Drinking aggressively smoky Scotch isn’t typically a summertime pursuit (a troubling failure of imagination). But when Laphroaig—possibly the most distinctive of all heavyweight malts from the isle of Islay—releases a special bottling, we take note, seasonal biases be damned. Càirdeas (CAR-chuss) means friendship in Gaelic; for the last several years, the distillery has released unique and very limited Càirdeas editions of Laphroaig during the Fèis Ìle, or Islay Festival. This year, for the first time, us Yanks get some friendship too (about 3,750 bottles of it, give or take). Called the Ileach (or native) Edition, it’s a lively eight-year-old, aged in Maker’s Mark barrels stored in earthen-floor warehouses near the crashing sea. It’s an uncompromising, burly blitz of peat and sea brine that finishes like a charcoal-fueled fire, leaving you with a lingering, bourbon-touched sweetness. A splash of water brings out candied fruit and toffee. Càirdeas is bottled at 50.5%, suggested at $60, available only in New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington and Minnesota (or through the Friends of Laphroaig website), and certainly not for the faint of heart.

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