Laphroaig Cairdeas Port Wood Edition

Laphroaig Cairdeas Port wood edition (51.3%, OB, Friends Of Laphroaig, 2013)

  • Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: Laphroaig Distillery
  • Bottling: Friends of Laphroaig
  • ABV: 51.3%
  • Cost: £47


What They say

Each year our Master Distiller, John Campbell, handcrafts a limited edition malt to celebrate friendship (“Cairdeas” in Gaelic). The 2013 expression has enjoyed a double maturation in bourbon and port wood casks to create an exceptional balance of our signature peat flavour with tangy citrus fruits and a floral finish. Like any friendship, each blend of Laphroaig Cairdeas is completely unique – something to be savoured with friends old and new. Laphroaig Cairdeas – friendship distilled.

This is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated email by our ‘Friends’ from me for the whole year because it gives me great pleasure to announce that this year’s special ‘Friends’ bottling – Cairdeas – is now on sale in our online shop. Of course every year Cairdeas is different, but this year I believe it is truly special and very unique indeed.

I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that we do sometimes like to keep a few secrets to ourselves! Well, I managed to get a style of barrel that we’ve never used before and one that I’d been hoping to for a long time: port barrels! I’ve always felt that the marriage of Laphroaig with these barrels would produce something very special and frankly I was not disappointed – the result is simply delicious!

For the technically-minded among you: it’s been bottled at 51.3% ABV, is non-chill filtered and is an all natural colour. But to be professional, here are my official tasting notes:

  • Nose: Stewed Rhubarb, Huge peat moving into vanilla ice cream and milk chocolate. Gentle cloves, minty and fresh… Cairdeas Port wood then becomes floral like summer roses, orange marmalade and finishes with a long, dry charcoal finish.
  • Palate: A lovely mouth feel and a nice balance, Cairdeas port wood has an initial honey sweetness but becomes dry quickly then creamy and floral, it shows a heavy saltiness and a great liquorice root flavour that really lasts, it then develops into a long, heavy charcoal finish mixing with orange rind flavours that really linger on the palate.


What I say

Holy moley this is something else! I have long been a fan of Laphroaig’s extreme peat sensation whisky and the more I drink the more I am beginning to think there must be nicotine in these bottles! Usually the peat in these hurt in a nice kind of way. Somehow they have managed to harness this with the port wood finish such that you get a massive hit of fruits going on at the same time as the peat explosion. The flavours fight and kick and scream with each other before laying waste to your tastebuds. The effect is amazing – this bottle should come with a warning on the label. With a little water in it you could sit down and write a book about just how many flavours are going on inside this whisky. However I have attempted to distil my thoughts down into the following:

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Rose pink.
  • Nose: Parma violets, creosote and dry roasted peanuts.
  • Taste: Salt and sweet peanut brittle, raspberry jam and smooth sweet smoked (BBQ) marshmallows.
  • Finish: Long lasting drying smoke then juicy fruits flavours.


I have to admit being anniversarily endowed such that my Birthday comes around about the same time Cairdeas is released each year. The Cairdeas expressions I have tried so far have always been something a little special in a bottle. Though they change every year I expect I will continue to keep buying these each year. On the face of this one I would strongly recommend a port finish Laphroaig could easily make its way into their standard range even at a tamer non cask strength, however I wouldn’t want to take anything away from the shine of this bottle. This is my current go to bottle when I either want a kick in the tastebuds or have several hours to sit and mull purely over a single dram.

Score 90/100

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Categories: Islay, Laphroaig

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4 replies »

  1. This was nice, and the hype regarding the Laphroaig-Port marriage is understandable; however, for me it is too hot, and I believe that it would have benefited from another year or two in a first fill or refill burboun cask. I find it somehow “unfinished” and I would reverse the scores you gace to the Origin and the Port Wood. With the outrageous prices it commends at auction I may sell the two bottles I have left and buy something more for my pallate, or open one to drink every now and then, but mostly to exchange samples…


    • Hi Yori,
      Thanks for your comments – I agree it is a tough call between the 2012 and 2013 Cairdeas expressions. I think for me the flavour profile of the port finish tips the balance initially. Over time I think I’ll savour the Origins more. I noticed a recent announcement from Laphroaig suggesting a Port-finish expression will be joining their stable (at least Europe-wide) so it will be interesting to compare those to this original. I guess being the first of its kind the hype was inevitable (similar to the Kilchoman Port Cask release I also got a sneak preview of back in April). With the release of a standard port-finish Laphroaig expression I wonder if auction prices for this may drop to more sensible levels soon?
      Cheers, Barry


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