Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Review

And now for the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020. This annual release comes from whisky that was separately aged in ex-Bourbon and 2nd -Fill Ruby Port barriques. Those whiskies were blended together and left to marry and finish in red wine casks. Laphroaig had me at ruby port, but the red-wine marriage got me more intrigued than usual.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Review

Ever since the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013 I’ve been enamored with these annual releases and usually end up buying at least 2 more after trying the first one. The only ones I haven’t done this with were the Cairdeas 2014 Amontillado and the Cairdeas 2018 Fino Cask. Though I more than made up for those with the Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask and the stunning Cairdeas 2015. So… where will this one fit?


Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 – Details and Tasting Notes


Whiskey Details

Region: Islay, Scotland

Distiller: Laphroaig
Mash Bill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon, 2nd-Fill Ruby Port Barriques,  ex-Red Wine
Age: NAS
ABV: 52%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Batch: 2020

Price: $90

White background tasting shot with the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 bottle and a glass of whiskey next to it.
“Our 2020 annual release of Laphroaig Càirdeas, Port & Wine Casks, continues our long history of innovation. A unique marriage of our classic Laphroaig whisky rested in second-fill Ruby Port ‘barriques’ along with whisky double matured in ex-Bourbon barrels followed by ex-red wine casks. Soft, round and warming, it’s an incredible ‘friendship’ that charts continents, styles and flavours.” – Laphroaig

Tasting Notes

Ruby caramel

Smoke, leather, dried dark fruit, candied citrus, vanilla candy, malt, mulled wine, hazelnuts, herbal, plasticy, oily, sooty and earthy.

Smoke, malty sweet, strawberry shortcake, malty-hay, saline, herbal, copper, black licorice, sweat, vanilla frosting and candied citrus.

Long -> BBQ meat, freeze-dried strawberries, coppery wine.

Good, full-round, heavy oily.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 – Overall

Aroma is BBQ meat on leathery dark fruit with a candied citrus pop and light earthy notes that pull it all together into a shifting and engaging olfactory experience; Palate is like having the best strawberry shortcake you can imagine after eating perfectly grilled sardines; Finish is a touch smoky and that last, semi-metallic, sip of a red wine that’s sat out a bit too long.

This is weird, this is funky, this is unusual and over the course of two weeks, I went from feeling ambivalent to loving it.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 – Final Thoughts and Score

Ok, this is tasty and I’m going to need to pick up another one… or two… I need to check to see how many K&L have in stock. This is intensely flavorful and aromatic and shockingly easy to drink. Though a bit of water does help it along and brings out an added note of applewood smoked bacon which rises from the ambiguous BBQ note like a pork phoenix from ex-bourbon ashes.

Though what I think I love most about the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 is the way flavors and aromas clash and complement at the same time. Char, fruit and nuttiness battle and meet up with wine and port sweetness who all try to dominate the French pastry notes – yet never succeed. So they all decide to get along and present a whisky that’s chaotic but good-natured. A whisky I end up enjoying more and more with each sip. Delicious.

SCORE: 4/5

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Back Label

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Review


This is a Scotch drinker’s Scotch. It’s unique, interesting and pulls through in such a way that it’s hard to fully pin down and that’s what’s exciting about it. It’s a challenge that’s worth the work.


  • Nose


  • Palate


  • Finish


  • BBF



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