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
Cask: First in ex-bourbon barrels then married and finished in hogshead casks seasoned with Madeira.
Price: £69.30 from Laphroaig Distillery