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.
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.
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…
|2008||Laphroaig Càirdeas||55%||Quarter casks finished in first-fill bourbon plus a pair of sherry butts|
|2009||Laphroaig Càirdeas 12yo||57.5%||Ex-Maker’s Mark casks|
|2010||Laphroaig Càirdeas Master Edition||57.3%||50% ex-bourbon hogsheads (11yo), 50% first-fill ex-bourbon (15, 17 and 19yo)|
|2011||Laphroaig Càirdeas Ileach Edition||50.5%||Dunnage-matured, first-fill ex-Maker’s Mark casks, 8yo.|
|2012||Laphroaig Càirdeas Origin||51.2%||50% casks of the 2008 Cairdeas left to mature for a further four years, 50% 7yo fully matured in quarter casks|
|2013||Laphroaig Càirdeas Port Wood Edition||51.3%||Bourbon matured finished in port casks|
|2014||Laphroaig Càirdeas Bottled 2014||51.5%||First-fill bourbon finished in Amontillado sherry hogsheads|
|2015||Laphroaig Càirdeas 200th Anniversary Edition||51.5%||100% barley floor-malted at Laphroaig, matured in ex-bourbon casks|
|2016||Laphroaig Càirdeas Madeira Cask||51.6%||Ex-bourbon finished in Madeira casks|
|2017||Laphroaig Càirdeas Cask Strength Quarter Cask||57.2%||Undiluted bottling of Laphroaig Quarter Cask|
|2018||Laphroaig Càirdeas Fino Cask||51.8%||First-fill bourbon finished in Fino sherry casks|
|2019||Laphroaig Càirdeas Cask Strength Triple Wood||59.5%||Undiluted bottling of Laphroaig Triple Wood|
|2020||Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine Casks||52%||Ex-bourbon and second-refill ruby port casks, married and finished in ex-red wine casks.|
|2021||Laphroaig Càirdeas Pedro Ximénez Casks||58.9%||American oak, then quarter casks then European-oak PX hogsheads|
|2022||Laphroaig Càirdeas Warehouse 1||52.2%||All matured in warehouse #1 by the sea|
|2023||Laphroaig Càirdeas White Port and Madeira||52.3%||Three-quarters finished in second-fill madeira casks, one quarter from first-fill port casks mostly white port|
Chase the Rainbow
Other Laphroaig Càirdeas Releases
Along with the annual release, there have been a couple of other releases under the Laphroaig Càirdeas name:
|2008||Laphroaig Càirdeas 30 Year Old||60% sherry and 40% bourbon, vatted and finished in ex-bourbon. Only 1536 bottles.|
|2017||Laphroaig Càirdeas 15 Year Old||2012 vintage. Ex-bourbon.|