in focus to wood. Rosy amber in color, there’s absolutely no mistaking that this whisky has spent time in a port cask. Unlike Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask and QA cask, Laphroaig’s signature smoky peat and iodine are clearly here.
The nose is simply explosive with strong peat smoke, smoked cedar, and salt. The smoky quality in the nose reminds us more of a wood-fired BBQ than Laphroaig’s classic campfire nose. In the heart of the nose is lush dark fruit including blackberry and grape jam. The integration of aromas is superb, and the integration between Laphroaig’s smoky, savory notes and the sweet jammy fruit notes from the nose are right there on the entry. There’s a wonderful dance between the fruit and smoke in the midpalate where each takes a turn in the lead. In the midpalate the whisky is smoky, then fruity, then smoky again. This transition is delightful and downright exciting. The level of complexity here is also superb. The finish is long with both the fruit and smoke notes lingering on the palate for a long time.
Laphroaig 2013 Cairdeas Release – Port Wood Edition feels like a true authentic expression of Laphroaig. All the legendary elements from Laphroaig are here along with some expertly integrated fruit notes that both complement and enhance the Laphroaig whisky experience. Although the Port Wood Edition is more expensive and harder to find than the travel retail exclusives, it’s worth every penny and worth the pain of trying to find it.