Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Wakey Whisk(e)y: Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another beautiful gameday edition of #wakeywhiskey! This round I'll be getting into some scotch courtesy of the good people at Laphroaig. Usually I try to find a connection between the occasion and the whisk(e)y I choose to sip on in the morning, but LSU is playing at Mississippi State and I don't have any spirits from Mississippi in the collection. Honestly, I don't even know if there are any legal distilleries in the state. With that being said, Jay was generous enough to share a sample from Laphroaig with me, and of course I saved some for gameday morning.

Laphroaig's distillery was founded over 200 years ago in 1815 on the island of Islay in Scotland. Islay is known for peaty whiskys overall, although not all Islay whiskys are heavily peated. It's a small island with just over 3,000 residents, but they boast 8 distilleries (with more on the way) and even one brewery, Islay Ales! Laphroaig is situated on the southern coast of the island, about a mile from the Lagavulin distillery, which is less than a mile from the Ardbeg distillery... and those are just three. That's it, I'm putting Islay on my bucket list.

This particular sample from Laphroaig is their Cairdeas 2017 Cask Strength Quarter Cask Edition, clocking in at a robust 57.2% abv. At first I thought that Cairdeas must be some sort of wine that contributed their barrels to this aging, but upon further investigation I learned that Cairdeas is the Gaelic word for "friendship" and this is a special release for the Friends of Laphroaig members. See, you're never too old to learn something new! The whisky is actually aged in first-use bourbon barrels for 5+ years and then finished off for 6 months in American oak quarter casks prior to bottling at cask strength with only simple barrier filtration. Alright then, let's get into it!

My first thought on the nose is that this is a crazy smokey scotch, with a touch of peat and bit of honey sweetness. The flavors are all bold and powerful, and there's an unmistakable burn from the alcohol content, but not as much as I would expect from a 114.4 proof spirit. The taste is the same, with a lot of smoke and char, a little bit of peat, and followed by some more subtle sweet tones of honey and vanilla and a bit of a mineral water finish. After giving it a try neat I added an ice sphere to finish out the pour and that really helped the flavors mellow out and blend together without losing the essence of the spirit. The smokey notes still shine but more of the sweetness and oak character break through.

Overall, a fantastic pour, and it even further cements my desire to spend a few days touring the island of Islay. Now, as I recover from this powerful scotch, it's gameday! Geaux Tigers!

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