Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 16.23.55Distillery: Laphroaig
~9 Years Old
Cask: 1st-fill Bourbon, finished in Amontillado Hogsheads 
More Info:

You’ve probably seen this one around – that bright yellow tin is hard not to notice!

Released for Feis Ile 2014, this bottling is released with no age statement but widely believed to have spent eight years in first fill Bourbon and a further one year in Amontillado sherry casks.

Nose: Wood-smoked cashew nuts, grapefruit juice, roast chicken crisps, marker pens, flint and coal dust.

Palate: Sweet and mouthcoating, then a whoosh of astringent coal tar soap leaving tangy sweet oranges, lemon throat sweets, warm honey and lingering peat.

Finish: Warm and comforting with a creamy, smoky ash.

This is a cracking dram, hands down. All that midwinter fireplace character you expect, but the Amontillado brings some interesting sweet notes instead of the usual vanilla flavour you get with the ten year old. No water needed either – it’s perfect as it is.

You can still get this for reasonable prices, and with an out-turn of 28,000 bottles it’s not too hard to find. Some online stores are charging over £100, but I picked up a bottle at auction for about £60 so it’s worth shopping around.

Ardbeg Perpetuum Distillery Release

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 20.08.08Distillery: Ardbeg
Bottled: 2015
Age: NAS
ABV: 49.2%
Bottles: 12,000
Cask: Ex-bourbon and ex-sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Another year, another Ardbeg Day release!

Only this time it’s a special year for the distillery at the end of the Kildalton road – they’re celebrating their bicentenary. So just to confuse everybody, they released not one special bottling but two! I guess that’s one each for both centuries?

This one is the distillery-only version released for the Feis Ile. Oddly, they changed their mind and decided to put it on sale on their website, causing havoc as their servers went down under the heavy traffic.

They also did the anniversary edition, bottled at a slightly lower 47.4% ABV and to the tune of 72,000 bottles.

Both releases promise elements of classic Ardbegs throughout the ages, with old and young spirit and a nod to the future as well as the past.

But beyond all the marketing spiel, what’s it actually like…?

Nose: Big flakes of sea salt on pretzels with air-dried ham. Dusty sherry notes of ripe plums, backed by briny iodine. Thick, sticky molasses with Jamaican ginger cake and malt loaf. Chewed rubber-tipped pencils, with fireplace hints of dry wood ash and old coal dust.

Palate: Sweet iced coffee with lots of salt and pepper. Creamy sherry trifle. Glacé cherry, bananas, juicy sultanas with rich malt syrup. More briny iodine notes swirled into chocolate sauce.

Finish: Super long and dry with oily espresso foam, salty ashes and sticky liquorice. Creamy, buttery oak.

Absolutely delicious. It’s desserty but not over the top – a really excellent balance of salt, sweet and bitter. It definitely tastes old and dusty with classic elements of more mature Ardbegs, and vintages from days gone by. I love the sherry influence – not as knockout as Uigeadail, more restrained and subtle.

Top notch, this. Thanks so much to Ben Cops for the sample.

The distillery edition’s long sold out on the Ardbeg site, but you can still find it on other retail sites and in auctions. Just don’t pay £400 for it like some people have!