Although I own a ” square foot of Islay“, I have never actually set foot on the island to visit my minuscule plot of land, but thanks to the multimedia rich world in which we live, you don’t actually have to visit a place to get a feel for what it’s like…
On May 3, 2015, CBS aired a story on 60 Minutes called Whisky Island which focused on Islay; the island, the people, and of course, the whisky. This story belonged to Bob Simon. Unfortunately, Mr. Simon died before he was able to finish it, but thankfully he left behind plenty of footage and notes for the producers to work with. It’s a beautifully done story that leaves you with a strong sense of place and an incredible urge to board a plane, hop in a car, and board a ferry to get to this magical whisky wonderland.
Last summer, The West Coast Office did the planes/trains/automobiles/ferries thing and paid a visit to Whisky Island with the Boys from Single Cask Nation. Before he went, there was BIG TALK of daily dispatches from Scotland that would be posted on this here blog, but alas, things didn’t go as planned. Something about “I can drink. I can write. But I can’t drink AND write”. Lazy bastard.
Although the “daily dispatches” never happened, he did at least share a few of his photos with us. Here they are:
In addition to being a lazy bastard, he’s also a lucky one! Paying a visit to Laphroiag and the other distilleries on Islay is a definite Top 5 destination. One day I’ll get there. In the meantime, I can rest assured that every time I pour myself a glass of Laphroiag (or Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Caol Isla, Kilchoman, and Lagavulin), I’ll be transported to the only place in the world that can make this very unique whisky. And speaking of unique…
Every year, during the last week of May, the good people of Islay throw a week long party called Feis Ile. Music, dance, food, and whisky are what draw thousands of people to this festival, and many of the distilleries release a limited edition whisky to mark the event. Laphroiag calls their Feis Ile bottling Cairdeas (an ancient Gaelic word meaning friendship, goodwill or alliance). The Laphroiag Cairdeas 2014 is a double matured whisky that started its life in ex-bourbon barrels and then spent one year maturing in Amontillado Sherry hogsheads. Here are my impressions of this limited edition spirit…
- Appearance: Pale amber color.
- Aroma: There is no doubt that this is a peated Islay whisky but once you get past the smoke and medicinal notes, there’s a healthy dose of fruit in there too. Charcoal smoke, iodine, and sea spray are front and center. A bit of powdered sugar and baked apple is in there too. Finally, some vanilla and licorice show up at the very end.
- Taste: The mouthfeel is a touch on the oily side (that’s a good thing by the way). This starts off quite hot and spicy with a lovely balance of smoke, chile pepper, and baked apple. And let’s not forget those iodine and maritime notes. They’re there too! Did I mention that this whisky is quite intense? It’s really astringent too. The spiciness keeps building as you approach the finish with lots of vanilla and black pepper. The finish is long and soothing with a comforting warmth and a lingering herbal and spice aftertaste.
- ABV: 51.4%
Yum! Yum! Yum! That’s what I have to say about the Laphroiag Cairdeas 2014. Since there’s no age statement on this whisky, I’m going to assume that it’s pretty darn young. And I’m fine with that! This has the bold intensity that I really enjoy in a young Islay. If you like young, vibrant, and super flavorful whisky, then the Cairdeas 2014 is definitely worth a try.