Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask Review



Update 2016/6/15: Looking at the comment section for the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016, it seems some people were not selected in the ballot despite there being a release of bottles after the ballot. Not sure what happened here, but it may be that some people who entered the ballot decided not to buy, and instead of selecting more people from the ballot, Laphroaig decided just to release them on the site. It’s interesting to see that some people suggested that Laphroaig do half bottles instead so that there would be twice as many bottles, however, when they released the 21 year old, a lot of people complained about the 35cl bottles.

Update 2016/6/14: Well that didn’t last long. It appears the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 is now sold out on the Laphroaig online shop.

Update 2016/6/13: The Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Ballot has ended and Laphroaig have now released the remaining bottles on the site for FoL members. If you forgot to sign up for the ballot, have no fear because you can now go to the site and pick up a bottle with your FoL login.

Update 2016/6/9:  Like last year Laphroaig has chosen to run a ballot for those Friends of Laphroaig interested in buying the Cairdeas 2016. An email was sent out to FoL members on June 6th (Monday) with a link to ballot registration which expired on June 9th (Thursday) at mid-day. They stated in the email that the results of the ballot would be revealed by June 10th. It seems that at least a couple people I know have received emails stating that they had been selected in the ballot. In that email it states that they have until midnight June 12th (Sunday) to make the purchase. If this is like previous ballots then any unsold bottles after June 12th will be allotted to more ballot registered FoL members.


Who wants to try a Laphroaig aged in Madeira casks? Meeee!!

To explain a bit about why I was so excited to hear about this release, I will need to expand upon the significance of Madeira. Madeira is a fortified wine produced on the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal. I find it to have a similar character to port but with a more zesty attitude. Its tradition harkens from the Age of Exploration in the 15th century when the island of Madeira was an important pit stop for trade ships. The wine producers on Madeira discovered that the casks of wine that returned from the long voyages had a very different character that they actually prefered. So they tried to recreate the ship aging process by aging their wine in special rooms that would get extra hot from exposure to the sun. What all this translates to is that the production of madeira is quite limited when compared to port or sherry, hence the lack of Maderia aged whiskies. Also to my knowledge, Laphroaig have never released a Madeira aged whisky before. So this is a first!

Naturally it was quite exciting to find out that this year’s Cairdeas was aged in madeira casks. Although I was slightly disappointed that it was not a full maturation like the Kilchoman Madeira Cask release. I find that there is a much greater variance of flavour for whiskies that are finished as compared to full maturations, since so much depends on how long the finish was. However, while full maturations in exotic casks can be exciting on the surface, a well finished whisky can offer a more balanced and complex profile.

Oh and for those not familiar with the Cairdeas range, they are a line of expressions that are released every year by Laphroaig as a treat to the Friends of Laphroaig (FoL). They are usually released during Feis Ile and are then available via their online shop to FoL members. Recently they have also been available in the USA at whisky retailers. We tried the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask at the distillery during Feis Ile 2016.


Distillery: Laphroaig Distillery

Age: NAS

Cask: First in ex-bourbon barrels then married and finished in hogshead casks seasoned with Madeira.

ABV: 51.6%

Price: £69.30 from Laphroaig Distillery





A hot fiery peat like red hot chili pepper candies. It’s got that licorice heat and spiciness. Savoury and woody like slow smoked pulled pork with tangy sweet bbq sauce. Fresh cut grass and cole slaw with peanuts.


Intense intertwined flavours of big herbal peat and super ripe strawberries or haw fruit or a mix of tropical fruits like rambutan and mangosteen. It melds into a cooling menthol spice with zesty oak and red wine tartness then continues into sweet warm caramel and licorice with hints of dark chocolate.


Big and peaty like exhaling smoke after a big puff from a pipe. Fresh oak and bright tannins and herbal tea. Ginseng chews.




A nice big bold peaty tasty dram that is almost the antithesis of last year’s Cairdeas. This is not about refinement and delicacies. This is about in your face flavours and big bright bold personalities. While the madeira influence is not so heavy, the overall balance of flavours works and makes this whisky its own thing. The madeira is definitely there but don’t expect something like the Kilchoman Madeira  where the madeira saturates every aspect. This dram gives you some nice spiciness with richer sweet red wine notes.  It’s definitely a lot of fun and walks to its own beat. If you are a Laphroaig fan, this is a must try!




Sweet and savory. Korean BBQ chicken. Followed by a wall of peat smoke and chimney fires.


The sweet moves into a punch of peat to the tonsils. A kiss with a fist. Firewood, flame and earth.


Lingering peat comes back round leaving a sweet kiss in the finish.




Very interesting rollercoaster of a dram.the colour is a light rose and the sweet smell on the nose gives the illusion of polite delicacy all while hiding a peaty punch. Like getting slapped silly by a lady in satin.



6 thoughts on “Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask Review

  1. Apparently FoL in the USA can’t get Cairdeas delivered to the USA and it was never provided to retailers in New Jersey, USA. So …. the email I received and all subsequent emails are just marketing fluff. I’m terribly disappointed.


    • Hi Khürt, what did the email you got from Laphroaig say? Would you mind sending it to me? For the 2015 Cairdeas, I noticed that bottles started popping up at retailers around the US several months after it was released. Do you think perhaps this might be the case for New Jersey?


      • I wish I could attach a screen shot of the email. Here’s the text of what was written.

        Dearest Friends of Laphroaig®,

        Throughout my time, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting like-minded whisky lovers all over the world. Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by friends new and old, our passion for Islay’s finest bringing us together. Each year, Distillery Manager John Campbell celebrates the special relationship we share with our Friends of Laphroaig® with a special whisky crafted just for you. I’m pleased to announce this year’s release—Laphroaig® Cairdeas Madeira Cask.

        Named after the Gaelic word for friendship, this year’s Cairdeas was created using fully-matured Laphroaig® aged in ex-bourbon barrels which are then artfully married together for a second maturation in Madeira seasoned traditional hogsheads. Like Laphroaig®, these former wine casks from the Madeira islands spent years breathing in the sea air. Their influences can be tasted in the distinct flavors they impart on our whisky. The result is a peaty, earthy flavour with a hint of dry saltiness. Creamy orange tones follow as this Cairdeas finishes with a bold and lingering spicy dryness. It is a whisky as unique as the friendships it is meant to celebrate. As always, I’d love to hear your opinions.

        I invite you to visit to learn more and seek out Cairdeas at your favorite whisky retail store. There are limited bottles available, so don’t wait too long.

        In my mind, there is nothing better than a dram of Laphroaig® in good company. So raise a glass of Cairdeas with your friends. It was crafted for just such an occasion.


        Simon Brooking
        Master Ambassador

        Liked by 1 person

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