Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas Amontillado Edition 2014

Laphroaig_Cairdeas Amontillado 2014

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is a literary classic, but even die-hard sherry drinkers don’t knock back much of this expression of sherry, which lies between the pale, dry fino and the well-regarded oloroso — the latter of which finds its spent casks used heavily as whisky finishing barrels.

For its 2014 release of the Laphroaig Cairdeas limited-edition whisky, the Islay classic turns to amontillado sherry casks for finishing — the first time I’ve encountered such a spirit. The base spirit is 8 year old Laphroaig from bourbon casks that then finds its way into amontillado hogsheads for one additional year. A lovely shade of amber, here’s how it shakes out.

Laphroaig Amontillado starts with a classic oily and peaty Laphroaig nose, tempered with Christmas spice and cedar wood — a promising start. But on the palate, it’s surprisingly mild — more easygoing and, dare I say, simplistic than almost any other Laphroaig expression I’ve had. Primary components of the body include classic sweet-peat Laphroaig, tempered with ground coffee, menthol, and campfire smoke. Yes, the expected citrusy sherry notes are there, but they’re surprisingly understated, driven into the background. While all in all the whisky’s components work well together, they ultimately just lie a bit flat, unfortunately failing to add up to a powerfully compelling whole.

102.8 proof.

B / $75 / laphroaig.com  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

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6 Responses

  1. j-whiskey September 22, 2014 / 11:54 am

    You gave last years Cairdeas and A+ and this just a B? I felt this was a more balanced dram. I am not arguing the score as much as the spread between 2013 and 2014. I have both and enjoy both, but I don’t think this is a B product. I frequent the site often, and this is my first post, but i wanted you to elaborate a bit more on what you think made it flat…

  2. Christopher Null September 22, 2014 / 12:14 pm

    j-whiskey – This is the first Cairdeas that just hasn’t resonated with me. My guess is it’s either using Amontillado instead of oloroso or other more typical sherry casks to finish, or the relatively young Laphroaig being used here that just doesn’t mix as it should with Amontillado. To me, this just lies on the palate with none of the power I associate with great Laphroaig. The port finished Cairdeas from last year punches you in the through with intensity of flavor, while this one just sits on the tongue, crying out to release the fruit trapped within and buried under smoke. Not sure I can describe my experience much more fully than that; it’s possible this dram suffers more than it should due to comparison with the prior Cairdeas. Such is the danger of perspective, I suppose. Thanks for your comment!

  3. j-whiskey September 22, 2014 / 1:07 pm

    Yes, i think it might be the Amontillado… It just doesnt have the flavor bursting power that the Port wood had, but i think this is more Laphoaig then last years. I understand – your perspective will be different than mine, I think i will revisit and taste them back to back today.

  4. Liam September 22, 2014 / 5:59 pm

    Proof is wrong on your review. Should be 102.8. An excellent review as always. I too found it just falling a -bit- short.

  5. Christopher Null September 22, 2014 / 7:57 pm

    Liam – good catch! Proof corrected.

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