Laphroaig knows the secret to making friends for life: Offer them a limited-release single-malt Scotch.
Every year, Laphroaig, known for its smoky, intensely peaty Scotches, shares a special-release bottle called the Cáirdeas (gaelic for friendship, pronounced “car-ches”) and generally releases only a few thousand bottles worldwide.
The first of these are always offered up to friends of the distillery, which is really a membership program you can join by buying any of their bottles and going to this site, before the rest are sent to store shelves.
This year’s release is Cairdeas Quarter Cask: a special release of the distillery’s Quarter Cask bottling, except this one is bottled at 114.4 proof.
A Quarter Cask is a bit of a complicated whisky to make. The distillery lays down whisky in first-fill bourbon casks (barrels that just recently held bourbon) for 5 or more years. Then they select some of these to be re-barreled in quarter-sized casks for a period of six months. This process increases the amount of whisky-to-wood surface area contact, extracting more flavor from the barrel staves.
Typically this is a tasty, wood-and-vanilla forward whisky. But with the 2017 Cáirdeas release, those notes are intensified, to the degree that the oak smells and tastes like it’s been freshly cut in the very room you’re occupying — while you’re crushing vanilla beans in your hand at the same time. The resulting whisky is a bit dry on the palate, but balances that out with a unique oily texture that only comes with cask strength whiskies that are non-chill filtered.
At $80 it’s a steal for more seasoned peated whisky devotees, since the odds of seeing it again in the next few years are low. Laphroaig does do a good job of rotating its limited-edition products in and out of distribution, so hopefully we’ll see more of this particular bottle in the future.
With fall looming on the horizon, a nice smoky, full-flavored whisky feels like the perfect companion for your upcoming campfire drinking circle. We obviously didn’t wait that long.