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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Laphroaig Càirdeas 2014 Amontillado Cask Finish

Winter arrived a month-and-a-half early this year, so the recent jumble of Ledaig, Lagavulin and Laphroaig reviews feel very appropriate. This week it's all whisky from Bessie Williamson's distillery. On Monday I reviewed 2019's limited edition Càirdeas, today it's the 2014 edition.

Yes, there have been some gaps. I've reviewed the 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 releases and referenced the 2016. I remember drinking the 2018 (Fino finish) but perhaps I consumed it without taking notes. Oh, the humanity!

Anyway, the 2014 edition keeps up the fortified-wine-cask-finish Càirdeas approach begun in 2013 and continued thereafter. Amontillado is usually not a sweet sherry, rather it tends to be dry and nutty. (And, oh geez, I'm beginning to fear the 2020 edition will be PXed.) Hopefully this Amontillado goes well with Laphroaig's spirit...

Distillery: Laphroaig
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Age: ???, though probably less than 10 years
Maturation: bourbon casks first, then a finish in Amontillado-seasoned hogsheads
Batch: 2014
Alcohol by Volume: 51.4%
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? Probably
(from a bottle split)

The nose smells of new sneakers, from the sole to fresh laces. There's also seaweed, hot tar and an old greasy engine. Meanwhile, there are all sorts of curious fruity things going on: melons, watermelon Jolly Ranchers and a hint of amaretto (not Amontillado). The palate has a curious dirty smokiness to it. Not only is it not Laphroaig-ish, it's not even Scottish. It reminds me of of Säntis or Aecht Schlenkerla. Like burning pine needles and wood chips, burnt vegetable oil. After 20-30 minutes it shifts towards familiar territory with nutty sherry, tart apples, fresh ginger and anise. It finishes with the piney smoke, brine, almonds and tart apples.

DILUTED TO ~48%abv, or < ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose holds plastic, apricots and a gentle smoke. Smaller notes of mint leaves, dried cherries and cinnamon trail behind. The palate stays burly. The peat heads closer to southern Islay, being herbal, bitter and briny, but there's also a decent sweetness in the background. The finish keeps its good length, and mostly matches the palate, adding a little more ginger.

This Càirdeas is more of a thinker, a forehead wrinkler, than the 2019 edition. At first the palate presents something different, a little difficult but fascinating, then it changes course and becomes a reliable Laphroaig. The nose is more consistent, but also less exciting. There are no gloopy or grapey sherry notes, for which we have the Amontillado to thank. Overall it's a good alternative spin on Laphroaig, but I don't think I missed much at the time of its release.

Availability -
Secondary market

Pricing - ???
Rating - 86

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