Tag Archive: 45-50% ABV


Gordon & MacPhail: Discovery Range: Tormore 13 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 13 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pale apple juice colour. Very slow puckering into medium thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Barley biscuits. Lightly metallic. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Apples and pears. Slight nail varnish. Sugar dusting. Rock dust. Water makes softer, with more green fruit and some pastry notes. Methanol touch.

Body: Vanilla fudge. Metallic alcohol touch. Pear note. Woody. Black peppery. Apple jam. Water makes softer. Custard. Pineapples. More green fruit.

Finish: Oak. Light charring and black pepper. Metallic. Strawberry cream touch. Notable alcohol. Malt chocolate. Fudge. Water adds melted chocolate toffee and menthol.

Conclusion: The first time I tried this, on first opening the bottle, I was not impressed. Slightly alcoholic, rough and not much flavour was the impression I got. It really felt like one to relegate to bulking up a blended whisky kind of malt.

So, now I have given it a few days to air, which tends to help, and there have been some changes going on here. Now, let’s be harsh first, cos the whisky sure is some times (Ba-dum-tch)

This is weirdly metallic with notable alcohol expressed – especially in the air of the finish. There is also a kind of nail varnish touch, so lots of odd off elements are expressed throughout.

So, yeah, still lots of issues with this. Water does help mellow the bad points, but they are still there – especially if you add too much water and go past the sweet spot where the rough notes come back with a vengeance. There is definitely a tipping point here when it comes to water.

However now, with a bit of time to air, there is some flavour to be found in there. Now you have soft apples, pears and general green fruit over a sweet toffee and custard base. Just a touch of water gives it a good grip and gets rid of the worst of the issues.

So, it is not a total write off now but, damn, I can’t recommend this. I can have a dram and not complain now I already have a bottle – but it has too many rough edges and too little in return for me to recommend getting a bottle to anyone else.

Not a good first impression for the distillery.

Background: This is one of the few, still running, single malt distilleries in Scotland that I have yet to try. So I grabbed a bottle. Went with Gordon & MacPhail as they have been good to me with their independent bottlings. This has been aged solely in bourbon casks so should be a quite clean expression of the spirit’s nature. This was bought from The Whisky Exchange, and drunk to the background of my mates playing Dungeons and Dragons over Skype as part of a lockdown catch up.

Douglas Laing: Big Peat A846: Feis Ile 2020 (Scottish Blended Malt Islay Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, slightly greened grain coloured spirit. Generally fast, middling sized streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Medical salve and medical bandages. Notable alcohol. Soft fudge. Soot and smoke. Clean medicinal iodine air. Calamine. Moss. Touch of clotted cream on scones. Water mutes it, adding sulphur. Wet rock. More smoke and still a medical cream note.

Body: Orange cream touch at front. Fudge. Lots of soot. Moss. Alcohol in a drying fashion. Drying in general. Burnt bark. Moderate thickness mouthfeel until it becomes dry. Water makes sweeter. More orange. Custard notes. Wet rocks.

Finish: Soot. Smoke and ash. Iodine. Drying. Medical cream. Harsh, slightly acrid. Vanilla fudge. Dried beef jerky. Slight dried lime air. Water adds orange cream and more fudge. Less drying character. Beef broth. Sweeter lime to choc lime.

Conclusion: So, back when I tried standard Big Peat I remember recommending having it neat over trying it with water. Water made it lose something. Also I remember that, for something called “Big Peat”, it had only moderate peat in my option. So, how does this one compare?

Well, I can start by saying that water definitely changes this one! Neat this leans very heavily into the medicinal Islay take, with soot and smoke rather than a full peat weight. It is so very drying, so much so that it is slightly too harsh and even slightly acrid.

It actually reminds me of Port Ellen in a few moments, with that calamine, medical cream and medical bandages odd notes amongst the more clean medicinal notes. There are hints of sweetness, but they are very low priority for a whisky that leaves your tongue dessicated and dry at the end of it. It feels like a whisky that could kill a cold with just a dram of the medicinal beast.

Oddly for a vatted malt it doesn’t feel smooth – it has a bit too much in the way of the rougher edges for me, and I don’t say that often. The weighty mouthfeel that it has at the front quickly dries so you don’t get the time needed to really appreciate it.

With water it is a very different dram. It is only slightly medicinal, and a tad more beefy peat and soot character – though still only moderate peat in my opinion. It is sweeter, some creamy fruit and more fudge, making a more balanced but less intense and obviously Islay styled body. It still has a medicinal, dry finish, but is a lot more forgiving in the rest of the dram.

Still not BIG Peat though. I may be a silly level peat head.

Overall – neat it is a tad too dry and astringent for me. Very medicinal. Very dry. Impressive but closed and doesn’t show the sweet contrast it has enough to pull it off. With water it loses the more interesting Islay characteristics but also becomes a more pleasant, if limited, dram.

Decent, but each version of it, with or without water, has flaws that keeps it from being one I would say to go for. It has lots to explore, but never hits its pinnacle of potential. Interesting, but there are better, similar priced islays.

Background: Big Peat! The vatted malt of Islay whiskies from Douglas Laing, this one a Feis Ile festival release limited to 3000 bottles. The A846 referenced a road on Islay, which also they reference with the 8 year old whisky and 46% abv. Very droll. Anyway, grabbed it from Independent Spirit to see how it went. Had different plans for music for this while drinking, but just as I was pouring Farewell Myth’s Made In Mexico came on , and it seemed to fit, so I left that playing.

Ardbeg: An Oa (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46.6% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly pale gold. A mix of slow and fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Brine. Fresh dough. Salt. Subtle white grapes. Wet rocks. Water adds peat, moss and crushed sunflower seeds.

Body: Medicinal. Sherry trifle. Salt. Solid peat centre. Fudge. Leather. Strawberry. Water adds muggy smoke and red grapes.

Finish: Ash, Peat smoke. Dry. Slight malt chocolate. Tobacco. Strawberry chocolate. Smoked beef. Slight grapes. Water adds more alcohol tingle. Trifle. Dry toffee. Toasted teacakes. White chocolate. Vanilla.

Conclusion: As always with full sized whisky bottles, I’ve had a few drams out of this already to give it time to open up and air before doing the proper tasting notes. Again, this extra time to air has definitely paid dividends.

It is mildly, and I must emphasise very mildly, restrained for an Ardbeg. Yep, what we have here is a medicinal, salty, peaty and briny beast, but just slightly mellowed from the standard 10 year. Don’t worry, this isn’t Ardbeg lemonade edition. It is still a beast, just a restrained beast. A restrained beast that can still be let loose at any time.

The restraint comes from a gentle toffee, fudge and trifle sweetness. While subtle in its neat form, this becomes very noticeable with water, even bringing out white chocolate and subtle grape notes into the mix. So, yep, another one where a touch of water really helps the whisky shine – but the bigger, booming and medicinal dram it is neat is no slouch either.

It is meaty, always smokey – from ash to smoked meat with nods to growling peat bogs when neat. However amongst the Ardbeg range it does feel like the approachable Ardbeg. Again, don’t worry it is still Ardbeg, it still fights.

The first few drams I had of this were only good. Now, with time to air, it is excellent. Lots of Ardbeg weight and salt, medicinal and peat but with more sweetness. Not Ardbeg Drum level sweet, just a more subtle, softer sweetness that really adds behind the Ardbeg punch.

At the price point this is just amazing. A must have for Islay fans.

Background: I saw this while in the duty free area of the airport in India. They were trying to convince me it was a travel exclusive. It is not. I grabbed this bottle from The Whisky Exchange. So there. This is a new(ish) addition to Ardbeg’s main line up. A no age statement whisky that has been aged in new charred oak, PX casks and first fill bourbon casks. Sounds very nice, and is decent priced so I grabbed a bottle. It also helps thats since its release it has won many an award – three of which are listed on the box – at the 2019 International Whisky Competition it got best Scottish Single Malt NAS, Best Isaly Single malt, and the distillery getting distillery of the year. Not bad, hope it lives up to its reputation. Went with Bad Religion: Age Of Unreason for music to listen to while drinking. Finally grabbed it as I had tickets to go see them live soon. Sooo, anyway, that isn’t happening now. Ah well.

Cu Bocan: Creation 1 – Imperial Stout and Moscatel Edition (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold. Thin slow streaks come from the spirit for the most part, with a few faster streaks standing out.

Nose: Salty. Honey. Peat smoke, Brown bread. Milky coffee. Vanilla. Water adds fudge and brandy cream.

Body: Warming. Honey. Peat smoke. Beef slices. Milky chocolate liqueur. Red grapes. Chocolate coated nuts. Brown bread. Water adds sweet red wine. Rum and raisins. Vanilla fudge. Marshmallow. White grapes. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Honeycomb. Beef slices. Slightly numbing alcohol. Fudge. Water adds glacier cherries in brandy. Milky hot chocolate. Marshmallow. Nutella.

Conclusion: Ok, I am very taken with this. Especially when you try it with water. Neat it has just a touch of alcohol fire, a touch that is numbed by water and turns it into something wonderfully chewy, But I get ahead of myself. Again.

Anyway, on the nose it is a mix of sweet highland notes, peat smoke and a hint of the imperial stout influence with a milky coffee touch. It is a nice, smooth mix with that wisp of smoke to entice you in for something a bit more daring. Oddly, here there is also a salty touch I would not expect from a Highland, calling more to the Islands – though that note does disappear with water.

The body starts to open up that barrel ageing influence, especially with water. It works the same sweet but peat touched base with lots of honey and vanilla fudge notes meets smoke – however the barrel rises it to sweet red grapes and dessert wine, and sinks it down into chocolate liqueur. Again water really brings these two poles out. Instead of that harsh touch it has neat, it becomes a smokey, chocolate liqueur dusted sherry trifle thing with water.

It needed the water to smooth and ease out the fire, but now it is relaxing, rewarding and complex. There is a bready, kind of netella covered brown toast middle that is a wonderful balance of sweet and savoury, that then leads out into a similarly mixed sweet, spice, smoked and grounded finish.

Uses peat without feeling the need to aim for Islay. Uses barrel ageing while still showing impressive work from the base spirit. Smooth but chewy. Very much recommended.

Background: So, Cu Bocan is a decent wee dram, a lightly peated take on Tomatin and now they are getting a bit wild with this! This is has been aged in imperial stout casks from Black Isle Brewery and Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal wine casks. I know only a few of the words to do with wine, but all of the ones to do with imperial stout and that had me pretty excited here. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had no specific music on during drinking this, just shoved my tunes on random and waited to see what came up.

Green Spot: Chateau Leoville Barton (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep, rich, slightly reddened gold. Fast and thick streaks comes from the spirit.

Nose: Brandy cream. Toffee. Noticeable alcohol. Peppermint cream. Shortbread. Pencil shavings. Light sulphur. Water lightens giving gentle toffee and white grapes.

Body: Honey. Fudge. Red berries. Alcohol air. Brandy cream. Toffee. Slightly spicy. Water makes smoother. Slight sulphur. Sherry trifle. Spicy red wine. Green grapes. Cake sponge.

Finish: Red cherries. Fudge. Slight alcohol air. Warming spice. Water makes smoother. Sherry trifle. Spicy red wine.

Conclusion:This is a lovely dram. It takes the already impressive, easy drinking, Green Spot and polishes it up with extra notes from the time in Bordeaux wine casks to give it a depth that makes it the whiskey it always had the potential to be.

With the standard Green Spot I had wondered if a few points extra abv would help it out, or would hurt it. With this being a tidy 6% abv stronger we fine out that the answer is help. Definitely help. Now, oddly, I recommend adding a touch of water to open the whiskey up – but only a small amount so it is probably still above the 40%. Taken like this is has extra grip and flavour but loses the small but noticeable alcohol touch it has neat.

Anyway, as indicated, neat this is slightly – just slightly – alcohol touched. However there are nice red fruit notes and sweet fudge backing. It is slightly sulphurous which was unexpected. Probably something from the wine barrel finish, along with the slight spicy notes. Here it is good but not exceptional.

Water really opens it up, bringing more to both the sweetness and the red wine character, revealing depth in both while soothing the alcohol. Sweeter trifle notes meet spicier wine notes, and if you are light with the water touch it is still slightly thicker than standard Green Spot with cake sponge weight and that sulphur giving a slightly darker, heavier feel while not making this smooth whiskey harder to drink.

Not the super easy sipping Irish, but still easy going and now so rewarding and with room for a lot more play and examination. A very impressive whiskey that balances character with ease of drinking.

Very highly recommended.

Background: Soo, first and most relevant to these notes. Boris Johnson is a piece of shit. In so many ways. So very many ways. Anyway, super relevant. So, I generally enjoyed my experiences with Green Spot – but at the BrizDram meet up a few years ago I got to try one of the unusual barrel aged versions and it blew my mind. So when I got the chance to try this Bordeaux wine cask finished version at Independent Spirit I grabbed it. It comes with a little leaflet detailing the history of Chateau Leoville Barton Wine. Apparently it is super good. I have never tried it. If anyone wants to donate any to me for research purposes I will happily drink it. Before the wine cask finish this was aged in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. Not sure of age statement – regular green spot is ten year according to some sources – or a mix of seven to ten according to others, and googling says this spent 18 months in the finish barrel – I presume on top of standard ageing. Soooo 8 years? 11 year? Ish? No idea. Anyway, went with The Eels: End Times for music while drinking. This was before finding out the election results so the appropriateness is completely coincidental.

Daftmill: Summer Batch 2008 (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold. Fast, medium thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Light. Limes. Sugar dusting to honey. Light menthol. Vanilla toffee. Light oak. Water adds light peppermint.

Body: Very smooth. Sugared orange. Vanilla custard. Creamy lime. Fudge. Smooth caramel. Shortbread. Water makes creamier and adds more toffee.

Finish: Sugar dusting. Pencil shavings. Vanilla fudge. Cake sponge. Water adds choc toffee and white chocolate.

Conclusion: I’ve mentioned before that I am not the hugest fan of lowland whisky. It is ok, and I have run into some good expressions, but it is not usually my first pick. Therefore this is a bit of a shock in that it is bloody lovely. So lovely that, after missing doing notes on it once, I hunted it out to try again and this time bring my notebook!

It is super smooth – the alcohol gently coming along with a bit of a menthol air, but generally it has that Irish influenced (I presume) triple distilled smooth character. What makes it different is that it has a good level of vanilla toffee and fudge sweet grip that makes it that tiny smidge thicker than a normal lowland.

It shows remarkable subtlety , with orange and lime soft fruit notes, and a bit more caramel grip that pops up at a few moments, again giving it just that touch more grip and thickness, all dusted down with a light sugar touch.

I can see why, even past its rarity, this is so prized. It isn’t auction flipper prices level good, but for standard prices it is an amazing lowland. Water brings out even more, with a heavier chocolate notes. Well I say heavier, it is still super smooth, but just again a touch heavier that the sugar dust front and vanilla touch thicker backing it has neat.

Unfortunately it seems the lowland I find I can whole heartedly recommend is the one that is hardest to find. Darn it! Smooth, just touch of sweet weight, graceful subtlety. Amazingly easy to drink, but so rewarding. I love it.

Background: So … people who follow my twitter (both of you) may remember I put up a post saying I had not done notes on this. So may be wondering how come these notes are here. I first ran into this at an Uber whisky tasting where I had not brought my notebook as I was just chilling that night. It was amazing. I then found out that The Hideout had a bottle of it in. So I had to run over to do full notes on it. See. Easy. Until the uber whisky tasting I had not even heard of this distillery – it is a comparatively new one, and does an absolutely miniscule output each year. Web sites crash as people try to get hold of bottles, so I am spoiled to have had multiple chances to try it. This was bottled 2019, from being distilled 2008. Not much else to add. The Hideout is awesome.

Ardbeg: Drum (Standard Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale, slightly darkened grain colour. A mix of fast thick streaks, and then slower streaks follow up from the spirit.

Nose: Pineapple. Brine. Salty rocks. Dry smoke. Quite strong alcohol. Fish skins. Moss. Brown bread. Burnt sugar. Water adds sea breeze. Smoother but still present alcohol.

Body: Slightly medicinal. Dry smoke. Subtle banana liqueur. Cherries and sultanas. Dry sherry trifle. Banana bread. Slightly waxy. Warming spice. Water adds clearer banana and waxy banana leaves. Clearer dark fruit. Turmeric and lightly earthy notes. Slight apple.

Finish: Smoke. Dried beef slices. Malt chocolate. Slight spices. Dry sherry. Raisins. Subtle dried banana. Waxy sheen. Water adds spicy rum and light peppery character.

Conclusion: Ok, so I loved the committee release version of this. How does this, more restrained abv, release compare? Well, obviously it is different – I’ll get to that in a mo – but, short answer – I still love it.

So, the lower abv seems to have reduced some of the sweetness that characterised the cask strength version. This is a cleaner, drier take with more of the Islay medicinal and salt showing through. The banana notes are still there, though more subtle. Instead it has room to show more raisins, spicy rum and similar darker notes playing in the drier body.

It’s got a lot less room for water to play with, as you might expect from the lower abv. A few drops open the whisky up, but any more than that seems to dampen the whole experience. Still worth a few drops though, as you get much more banana, rum and some of that waxy feel back with it.

I prefer the committee release – it has a lot more room and range, but I will admit here it is more recognisably Ardbeg, and less dessert touched, so will play better to those who want a more pure Islay experience.

Still great, a different take on the Drum, more for Ardbeg purists. Not quite as good in my opinion, but still great and highly recommended.

Background: Ok, this may or may not be cheating. I did notes on the cask strength Committee Release version of this that I tried at an Uber Whisky Tasting Night. I liked it so much, that when I got a chance to try this, easier to get, normal abv release of the whisky, I did so without hesitation. So now I am doing notes on it. It is a different abv, it counts as a different whisky honest. I am not just indulging myself. Honest. Anyway, again this is Ardbeg that has been finished in Caribbean rum casks. Very nice. Grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

Gordon and MacPhail: Glen Mhor: 8 Year 100% Proof (Scotland Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Very dark bronzed gold. Fast, medium thickness streaks come from the spirit. Some visible sediment.

Nose: Thick. Strong alcohol aroma. Golden syrup to honey. Stewed apricot. Light menthol. Brown bread. Malt drinks. Nutty. Water makes smoother.

Body: Honey. Warming. Thick. Golden syrup. Ovaltine. Treacle. Fatty notes. Water adds dry sherry. Vanilla. Tannins. Toffee. Cherry notes very occasionally.

Finish: Honey. Brown bread. Malt drinks. Ovaltine. Treacle. Water adds massive dry sherry. Sultanas. More alcoholic air for a while. Tannins. Nutty. Lime touch.

Conclusion: OK, damn, I don’t think I have actually seen whisky with sediment like this in it before. It is part of a whole, well, old look to the thing. Sediment, dusty glass bottle – it has only spent 8 years in the oak, but looks every inch of the years it has spent out of it.

Still despite that it shows its …ahem …youth when you actually get into the whisky itself. Strong alcohol character when taken neat. A thick and syrupy style that pushes sweet but robust notes – emphasising thick flavours like honey, treacle and golden syrup.

I tried this both with and without sediment in the glass – if you keep the sediment in it adds more fatty character, vanilla notes and a thick mouthfeel. I decided not to put these in the main notes, but felt they were still worth pointing out in case people wanted to know if they should try with or without.

As a whisky it is bloody robust, even with water it is thick, clinging and strong. You can, thankfully, tone the alcohol down with water though. However it is still fatty, thick with a malt drink to nutty comparatively neutral backing against a solidly sweet, but dry and not sickly base.

It is a pretty simple whisky – seriously – I think it would be one that is best as part of a blended malt whisky, rather than as the whole thing as a single malt. It doesn’t give enough that I would list it as a must try, especially considering its cost these days. So, yeah this is a young expression, so maybe aged up the distillery gains its legs – however even young its distinctive punch and thick character would be a godsend to many a blended malt.

Ok as is, simple, not worth the cost it goes for these days, but feels like a vital component for a blender.

Background: Ohh, another distillery I have not tried before. For good reason on this one, it is another dead distillery so can get a bit costly. So I was intrigued when I found “Hard To Find Whisky” online and saw they had some minis of comparatively young spirit going for not too silly price. Was a tad wary, as I know old and rare whisky can be a scammers market, but they seemed to have a good reputation online so I gave them a try. Both minis I got where a bit below full fills, which I’m guessing is due to the screw caps not quite sealing it so losing some to evaporation over the years. Also noticed some sediment (as mentioned in the notes), which I did not expect – a quick google suggested this is common for heavily sherried whisky that has spent a long time in the bottle, which reassured me and seemed a reasonable sign that this was not just Bells in an old bottle. I did pour carefully from one glass to another, leaving some spirit with the sediment in the first glass so I could try with and without sediment. Went with Jack Off Jill – Sexless Demons and Scars for music. Still genuinely gutted I missed a chance to see them live when they did a one off reunion tour a few years back.

Game Of Throne: House Lannister: Lagavulin: 9 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 9 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Medium darkened gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Smoked fish skins. Peaty. Smoked beef. Lightly medicinal and salty. Dried beef slices. Slight brown sugar. Brown bread. Slight golden syrup. Similar with water.

Body: Smooth and warming. Slight charring. Brown bread. Salt. Dried beef slices. Alcohol is more present if held. Chocolate. Cherries. Water makes more bready. Some white and red grapes.

Finish: Chocolate. Slightly dry. Soot. Dust-balls. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Lightly medicinal. Light sherry touch. Water adds slight sulphur and malt drinks. Slight peanut butter.

Conclusion: Man this is good. Though, as is nigh always true these days, I am glad I gave it a few weeks to air after opening before doing notes. The first few drams I had of it were good but very much sub the quality expected from a Lagavulin compared to the standard 16 year expression. Now, this still doesn’t reach the heights of that night perfect dram, but now definitely earning its place in the line up.

It has the dried meat, slight smoky, lightly medicinal Lagavulin character and is fairly smoothly delivered despite the traditional 46% abv alcohol bump.

What makes it stand out on its own, rather than as a lesser imitation of the 16 is the slight bit more presence from the sweeter notes. There’s sweet cherry, brown sugar and even some chocolate notes which was very unexpected for an Islay. It is only slightly sweeter but that gives more contrast and a slightly easier going style despite all the Islay notes. In some ways it feels close to the Distillers edition in that use of sweetness, if not quite as awesome.

Water smooths it even more, but also generally mutes things a bit, so I would recommend taking this one neat. Still, generally very nice – the only thing that keeps it from being up there with the best is a slightly more neutral, malt drink like middle that doesn’t express itself as well as either the peatier or the smokier notes. Later on, with water, there was even a mild peanut butter like note which wasn’t horrible, but similarly did not quite work.

Still a bloody good whisky, and the sweeter side of Lagavulin.

Background: So, Game of Thrones is still stupidly popular right? Nothing happened in the final season to put people off. This tasting notes is still relevant and hip right? Anyway, totally had to grab this one – Lagavulin is probably my favourite distillery, so a nine year expression of it, brand new for the GOT line, definitely caught my eye. Not terribly priced either all things considered. I put off opening it for a while as I had a few Islay bottles already open, but finally its time has come! Went back to New Model Army – The Ghost Of Cain for music for this, my music taste continues towards the more political again in these strange times. Yet another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Port Askiag 28 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 28 Years: 45.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Slow thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Subtle smoke. Subtle Iodine and salt. Soft lemon. Slight sharp lime. Mossy. Water adds a touch more salt.

Body: Smooth. Lime. Lightly medicinal. Soft orange. Slight kiwi. Slight beef slices. Water makes more buttery and adds orange peel.

Finish: Soft lime. Soft moss. Salted rocks. Light smoke. Dried beef. Water adds orange peel, butterscotch and more salt.

Conclusion: This is nothing like what you would expect from a Laphroaig, which is what this is rumoured to be and so is how I am treating it. It is so gentle, smooth , wearing a light medicinal character but very gentle. This softness allows out smooth and light citrus flavours that you would normally never see as they would be hidden by the peat and harsher edges.

It you want peat, heavy medicinal and kicking character, avoid this and go for something younger. This is smooth, wearing hints of what comes in younger Islay, but gentle as a I newborn lamb (note: I have never met a newborn lamb, for all I know they are vicious shits. I am going by their reputation).

So, this is an experience. A good one at that. I am so glad I got to try it, it is very, very good. Softly buttery, soft citrus and is the most gentle an Islay can be while still being recognisable. It even lets loose just a wisp of smoke, a grain of salt and a tiny dab of medicinal spirit, just to make sure you know it is an Islay.

Despite that quality I kind of find it hard to recommend in general. The smoothness is an utter treat to have here, but for general drinking I would want something more forceful and more showing the character I come to an Islay for. You are paying a lot to get everything smoothed down, and it goes down a treat, but if you want something this smooth and light, I’d say go for a whiskey designed that way in the first place.

That is for considering buying a bottle, if you get a chance to try a dram, this is totally worth trying – not just fascinating in seeing how Islay ages, but delicious as well – but it is one where I feel a full bottle would be wasted on me. So unless you are very rich and can take the hit easily I would say don’t grab a full bottle.

It is interesting in that I love it, but unlike say the Arbeg XOP, it is not a love that needs to be repeated at every chance you get.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Normally Port Askaig is bottled from Caol Ila, but rumour says this is a Laphroaig, which if so is very interesting. You very rarely see old Laphroaigs, mainly as they are very peaty and medicinal and that vanishes quickly with age. Any which way this should be a fascinating one.

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