Laphroaig Càirdeas – with a little help from our friends

Laphroaig, despite being the biggest-selling Islay whisky, doesn’t mess around with many special edition bottlings. The distillery has a solid core range, an occasional selection of older and more expensive bottlings, and a few travel retail exclusives, but it focuses almost all of its special-edition efforts on a single bottle each year: Laphroaig Càirdeas.

Care Chase?

Back in 2008, Laphroaig decided to fully embrace its fan club – the Friends of Laphroaig (FoL) – and launched Càirdeas (pronounced a bit like ‘care chase’) as a yearly bottling to celebrate its existence. Uncoincidentally, its name is gaelic for ‘friendship’ and it is launched at Fèis Ìle (the annual Islay Festival of Music and Malt) every year, the time when the distillery has more Friends visiting than at any other time.

Laphroaig

However, bucking the trend of other distilleries on the island, it’s not specifically a festival bottling. It’s the yearly Friends of Laphroaig release, and as such it makes its way slowly around the world, available from the Laphroaig webshop exclusively for FoL members, as well as popping up on the shelf in markets they can’t ship to.

There’s been an array of releases over the years, each showing off the distillery’s focus of the moment. While they started out with more interesting vattings of casks, they have become a little less complex in recent years, focusing on fan favourites and finishes.

Laphroaig Càirdeas annual releases so far…

YearWhiskyNotes
2008Laphroaig CàirdeasQuarter casks finished in first-fill bourbon plus a pair of sherry butts
2009Laphroaig Càirdeas 12yoEx-Maker’s Mark casks
2010Laphroaig Càirdeas Master Edition50% ex-bourbon hogsheads (11yo), 50% first-fill ex-bourbon (15, 17 and 19yo)
2011Laphroaig Càirdeas Ileach EditionDunnage-matured, first-fill ex-Maker’s Mark casks, 8yo.
2012Laphroaig Càirdeas Origin50% casks of the 2008 Cairdeas left to mature for a further four years, 50% 7yo fully matured in quarter casks
2013Laphroaig Càirdeas Port Wood EditionBourbon matured finished in port casks
2014Laphroaig Càirdeas Bottled 2014First-fill bourbon finished in Amontillado sherry hogsheads
2015Laphroaig Càirdeas 200th Anniversary Edition100% barley floor-malted at Laphroaig, matured in ex-bourbon casks
2016Laphroaig Càirdeas Madeira CaskEx-bourbon finished in Madeira casks
2017Laphroaig Càirdeas Cask Strength Quarter CaskUndiluted bottling of Laphroaig Quarter Cask
2018Laphroaig Càirdeas Fino CaskFirst-fill bourbon finished in Fino sherry casks
2019Laphroaig Càirdeas Cask Strength Triple WoodUndiluted bottling of Laphroaig Triple Wood
2020Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine CasksEx-bourbon and second-refill ruby port casks, married and finished in ex-red wine casks.
2021Laphroaig Càirdeas Pedro Ximénez CasksAmerican oak, then quarter casks then European-oak PX hogsheads
2022Laphroaig Càirdeas Warehouse 1All matured in warehouse #1 by the sea
2023Laphroaig Càirdeas White Port and MadeiraDetails TBC

Chase the Rainbow

Laphroaig Càirdeas Collection
My collection of the annual releases, complete as of 2021

Other Laphroaig Càirdeas Releases

Along with the annual release, there have been a couple of other releases under the Laphroaig Càirdeas name:

YearWhiskyNotes
2008Laphroaig Càirdeas 30 Year Old60% sherry and 40% bourbon, vatted and finished in ex-bourbon. Only 1536 bottles.
2017Laphroaig Càirdeas 15 Year Old2012 vintage. Ex-bourbon.

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