Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014, Amontillado

Cairdeas 2014
Here is Laphroaig’s Cairdeas release for 2014. Last year’s release was double matured in bourbon and port casks, and this year’s release is double matured in bourbon and amontillado sherry casks. Laphroaig did not send this whisky to space, and nor is it being sold for $150 or more in most American markets. As a result, perhaps, there’s no disproportionate fuss being made about it. I’m not sure how old this is or what relationship it has to their Quarter Cask or regular 10 yo releases but given the rarity of official sherry matured Laphroaig and the high premiums the independents have begun to charge for their releases of sherried Laphroaig, there was no way in hell I was going to think twice about paying just about $60 for this bottle.

Now, let’s see what it’s like.

Laphroaig Cairdeas, 2014 Release (51.4%; from my own bottle)

Nose: This is no outsize sherry bomb. The familiar Laphroaig iodine and cereals up top with orange peel and raisins below. Gets more savoury (ham) and briny as it sits and there’s a bit of graphite (pencil lead) too. The sweeter notes expand with time, with some toffee and vanilla showing up, and there’s a bit of pipe tobacco as well. With a lot more time the sherry notes (the orange peel and raisins) intensify but the whole stays wonderfully balanced. Water seems to pull out the vanilla, and some cream with it while muting most of the rest.

Palate: Very salty entrance with inky, slightly vegetal (bell peppery) smoke behind, turning ashy as I swallow. None of the sweeter notes on the first sip and none of the citrus. On the second sip there’s the pencil lead and a bit of a hint of the citrus. On the third sip the citrus is no longer being bashful and now it’s somewhere between orange peel and preserved Meyer lemon. Highly drinkable at full strength but can still hurt you, say, in the completely hypothetical scenario (of course) in which you were to slide so low in your chair while reading as to be almost horizontal while taking a large sip. Sweeter with water and more vanilla on the palate now too, along with a little more lemon.

Finish: Medium-long. The ashy smoke picks up some charred meat as it goes. The salt lingers too and with more time the citrus shows up too. Water pushes the salt back and makes the smoke more phenolic.

Comments: This is good, honest Laphroaig, chock full of the distillery character, and it is so good to see it being sold for a good, honest price. The nose is the best part but the palate is no letdown either. The finish is the one place where the likely youth reveals itself as it can’t quite keep the party going. And, in general, while it’s pleasurable it’s not particularly complex. I preferred the nose without water and the palate and finish with. By the way, water brings it closer to the Quarter Cask than to the 10 which it seemed an obvious sibling of in the early going. I’ll be very interested to see how this bottle changes with time.

Rating: 88 points.


19 thoughts on “Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014, Amontillado

      • Will look for the private message. Its hard, if not impossible, to which is better but lets say, on any given day if you only could have one or the other and nothing else would you go for one over the other every time?


        • Well, I guess it would depend on whether I wanted a heavily peated malt with sherry influence or port influence. As I generally prefer the former, I’d probably reach for this one more often; however, if I were in the mood for a peated malt with port influence I’d probably pick the 2013 Cairdeas over its competition from other distilleries. This is an abstract matter, of course, as I don’t have any of the 2013 left.


    • You should get both. I find the 2013 unique, and as such it’s a ‘must have’. The 2014 (based on a limited tasting) is very good, but not a large departure from, say the Quarter Cask and the recent 10yo CS.


      • Thanks Florin! I have had the 2013 and like it quite a bit and agree with you on that it is very unique AND well made. I actually was hoping that the 2014 was “different” than the distillery’s regular lineup.


        • Well, the Port Wood is more different in that it’s the only official Laphroaig that’s port matured at all. With sherry there’s all the triple matured Triple Wood release (I think that’s just the Quarter Cask matured a little longer in oloroso sherry casks) and the PX release (which is the Quarter Cask matured further in PX casks). In fact, I can’t even recall any indie Laphroaigs from port casks. So if something more “unique” is what you are looking for then the 2013 fits that description more than the 2014. But I don’t know if that’s such a big consideration if you’re not a big fan of Laphroaig to begin with.


  1. I’m wildly disappointed by the 2014 Cairdeas. It tastes like a young, mediocre Bowmore indie to me, with none of the wonderfully distinctive Laphroaig character. I found the dominant notes were a light, generic sweetness (almost like cheap supermarket honey, not fruit), vegetal peat and astringent liquid smoke. What was most striking was its thin, watery consistency–despite the high proof. None of the elements gelled. I gave it air, time and a few drops of water, but nothing helped.

    And believe me, I adore Laphroaig. The 10 yr CS has been my house malt since the original red stripe bottle, I hoard the cask strength indies and I stocked up on the 2013 and 2012 Cairdeas (and thought the 2011 was pretty solid too). But I think this latest edition is a total mess. Granted, the more recent batches of 10 yr CS, QC and 18 have been slipping, but I think this one completely fell off the cliff.

    C+/78 pts (and that’s probably generous). Surprised we’re so far apart on this one.


  2. Tonight I placed 1oz Laph 10 vs 1oz 2014 Cairdeas. Both (2oz) samples are from MAO, and 1oz because I wish to do this twice.
    The level of smoke seems the same. The 10 is lighter and more watery (as expected) more medicinal but also more bitter on the finish. The Cairdeas is slightly less medicinal and sweeter. The sweetness lasts through the finish along with some herbal/wood (strong anise) and caramelly notes. The only thing I could think of was “smokey root beer”. I think it’s a real treat. A solid B and a whisky of which I may need to get more. It’s as if BarrelChar is judging a different whisky, and isn’t that possible given the large batch size (28,000?)?


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