Every year, Laphroaig releases a different expression under their Cairdeas (gaelic for friendship) umbrella. The 2017 edition is a cask strength version of Laphroaig Quarter Cask. The 57.2% abv whisky started with a 5-year plus maturation in first-fill bourbon barrels, followed by a six month secondary maturation in quarter casks. The resulting whisky features no added color and is not chill filtered.
The nose is full of that signature Laphroaig funky Islay peat, as well as vanilla and tropical fruit. It’s a touch more closed off at cask strength, but opens up with a splash of water, which brings about more of the fruity notes. On the palate, it’s slighlty less sweet than the standard Quarter Cask, but packed with flavor. Toffee, brine, and tropical fruits, especially mangos, define the whisky as much as the whallop of ashy smoke in the background. Some young oak and herbal notes appear on the backend. The finish is long and complex, featuring notes of vanilla cream, spice and smoke.
At a reasonable price increase compared to the standard Quarter Cask, Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 ($80) is firing on all cylinders. It’s younish for sure, but that allows for a larger peaty punch compared to older Laphroaig expressions. Only 177 casks were emptied for this release, so those who want a bottle should act fast. Recommended! 8.5/10
Thanks to Beam Suntory for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.