About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


Saturday the 11th January 2014 saw 32 people enjoying 6x2cls of different Laphroaigs - specifically, the 6 Càirdeas bottlings released so far for the Feis Ile from 2008-2013...
32 people also gave the opportunity to take home some dregs for later tasting and re-evaluation. Oh, we also had an extra, but more on that later... ;-)

The venue was The Irish House in my home town of Aalborg, an old merchant's house from 1616 with a nice cosy basement perfect for tastings this size. The same place as the local whisky club, in which I'm deeply involved, does most tastings as well. This day, though, it's bottles from my private collection we'll be tasting.

The Càirdeas tasting lineup, left to right 2008-2013 Editions - a fantastic afternoon out, January 11th 2014 © The Malt Desk
I decided to do the tasting in 2 flights... and chronologically too of course, first 2008 - 2010 and a break and then on to 2011 - 2013.

Let's break them down in detail:

  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2008, 55%
  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2009 12yo, 57,5%
  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2010, 57,3 Master Edition
  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2011, 50,5% Ileach Edition
  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2012, 51,2% Origin
  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2013, 51,3% Port Wood Edition
Right, now that we got the bottlings sorted, let's have a look at a few personal observations of mine and also how they rated on the day through the eyes of the rest of the participants. More detailed personal tasting notes will feature on the blog at a later time.

  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2008, 55%
This one is really close to the 10yo Cask Strength, IMO - great stuff, especially if left for a while to breathe. Somehow I feel the 2 older casks tipped into this vatting provides a significant part of the backbone of this dram.

  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2009 12yo, 57,5%
A much more mellow and sweet experience, this one. Lots of vanilla and burning twigs as opposed to the traditional heavier peat style. Certainly a clear influence from more time in the cask as well as influence from the 1st fill ex-bourbon casks used in this vatting.

  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2010, 57,3 Master Edition
This one takes us, IMO, more back towards the traditional expression of Laphroaig. It gives carries a lot of vanilla and peat sweetness and lemon, but still closer in style to the 2009 expression than the 2008.

The verdict of flight no. 1?

Many really liked the 2009 12yo and asking around 2/3's of those asked favoured that expression, incl. myself. - the rest was split between the 2008 and 2010. Retasted a few days later, the my own verdict changed to have the 2008 come out on top!

Comparing the first 3 of the Càirdeas expressions, January 11th 2014 © The Malt Desk

  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2011, 50,5% Ileach Edition
A fresh and vibrant expression, this one. Lots of cigar ash on the nose along with delicate vanilla and an almost floral peat. This was probably the expression that on the day got least likes, but this has also opened up quite a bit. Supposedly all 1st fill ex-bourbon casks from Makers Mark distillery went into this vatting.

  •  Càirdeas Feis Ile 2012, 51,2% Origin
An expression that carries a destinct mark of the quarter cask, IMO, with noticeably more powerful wood infused notes. Of course it also gives you the sweet peat and some seashore notes, but although its good, it'll never be my favourite of the lot.

  • Càirdeas Feis Ile 2013, 51,3% Port Wood Edition
Personal impression runs with another very vibrant expression, not at all dulled by the port maturation. Loads of farmyard notes of both the bio dynamic and organic kind (dung, barley and hay). The wine showing it self as a sweet layer on top of the peat, but in no way overpowering. This expression has on online fora really divided people into lovers and haters. Personally I'm in the first group.

The verdict of flight no. 2?

This was about a split hair descision between the 2012 Origin and the 2013 Port Wood Edition. At the time, I really liked the 2013 Port Wood, but later, after revisiting the 2011, I've come to really like its ashy side alot. So for me its now a split between the 2011 and 2013.

Laphroaig Spirit Stills, May 5th 2011 © The Malt Desk

All in all a very nice experience to taste all -at the moment- released versions of the Feis Ile Laphroaig Càirdeas. I'm already wondering what 2014 has in store for us...

Looking at this range it goes fits the current trend of No Age Statement whiskies, except for the 2009 release, but these pack the extra punch for 2 reasons:

1. They're peated
2. (and most important) - they're cask strength!

Imagine other high profile distilleries releasing their NAS whiskies at cask strength?
Will we be bashing them as hard if they did?

So a big pad on the back to Laphroaig for making these bottlings available at cask strength.

Rounding the day off I put on an extra - a more mature Laphroaig at 21yo...

Laphroaig 1987 (xx.11.1987/xx.01.2009) 21yo 50%, refill cask#4855, Old Malt Cask © The Malt Desk

A more laid back version from Laphroaig, age showing itself clearly by producing a very mellow dram but still carries a more than moderate peating level and a very dark style of peat it is too, more burnt and sooty. An Islay giant this one... Again -as with the others- it went down very well with the audience, this was not rated on the day by the audience.

After about 2½ hours of tasting and enjoy 7 Laphroaigs, people went on their merry ways with a smile on their faces and leaving me with dregs for a private session...

Dregs for a small private session later on, January 11th 2014 © The Malt Desk

This concludes the short report from the tasting. Hope you enjoyed the it.

Thanks for reading...


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