Tag Archive: 45-50% ABV


timorous-beastie-21-year-sherry-edition

Douglas Laing: Timorous Beastie: 21 Year Sherry Edition (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 46.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thick streaks.

Nose: Strawberry yogurt. Blackcurrant. Moderate oak. Vanilla. Mince pies. Dry. Water adds dried apricot and stewed fruit notes. Treacle. Oily character. Later you get red wine, port and more blackcurrant.

Body: Strawberry. Lots of sherry. Dried spice. Thai 7 spice jars. Dry. Sultanas. Water makes sweeter and spice raisins.

Finish: Blueberry. Mince pies. Dry. Vanilla. Sultanas. Thai 7 spice. Water makes much more spicy. Slight marzipan. Red wine.

Conclusion: This is very sherried, emphasising the drier end of the spectrum as well. It seems sweeter on the nose than it actually turns out to be – on the aroma it promises almost strawberry yogurt kind of notes. However this sweetness doesn’t really penetrate the body. Instead you get darker fruit, mince pies, Christmas spices and dry wine – it gives quite the intense but not harsh character.

There are some light sweet notes – some vanilla, and some parts of the blueberry are sweet, but these elements are rounding ones, not the notes emphasised.

It is nice enough like that – a bit one note but I was enjoying it – water however brings out a slight stewed fruitiness that gives it that tiny hint extra sweetness it needs. Now it is very rewarding, balancing and giving a huge range of flavour within the sherry style.

Then if you give it just a bit of time it rewards you yet again – giving much more red wine and dark fruits amongst the suet mince pie dryness. It is a brilliant example of sherry work here, emphasising it to heavy degree without become so overpowered by it that it becomes one note and dull which can be a flaw on heavily sherried whisky.

It is just fruity enough to let that re-emphasise the dry spiciness. Very nice and complex. I heartily approve. As a vinous, fruity, drying and sherried whisky in equal measure this is a big one I have no hesitation in recommending if you can afford it.

Background: So, Independent Spirit did another one of their Uber whisky tastings – their last one was the first of their tastings I went to and was sensational, so of course I jumped on this one. This is the first of five whiskies had that night. As it was a social event, and due to having more whisky back to back than I normally do for notes these may be slightly shorter and more scattered notes that usual. I did my best for you all though. Kicked off big with a 21 year blended malt. Don’t think I have ever tried standard Timorous Beastie – however its existence led to me winning a pub quiz once as the image of the mouse on the front meant that I knew what animal the term refers to. See? Drinking is good for knowledge.

ailsa-bay-eponymous-bottling

Ailsa Bay – Eponymous bottling (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 48.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellowed gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Big smoke. Chinese stir fry vegetables. Moss. Salted rocks. Vanilla. Peppermint. Water cleans out the vegetable notes.

Body: Vanilla. Smoke. Light fudge. Salt. Slightly medicinal. Water smooths. More vanilla. Slight lime. Slight bready character. Malt chocolate.

Finish: Peat. Malt chocolate. Light salt. Vanilla. Slight greenery. Water adds honey sweetness. More malt chocolate to choc orange. Quite drying. Slight Chinese stir fry vegetables.

Conclusion: This is another whisky that I am glad I gave a while to open up before doing notes. When I first broke this open about a week ago, it seemed very dominated by a stir fry vegetable character behind the smoke. A very bad look for nearly any whisky. Anyway, these days where I can I give the whisky a week or so before I do notes, time for the vapours to roam the now less than full bottle. It often helps, so, we now try the whisky in that state.

This is still very peat forward, drying and smokey with slightly medicinal and salted notes – though it is not overly tied to those last two concepts. Instead the main backing to the peat is a gentle, smooth toffee sweetness. Neat it still has a bit of the stir fry in the aroma, but that goes with water. With a lot of water that stir fry returns to linger in the finish- so it is a balancing act to find the sweet spot on this one.

Still, in the middle, with just enough water you get a nice balance of both worlds. You get the sweetness, the peat – a good intensity backed by a good sweetness. Despite the texture it is never easy drinking, but it is not due to any fire or harsh spirit notes – in fact it plays very smooth, and even enhances itself with some chocolate notes as the water comes in.

So, with water, does it have any problems? Well, a couple – a big one is the cost. For all the peat and sweetness it brings, and the impressive texture, it is still a young whisky. It lacks a certain complexity – I find the Ardmore does sweet and peat better and with more subtlety – or if you want the intense side, for this cost you can get Laphroaig Quarter Cask – which is a legend that shows how to really get the most out of small cask ageing.

This is a good show for a first release, though marred by those stir fry notes mentioned – but it does not match the complexity or quality you would expect for the price. There are much better, similar whiskies. I anticipate good things from this distillery, but unless you really must try the first release, I would hold out for a later, richer, expression.

Background: This was a Christmas gift from my parents – many thanks! This is a no age statement bottling, but the Ailsa Bay Distillery has been part of the Girvan distillery since 2007, so it with this being released in 2016 it would probably have a max age of about 8 years, and probably less. This highly peated whisky has been “Micro matured” by which I presume they mean aged in a smaller cask so there is more contact with the wood. The label lists this as having a pppm of 21 (peat raing) and sppm of 11 (google tells me this is the sweetness rating -not seen that before). Drunk while listening to Ulver – atgclvlsscap, a weird experimental mash up that gave a lovely haunting backdrop to the drinking.

The Tweeddale: 14 Year Batch 5 (Scottish Blended Whisky: 14 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed grain.

Viscosity: Fast streaks.

Nose: Light. Husked grains. Wholegrain cereal. Water does little to change.

Body: Very smooth. Honey. Light grapes. Very mild alcohol character. Smooth lime cordial. Water makes bigger toffee and bigger body. More water adds vanilla custard and slight lemon meringue.

Finish: Light malt drinks. White grapes. Key lime pie. Water makes more toffee character and chocolate eclair toffee sweets. Apples.

Conclusion: This is 46% abv? No way! The character actually reminded me of the Irish Whiskey style with its sweetness and lightness of drinking character – not a 46% abv blended scotch at that. I’m having my expectations kicked away a lot recently.

Oddly water actually gives it more body, not less, bringing out a big toffee and a more traditional whisky character. The world is topsy turvy today.

Aside from that I’m mainly getting gentle honey sweetness and soft lime and such green fruit flavours. The aroma does very little, with or without water – just slight grain and cream – so, generally, the body onwards is left to do all the heavy lifting and work.

Despite its light character water is vital for opening up the main body. Seemingly a too light Irish whiskey wannabe neat, as water comes in the toffee and green fruit become more present and more varied – going from toffee, to toffee eclair sweets, and from grapes to lime, apples and so on.

The description of this mentions that an Islay cask was used to add some smoke to it – I’m not really getting it myself – Having read it I can kind of apply it to the notes that exist, but that is kind of cheating. Before I read it they came across more like the grain whisky influence that any peat influence.

So, is it good, and from that, is it worth it? Erm,give me a mo to check how much this is going for and I will let you know. Ok, official price seems to be mid 40 quid, but available for mid to late 30s. I wouldn’t drop the official price on it, but at under 40 – yeah I would say it is worth that. It blends the easy drinking style akin to Irish whisky with a good solid Scotch weight of flavour. Not overly complex, more a general sipping whisky, but very well done as that – especially at getting such a smooth character at an above average abv, while still giving a satisfying flavour. So, sits well in the niche it has carved for itself.

Background: Bias Warning: This sample was given to me by Independent Spirit for doing notes on, they also kindly provided the photo of the bottle as I did not have my camera on me at the time. Many thanks. This is a blended whisky made with 50% grain and 50% malt – from 1 grain whisky and 8 malts. Drink while listening to more of Pulp. Yes I am on a Pulp kick at the moment. The bottle it came from is one of 1200 bottles.

Pittyvaich 1989: 25 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 49.9% ABV)

Visual: Middling intensity grain colour.

Viscosity: A few middling streaks, mainly slow puckering.

Nose: Cereal grain. Alcohol. Vanilla.

Body: Cream, Pineapple chunks and tropical tinned fruit. Alcohol. Honey to dry mead. Water smooths, lightly waxy touch. Light creamy raspberry and fudge.

Finish: White chocolate chunks. Alcohol. Cheerios. Light wood shavings. Tropical tinned fruit. Water brings more tropical fruit, smoother character and a light oily sheen.

Conclusion: I find it odd, people say that first impressions are so important – yet cask strength whisky, highly prized and in demand cask strength whisky – will rarely be at its best when first encountered, before water has been added.

So, yeah, without water this is a bit closed and alcohol filled. Though, despite the alcohol being evident this still feels pretty smooth – especially for one that is nearly 50% abv. I guess I good bit of age can do that – but despite the smoothness there is an alcohol presence that makes it hard to get into. Then again, nearly 50% abv, I can’t say that was unexpected.

Even with the water, the aroma doesn’t say much – a fairly simple and predominantly grain filled kind of thing. So this is two for two on lack of good first impressions.

So, with all that in mind let’s check out the main body onwards with a bit of influence from the miracle worker that is water. Ok, here it becomes very smooth, creamy, slightly but only slightly waxy. All this with just a touch of water. So, for the mouthfeel it is a spot on mix between smoothness and yet still nicely viscous in texture. A lot of aged whisky can become too light, even before water, this still has enough weight to avoid that trap.

Flavour wise the base spirit seems quite neutral as I am getting less from that and more from a master-class on American bourbon oak ageing. Lots of tinned tropical fruit, white chocolate, dried pineapple chunks. All very smooth, fresh and easy drinking – Very enjoyable, however it does show that the base whisky seems to be giving more of a feel than a flavour here.

If I drank this blind, I think it would do well – it is a very tasty, smooth, general drinking whisky. With water it is far unlike its initial strength and almost too easy to sip large amounts of. As an example of the distillery though, especially as an expensive dead distillery, it doesn’t stand out much. The impressive characteristics seem to come from the oak for flavour, and age for smoothness. Now those are very good characteristics – smooth, fresh but grounded by a solid cereal character. Which are available in much cheaper whisky. Which is the problem. Go for those cheaper bourbon show whiskies.

Though I will say, aside from that I am very much enjoying this – the texture is where the whisky shines – smooth enough, creamy enough and just waxy enough. It may not have unusual flavour, but it has the feel.

So, not on the must try list of dead distilleries – but on its merits alone it is pretty good, just not silly money good.

Background: Treating myself time again – This is a from a distillery closed in 1993, which considering it only opened in 1974 is one short lived distillery. Grabbed from The Whisky Exchange – this was the bottle I grabbed when I got all those miniatures I did notes on a short while back. Thought about saving for a special occasion, but I still have one special bottle saved for when I hit 300 whisky notes, so decided to treat myself now. The distillery was mainly used for blends so there were never very many single malt bottlings of it around – this one was distilled in 1989 and bottled 2014 at cask strength. It is one of 5922 bottles (number 827 to be exact).

Raasay: While We Wait (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear rose wine.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Rose wine and glacier cherries. Perfume. Vanilla toffee. Pencil shavings. Stays the same with water.

Body: Smooth, with some alcohol to the middle. Rose wine. Perfume. Malt chocolate toffee drinks. Light wood. Water makes smoother and adds more toffee. Cherry pocked biscuits. More water adds light treacle.

Finish: Light charred wood. Alcohol numbing. Vanilla custard. Water brings out rose wine and light white grapes. Cherry pocked biscuits and light treacle.

Conclusion: This is my second dram of this. I have found that the first pour out of a bottle tends not to be the best, so I have taken to doing notes on the second dram onwards where possible. The first drink came across as quite perfumed, and turned out a bit simple and unappealing – just perfumed frippery.

This dram? Well it is still fairly perfumed, which is not my favourite way of doing things, but not intrinsically bad. The rest of the whisky? Well it has pulled itself up a bit.

The main thing, which I think is also what gives such a perfumed character, is the unusual barrel finishes’ influence. Lots of rose wine styling, lots of cherries. It doesn’t really change that much with water, will get to what does change in a moment, but in general it just gets clearer and a less alcohol touched base to work from.

The main thing that the water does change is bringing out a more recognisably traditional whisky style base. It is much more identifiable as what you would expect with toffee sweetness and a treacle thick set of notes – a more typical expression that the atypical rose wine flavours that they enhance. This pretty good progression – neat it is still too perfumed, this gives it some depth.

So, neat it is still not quite for me, but it is interesting. With water I can appreciate it though – not the fanciest or best put together whisky, but the more traditional feel helps. Though I will say the traditional feel and the rose style notes don’t mesh perfectly, but it manages ok. Hope when they turn out their own whisky they balance it a bit better, but for now it is an interesting enough holding pattern to turn out.

Background: Ok, picking a region for this one was difficult. Raasay is a new distillery on, surprise, the island of Raasay. So, obviously this is under the Island set right? Nope. You see the Raasay distillery has only just opened, their whisky will not be showing up for a long time. This is a mix of peated and unpeated whisky from an unnamed Highland distillery – so that is what I have listed it under. It is also finished in Tuscan wine casks. I k now nothing about Tuscan wine, but it sounds interesting. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the odd noise to music ambient thing that is Clonic Earth.


Ballechin: 10 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 10 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Very slow, thin streaks.

Nose: Massive peat and beef broth. Grassy. Beef crisps. Slight alcohol, but mainly smooth. Water adds a slight menthol character.

Body: Sweet apricot front. Light granite and alcohol. Intense smoke. Peaty beef. Short lived toffee. Lime syrup. Brown bread. Caramel and treacle. Water makes smoother and grassier. Fruitcake. More water adds apples, slight creamy character and dried apricot.

Finish: Barbecued charred beef. Smoke and peat. Lightly grassy. Caramelized brown sugar and malted drinks. Light custard. Water adds cherry and black cherries. Orange crème. Caramel. Chocolate liqueur.

Conclusion: Well, this really is different to Edradour, which you may feel goes without saying, but even for a peated expression this felt different. Question is, is it any good?

Well, intense peat booms out from the front – beefy, smoky, you know the drill by now. Not much else at this point – none of the Islay harshess that peat often calls to mind, and the native Highland sweetness is well hidden. There is a slight grassy character, Springbank style, but otherwise you just get the peat ascendant here.

There is a sweet front when you sip, but it is rapidly punched down by the peat. In fact, let’s skip ahead a bit – basically all I was going to say for the experience without water is peat and beef – simple, ok, but very one note. Let’s get past all that and get some water play going already.

Now the goof old Edradour character I know comes out – there is still booming peat, but now matched by a lightly creamy and very fresh fruit whisky underneath. In fact even some of the caramel sweetness starts coming out to play. More recognisable as a cousin to Edradour and much better for it.

Lots of fresh apples and cream, drying smoke and peat – the sweetness is more treacle and caramel with lots of dark touches. Even with water there is some prickly alcohol though. It feels pretty unbalanced – the flavours aren’t well matched, but it is an interesting experience. It feels like an attempt to shove all the whisky regions into one – grass from Campbeltown, Islay peat, Highland sweetness and Speyside fruitiness. Island and lowland, erm, ok, I can’t think of any for them, but run with me on this one ok?

I can’t say I would recommend it as it is too all over the place, but it is not bad. However we seem to have a renaissance of peated, sweet and light whisky going on right now and there are many that play the game far better. Ok, but with nothing to call its unique element.

Background: Doing a lot of the peated variants on distilleries whisky at the moment it seems. This is a peated take on the Edradour whisky which I grabbed from The Whisky Exchange. Thought it was worth grabbing a bunch of miniatures while I ordered a normal sized bottle . Not much more to add. Drunk while listening to Against Me!’s live album.

Ardbeg: Perpetuum (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 47.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold.

Viscosity: Medium speed and thickness streaks.

Nose: Smoke. Oily fish skins. Intense. Swordfish steak. Creamy. Salt sea spray. Wet rocks. Light sherry trifle – especially sherry soaked sponge and brandy cream. Water adds floral and crushed grit notes.

Body: Warming. Noticeable alcohol. Rum and raisins. Brown bread. Beef broth. Peaty. Sherry trifle. Oily and creamy feel mix. Cream flavour notes. Water makes less alcohol, adds lime cordial and bigger peat. Orange crème, vanilla fudge and far more trifle come out.

Finish: Peat. Dry. Dried beef slices. Raisins sweetness. Trifle. Light cherries. Vanilla toffee. Cream. Malt drinks. Water adds lime, peppercorn, fudge pavlova, red wine and gentle spice.

Conclusion: Intense. Very intense. Creamy. Full on peat yet aged smoothness of character. Vanilla bourbon sweetness and sherry full on flavours. Damn. Just, damn. Normally peaty whisky is a trade off. The intenseness of the peat is a young whisky’s game, and fades with age. Smoothness is the character of distinguished age that young whisky cannot match. Mixing young and old spirit this manages to do both. I really sounded like a corporate shill there didn’t I? However, hell, it is true.

Neat it has all of the salt, medicinal character, peat and meat character you would expect of an Islay, especially an Ardbeg. The alcohol is warming and present but doesn’t get in the way of a smooth but intense Ardbeg expression. Here the bourbon sweetness leads with vanilla toffee and fudge notes, working alongside the intense style – however there are hints from the sherry on the side giving raisins and sherry trifle notes.

The use of water flips this around – much more smooth, beafy and peaty, but the sweet sherry trifle and spice take the floor for a richer, fuller, and more balanced take. More mellow, but still intense, with much more going on.

Of course, if then you want to flip it back to bourbon influence leading again, then you have to pour yourself another measure. Oh the pain. Then add water to sherry it up, then pour another shot to get the bourbon back, then… and so on as the infinite loop continues in perpetuity. Ok, that time I really did sound like a corporate shill.

Jokes aside, this is legitimately great – hits all the range of Islay – salt, beef, oil, peat – and all the character of an aged whisky in smoothness, bourbon and sherry character. One of the few whiskies that I can easily say is worth the best part of a hundred quid price tag.

Background: Special whisky time. This is one that I had been umming and ahhing about if I should get it for a while, the 200th anniversary bottling of Ardbeg, but it is a tad expensive. In the end it was got for me as a gift thus solving my dilemma. Many thanks indeed! It is a mix of old and young whisky, and a mix of bourbon and sherry ageing. It was released during Feis Ile 2015. I was trying to save it until after going to see The Libertine play at the theatre, it just seemed appropriate, but my willpower failed and I drank it a day early. Which kind of also was appropriate all things considered. Drunk while listening to Dethklok – Dethalbum 3. A big whisky deserves big music.

Glen Scotia: 15 Year (Scottish Single Malt Campbeltown Whisky: 15 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Quite a few fast, thick streaks.

Nose: Golden syrup cakes. Gingerbread. Light alcohol presence. Chestnut honey. Coffee cake. Nutty. Milk chocolate.

Body: Light up front. Coffee cake. Gritty. Alcohol at the back. Dry honey. Water brings out grassy and slightly waxy character. Apricot. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Gritty. Bitter. Shredded wheat. Coffee cake, Grassy. Chocolate malt drinks. Sour dough. Water makes waxy and slight brown bread. Dried apricot and light spice.

Conclusion: Darn it, just when I thought I was getting into Glen Scotia. On the nose this looked to be another one playing a binder. In fact looked good on the eyes as well. It all looked set to take a deeper, darker set of flavours to play amongst the native grassy, slightly waxy character.

Yeah, well, the body didn’t deliver that. I’ve given it both time and water and neither helped that much. For such a strong aroma, and for a respectable 46% ABV, the body actually comes in very light up front. Behind that initial light impression it is then a tad gritty – you do get some apricot and coffee notes but generally it Is emptier and yet also slightly rougher than expected. I can like rough but with big flavour. I can live with a light front for a smooth character. This has neither.

The finish is more to expectations with that Campbeltown grassy character, but again coming in a bit gritty. Throughout the whisky there is a solid coffee cake character, and a light waxy style, which are the best characteristics. Together by themselves they would provide a gripping and soothing whisky. Unfortunately put together with everything else it, overall, feels rough and empty in a slightly contradictory fashion.

Not doing much to bring me back to Glen Scotia again.

Background: Bit of a mixed background for old Glen Scotia, I love the Campbeltown area, but mainly for Springbank, on the other hand I recently tried a miniature of Glen Scotia that I adored, so I decided to grab this 15 year from Independent Spirit to give a try. There are only three distilleries in Campbeltown now, two of which owned by the same people. This is the odd third child of the group. Drank while listening to Garbage – Strange Little Birds, still not as good as their first two albums but I’ve not got bored of it yet which is a good sign.

The Old Malt Cask Blair Athol 12 year

The Old Malt Cask: Blair Athol: 12 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Grain, fairly light coloured.

Viscosity: A few, quite fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Heather. Honey. Lightly waxy. Light herbal tea and mint leaves. Vanilla. Sugared almonds. Water adds wet oak.

Body: Honey and custard slices. Warming and lightly oaken. Cake sponge. Smooth. Sugared almonds. Water makes golden syrup and more nutty. More water adds apricot and more custard slices.

Finish: Malt drinks. Wood shavings. Slightly dry. Light peppery. Light waxy. Vanilla toffee. Honey. Water makes sugared almonds come out and light strawberry. More water orange crème and light menthol notes.

Conclusion: I will not hold Bells again this, I will not hold Bells against this. I will not hold Bells against this. Yep, as mentioned in the background, it is time for me to take on a single malt take on one of the main components of Bells whisky. I am not a fan of Bells whisky. Anyway, this is nicely smooth, especial for a 50% abv whisky. Frankly, I have had far weaker whisky burn far stronger on sipping. Good job. This also has a very familiar, general, whisky character. It is probably due to the fact that it used in one of the most common blends, that it seems very familiar even here in the single malt form. However here it has none of the roughness, just feels very typical of what you would expect when you hear the word “whisky”.

The flavours call to mind a sweeter take on a Strathisla. It has a similar nutty character which I appreciate, but here it is a bit more easy going, and a bit smoother – with notes of honey and vanilla custard building the sweetness up.

It all hangs together very well, a solid flavour set that matches light apricot fruit. Mixed sweetness, light peppiness and good nuttiness. Nothing too unusual but very smoothly done, and the flavours back each other up very well.

On top of that, let’s face it, it only seems slightly generic as Bells is often many people’s first, terrible, experience of whisky. It is well known and so will seem familiar. If this stood in the palce of Bells as a standard dram I would have no complaints at all.

A genuinely solid dram, nothing unusual, but very nicely done. Another good whisky for anyone who wants to try a good whisky that shows what the base characteristics of whisky should be.

Background: Normally I try to support the smaller local shops, however this is an exception. One of the branches of “The Whisky Shop” opened in Bath a while back, so I poked my nose in and noticed they had this smaller bottle of Blair Athol. A whisky I have tried a few times, and in fact visited the distillery, but have never done notes of. So I decided to grab a bottle to fill in the gap in my blog’s notes. Anyway, this, as mentioned in the main body, is one of the main single malts used in the Bells blend. This particular one was distilled 2012 and put in the bottle 2014. Aged in a refill hogshead this is non chill filtered. I think that covers it. Drunk while listening to Clonic Earth again, that is one odd mix of white noise, haunting atmosphere and unnerving sound.

Lagavulin 8 Year

Lagavulin 8 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 48% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain with a soft green brackishness.

Viscosity: Very slow, thin to medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Salty sea spray. Strong alcohol. Wet moss. Medicinal air. Water adds salted lemon.

Body: Medicinal. Salt. Strong alcohol. Traditional lemonade. Salty pebbles. Soft yet salted lemon. Water adds a slight golden syrup and more pebbles. More water adds mini marshmallows. Light strawberry and dark chocolate hints. Salted orange.

Finish: Dry. Medicinal spirit. Salted lemon. Dry charred beef bits. More lemon with water. Slight marshmallows. More water adds light malt drinks.

Conclusion: This reminds me in a way of Laphroaig select. A whisky I have not yet done tasting notes on here. So that is a helpful comparison. Let me explain then. They both have less of the distinct brute force that their older cousins have. They both are just slightly dry, but also that lighter character lets additional sweetness through.

For comparisons sake it is helpful that we nicknamed Laphroaig Select “Laphroaig Lemonade” after a whisky show attendant commented that it would be like lemonade for standard Laphroaig fans. Why is that appropriate? Because this younger interpretation, of the Lagavulin spirit has a very salted lemon characteristic to it that makes me think of traditional lemonade.

Do not fear, there is still a heap of Islay character – lots of salt, medicinal notes and wet pebbles and wet moss. Oddly it is missing a few of what I think of as defining Lagavulin characteristics. It lacks any of that thick, meaty character, and also goes very light on the peat smoke, to my surprise. It results in a much less chewy and more drying style to it.

What it gains is, when water is added, a lot of the notes which I presume are normally hidden behind the heavy Lagavulin character. There is subtle salted orange and even strawberry notes – and the extra strength of the whisky means there is a lot of room to explore with water for extra depths.

Don’t expect something too close to the standard Lagavulin 16 year and I think you will probably enjoy this one. It is very much its own thing – distinctly Islay, but not beholden to its older cousin. Initially I was disappointed by this because of my expectations, but I soon grew to enjoy it on its own charms, rather than what I expected it to be like. A very solid, fruity, lemony, Islay whisky.

Background: This one has been a long time coming, much to the annoyance of my mate Tony who had repeatedly asked me when I will pull my thumb out and actually break this one open. Well, today is the day! This is a special limited release to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin, and as a huge Lagavulin fan I had to make sure I grabbed a bottle. So I did. From independent spirit. Again.

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