Two years ago, the most nerdy of you will remember, the Cairdeas version of Laphroaig was a colossal failure: the finish in Port casks, in fact, turned an excellent distillate to a ridicolous tacky, Spritz-style color… Today we taste the Cairdeas version for the Feis Ile of the following year, 2014: it’s a finish in Sherry Amontillado casks, and the distillery manager John Campbell explains everything in this video: it’s our 20th Laphroaig, we’d like it to be good. The color is decent, an average straw-yellow.
N: first of all, compared to the Quarter Cask, it seems a bit more ‘mature’, slightly smoother, as well as aged in more sober barrels. There is less ‘sweetness’, so to speak, and less candied citrus fruit. A pungent lemon and a sense of unripe fruit is the main sensation; notes of Sprite! Then vanilla, almond paste and a very medicinal side (lots of gauze here). The peat smells a little less ‘chemical’, but it seems definetely ashy, from extinguished embers. Surely this whisky is less boorish than the QC, while remaining similar and staying in the category of “young a bit artificial Laphroaigs”. But hey, such is life, isn’t it?
P: very particular, more than the nose would suggest. The mix between first fill bourbon casks and Amontillado creates a crowd pleasing creaminess, but softened by the influence of this type of sherry, rather dry. In order we find a reception of powerful lemon, very sharp and intense; also lime, sour. Then intervene together the intense salty peat and the note of Amontillado wine. Walnuts, salted caramel, malt cookies and honey, all in a context of great pleasure.
F: more citrus fruits, salted caramel and extinguished embers.
Definitely promoted; perhaps it will not be a triumph of complexity, but – tasted next to the Quarter Cask – it reveals all its merits. A sober whisky, if you can mention sobriety in a whisky review. The Amontillado, while not hiding, impacts on the Laphroaig distillate without ruining its peculiarities, and 87/100 will be the right rating. Right based on what? Based on our taste, of course.
Recommended soundtrack: The Puppini Sisters – It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing)