If you are new to the mighty Islay Whiskies, this is a great place to start, but experienced peat-lovers will savor it too.
Laphroaig distillery was founded in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston and is located in Port Ellen, Isle of Islay. Although Laphroaig isn't allowed to put the prefix ‘Royal’ in its name (yet), rumour has it his royal princeness Charles of Wales is a fan of the ‘L’ Whisky. The 15-year-old is reportedly the prince's favourite Scotch. For a long while there’s been frenzy for Laphroaig’s Scotch, especially those less-available expressions.
It is worth saying again that the entire line of Laphroaig single-malt Whiskies are definitively Islay Scotches, and they are powerful magic indeed. But each year the salty-geniuses at Laphroaig issue a special edition, always called Cairdeas (meaning “friendship” in Gaelic) and each year’s issue is eagerly anticipated by fans of this iconic dram. So, what makes this year’s Cairdeas special?
It is—by Laphroaig standards—lightly peated. Make no mistake, you will not have to search for the smoke. But this one is a bit milder and is finished in Amontillado Sherry casks. Amontillado is a sweeter variety of Sherry, and that sweet character is imparted into the Whiskey. So what we end up with is a lighter, sweeter Laphroaig with a bit less smoke, but one that maintains their quality and heritage. The Wall Street Journal called it the “gateway Laphroaig”, and it is hard to disagree with them. So if you are new to the mighty Islay (pronounced “eye-la”) Whiskies, this is a great place to start. But the spirit is still profound, so experienced peat-lovers will savor it too.