Tag Archive: Islay


Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte: OLC: 01 – 2010 (Scotland Islay Single Malt Whisky: 55.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold, with a mix of slow puckering and a few fast streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Milk chocolate. Medicinal. Hints of black forest gateaux. Pencil shavings. Dry peat smoke. Menthol to mint. Peppercorns. Gin. Water adds so much more peat smoke. Dry white wine. Spiced cherries. Moss.

Body: Strong alcohol. Chocolate cake. Dry peat. Tart green and red grapes. Water adds sweet red grapes and spicy red grapes. Paprika. Black cherry. Tons of peat. More water adds hints of raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Strawberry crème.

Finish: Dry. Dried beef slices. Smoke. Bitter cocoa. Water adds more beef to well done beef steak character. Sweet chilli. Caramel. Strawberry yogurt touch. Peppercorns.

Conclusion: So, cards on the table, this is amazing. Ok, now with that said, let’s be harsh about this whisky first.

Deep breath. While this is good neat, unsurprisingly at over 50% abv, it is a tad burning. It means that neat it is predominantly a more medicinal, harsh and dry peat kind of thing. Punchy, but not showing any more than hints of the range that you would expect this to have based on its oak journey.

Yes, that mild criticism was me trying to be harsh to this. Did I mention I adore it?

A little water smooths it out, which somehow makes the peat much bigger, more booming and less dry. Hey, as a peat fan I am not complaining. It also managed to let a lot of the subtleties from the varied ageing come out to play, and this is where things get fun.

The chocolate, almost black-forest gateaux like, character hinted at when it was neat, now is rich, dark backing for the peat. The medicinal character from the alcohol is gone, leaving a still quite dry body but now giving a real mix of sweet cake, heavy peat and smoke and dried meat that is gorgeous.

It is dark, heavy, peaty but no longer harsh. It shows its Islay character but in far smoother ways than, say, Ardbeg or Laphroaig would do, but without compromising on the smokey character.

If you add more water then it breaks the dry character, making for an oily sheen and a mossy, Island style wet rocks character. During this time more and more grapes both red and white, sour, sweet and spiced all come out. So much now showing from its many barrel ageing influence.

So, peat laden, dark and heavy, but everything else can be from sweet gateaux or wine styled to moss and oily depending on the level of water play. Though at each level the other elements are hinted at, and giving fainter backing notes. There is so much to examine here.

With just enough water this becomes the perfect match of dessert and Islay, with so many other takes available with other amounts of water.

Come get it.

Background: Been meaning to grab a Port Charlotte bottle for a while. It is the heavily peated take on the normally unpeated Bruichladdich. Not to be confused with the very, very heavily peated take that is Octomore. I’ve tried a bunch of Port Charlotte expressions over the years, but never bought a bottle. Until now. So now I have, from the ever reliable Independent Spirit. A lot going on with this one, from the bottle it is part of the “Cask Exploration Series” and has been aged in a mix of Bourbon, Vin Doux Naturel and Syrah casks then moved for the last 18 months to oloroso casks. I cannot find what OLC means from a quick google, if you know, please let me know. Wanted big booming dark music for this, so went with Anathema: The Silent Enigma.

Lidl: Ben Bracken: 16 Year Old Islay (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 16 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronzed apricot. Fast thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Oily. Menthol. Alcohol tingle. Meat broth. Smoke. Mossy. Wet oak. Dried apricot. Dried beef slices. Water adds more dried beef and beef stock.

Body: Warming. Fairly smooth. Oily smoke. Tar touch. Salty rocks. Light medicinal. Slightly drying. Dried beef slices. Malt chocolate. Dried apricot. Water makes smoother. Brings out caramel. Still a prickle of alcohol. Slight cucumber. Beef broth.

Finish: Wet rocks. Dry peat smoke. Malt chocolate. Medicinal. Water adds raisins to fruitcake and glacier cherries. Sweeter chocolate. Madeira cake. Rice cakes.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get this out of the way first. Everyone wants a guess at which distillery this game from. Well it is definitely not Ardbeg, or Laphroig unless they are working severely off type! Probably not Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain or Kilchoman from the flavour. Best I know Ardnahoe doesn’t have any of anywhere near this age yet.

So, this has some Lagavulin like notes – the meaty broth like notes and decent peat, but it is not as polished or weighty as I would expect from them. With the tarry notes and general style, I would guess this is a high quality Caol Ila of more years than I normally encounter from them.

Though I could be wrong. It is just a guess. Anyway, less worrying about where it is from, more worrying about what it is like!

It is the heavier end of what you would expect from an Islay. Thick mouthfeel, some burning elements in the aroma when neat, but generally quite smooth despite the weight of feel. It is slightly oily and tarry, slightly medicinal and has a fair amount of dry peat smoke. Neat it can get drying overall, but still manages a general meaty character.

It has got a lot of peat in there, but not Ardbeg levels, and in general it feels smoothed out by age. That ageing means that, despite some alcohol notes, it still feels fine and weighty neat – however water does bring out just that big more dark fruit to express itself.

With water there is also some good sweetness under there as well, with chocolate and caramel hints coming out as it opens up. Generally though this is a sticky, heavy thing that emphasises the more tarry oily and peaty feel of an Islay whisky without going as full bore as the big guns of the island tend to.

So, to indulge the “Where is it from” vibe, again – this doesn’t feel as good as the Lagavulin 16, which is one of its close comparisons, especially with being the same age – it shows some similarity in the meaty, peaty character but isn’t as polished. Though since Lagavulin 16 is pretty much a desert island dram for me, that isn’t a harsh criticism, even making such a comparison bodes well for it. With the aforementioned tarry, oily, medicinal touch it would slot in nicely as a high quality aged Caol Ila, so that is what I would view it when deciding if it will be to your taste.

A very good dram, especially for the price. Not the best, if you are looking for that, but very high quality and very affordable for the age and quality.

Background: At Christmas Lidl released this special edition, a 16 year Islay from an unknown Distillery, for just under thirty five pounds. That is a good price, and reviews were positive so I decided to try and grab a bottle, but my local Lidl didn’t have any in stock. Typical, the one time I try and use the place. So, my parents came through for me, managed to grab a bottle and gave it to me as a Christmas present. Many thanks! Now, you may have realised this is a long time since Christmas – due to covid lock-down I only just finally got to meet my parents for the first time in over a year recently. So then I finally got it. Woo! Also, woo for meeting family. But, also woo whisky! I know my priorities (Sorry Mum). There has been a lot of guessing about where this could be from, but I have no additional info, so have to just guess. Music wise I went back to Akala: Knowledge Is Power: Vol 2 – pretty much the guy who got me into looking at more hip hop and it is epic.

Laphroaig: 10 Original Cask Strength – Batch 12 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 60.1% ABV)

Visual: Burnished reddened gold. Slow puckering comes from the spirit along with a few faster, thick streaks.

Nose: Camomile. Germolene (I think). Smoke. Peppery. Peat. Meat broth. Medicinal spirit. Orange zest. Charring. Some alcohol tingly. Slightly oily. Water makes clearer, and cleaner medicinal style. Dry soot. More orange zest.

Body: Warming initially, alcohol feel builds up quickly. Dried apricot. Medicinal and slightly dry. Beefy. Lots of peat. Slight malt chocolate. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Water adds honey and makes smoother. Beef broth. Orange notes. Peach.

Finish: Warming and tingling. Beef slices. Malt chocolate. Slight lime air. Numbing alcohol after a while. Cheese puff crisps. Slight caramel. Slight orange crème. Water adds cleaner orange notes and lime.

Conclusion: The first time I popped this open it was fucking intense. Possibly too intense, but still such an experience. Here, with a few weeks open under its belt, we get a much more balanced look. As always, time to air is your friend with whisky.

Neat it is still intense, though surprisingly smooth on first sip considering the abv – though the alcohol come in quickly after. It is not as numbing as you would expect but it is still numbing.

Neat it gives in exchange for the abv an even more medicinal style dram than the standard Laphroaig – not just in the dry spirit character, but even a kind of medicinal cream to medicinal bandages style aroma that I more associate with my small experience of Port Ellen.

Thee peat experience is also there, smokey and big. It is still not Ardbeg level peaty but still intense. The sweeter notes of the spirit come out more chocolatey with the bigger body, though still with vanilla backing. Similar the bigger body brings even more of the subtle citrus notes under that. Everything is bigger, and if you are fine with the alcohol weight it is 100% worth it.

Water smooths it out a lot – it is still evidently medicinal and peaty, but now with lots more sweetness. It is actually shockingly smooth all things considered and with many more fruity notes underneath including stuff I would not normally associate with Laphroaig like the subtle peach notes backing it.

Any way you take it, this is pure Laphroaig , from its most uncompromising to its most complex. I absolutely love it. Just make sure you give it some time to air before you make up your mind as first impressions are brutal!

Background: Ohh my, saw this at Independent Spirit and I wanted it instantly. Laphroaig 10 was my entry point to heavy duty Islay whisky and I still love it. Found out one of my friends in the Netherlands had actually tried this already, the lucky lucky person! Anyway, one of my mates commented that this tasted like Orange Marmite, if such a thing could exist, so that may have influenced my thoughts while tasting. I went with the live Undertale album for listening while drinking, light happy and chill, stuff I need at the mo.

Ardbeg: Blaaack: Committee 20th Anniversary (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep dark gold colour with fast, thick streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke. Wet wood. Crushed red grapes. Salt. Black and red liquorice. Medicinal touch. Slight green grapes. Pencil shavings. Salty rocks. Slight charring. Brown sugar. Water adds oily peat notes and a touch of tar.

Body: Blueberry. Salt. Wet rocks. Warming alcohol. Cake sponge. Charring. Earthy wine character. Water adds caramel. Soot. Fig rolls. More blueberry. Some subtle cherries.

Finish: Smoke. Soot. Bitter chocolate dust. Plums. Earthy. Fig rolls. Water adds dust balls. Blueberry. Charring. More bitter chocolate and a medicinal touch.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m a known Ardbeg fan, and with that taken as fact, this is still, in fact, something special.

For one it is a good quality Ardbeg – peaty, sooty, heavy, lightly medicinal and slightly dry. The Pinot Noir ageing hasn’t overwhelmed or replaced any of the distinctive Ardbeg qualities. The alcohol is present but never intrusive, even taken without water.

Neat it has an interesting look at the Pinot Noir influence. There are some red grape notes, but it has a kind of earthy wine character that reminds me of the European takes rather than the fruitier NZ Pinot Noir that they used for ageing. It adds a fruity but heavy note to the dram.

Water brings out a completely different interpretation of the wine notes. It is sweeter, with blue fruit, figs and most notably blueberry. It is subtle in how it works – the front is all Ardbeg but it has these dark fruit rounding notes that just take it to another level.

Unlike some of the committee releases – one that I still adore – this really plays to traditional Ardbeg strengths and just enhances it. A bit deeper, a bit more rounded, but not such a surprise as , say, Drum was.

If you know Ardbeg, it is that, but earthier, sweeter and slightly smoother. Utterly amazing. I could talk more, but I would probably just end up repeating myself. Flaws? Well it isn’t as good as the XOP Ardbeg 1992, but what is? And this isn’t stupid money to buy.

Are you an Ardbeg fan? If you see it, try it if you can.

Background: Another year, another Committee release, and Ardbeg have gone with something very interesting for their 20th anniversary. Pinot Noir aged Ardbeg. Now they don’t say Pinot Noir finished, so I presume at least some of the whisky is completely aged in Pinor Noir casks, but I could be wrong. Also I didn’t managed to try the cask strength version to compare like I did with Ardbeg Drum a while back. A pity, would have been cool to compare. Anyway, I love Ardbeg – Pinot Noir is one of the few wines I can recognise easily, so grabbing this from Independent Spirit was a certainty for me. Of note, the bottle is as black as its name – you have to hold it up to direct light and look carefully to be able to tell how much whisky you have left in there. A minor annoyance. Went with heavy music to back this – the hardcore punk of Gallows: Orchestra of Wolves.

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.

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.

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.

Elements Of Islay: Pi 6 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky:7 Year: 55.3% ABV)

Visual: Very light, clear gold. Slow thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sooty peat. Charred oak. Clean. Beef slices. Water makes smoother.

Body: Honey. Thick. Oily. Soot. Malt chocolate. Chilli seeds. Water adds beef slices. Ginger and more chilli seed. Buttery. Nut oils. Cleanly medicinal.

Finish: Soot. Vanilla. Nut oils. Oily. Water adds chilli seeds. More alcohol burn. Buttery. Medicinal.

Conclusion: This is a sooty, oily whisky. Initially though it comes across as sweet and honeyed on those early sips, but it quickly moves beyond that to become thing with oily, sooty thickness. Despite that it somehow manages to keep a slightly clean medicinal character as a base.

It feels very much every inch the Islay, rocking as it is the soot and the medicinal character. Admittedly it has less salty and meaty than usual, but still it weighs just enough of that to be identifiable. It is a very clean dram up front, ending up instead as a thick sooty and gritty dram on the way out.

Water brings out a bit of heat to it. With more of the high alcohol being evident, and a mix of chilli seeds and ginger warmth. It feels big and thick, mouth coating and warm.

It is good, but for the price tag it does not stand out as a special one. It is a clean and polished example of the Islay, with a bit of sooty grittiness at the end to pep it up. That works well, but doesn’t push the limits of what can be done with a good whisky.

Very nice still, slightly buttery as well, something that seems to be a trend at the uber whisky tasting tonight. If I had to pick an element that stands out it is more oily than the norm considering how clean the rest of the dram is – so if you want that oilier take on clean medicine this may catch your eye. Otherwise I would say the far cheaper Laphraog Quarter Cask is still the way to go for a good Islay drop. This is nice but not stand out

Background: 400th Whisky Tasting Note! I actually had something special set aside for no 400, but since it fell on the final entry of an Uber whisky tasting it seemed rude to not go with this one instead. Soooo … 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. Elements of Islay do slightly smaller than normal, 50cl independent bottles of Islay whisky with the faux chemical letter identifying the distillery. In this case Pi is Port Charlotte. Hey don’t ask me, I didn’t pick it. Port Charlotte is itself a heavily peated take on Bruichladdich. A quick google tells me this was aged in a mix of three bourbon barrels. Should be interesting.

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.

%d bloggers like this: