‘Spirit of Islay II’ 10yo Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky

The Penultimate bottling of my little collection of Cask Purchases……

This was the last cask purchased in 2008 from a certain Islay Distillery , It was a bit of an impulse purchase at the time as the distillery had just about stopped selling casks at this point and i was on Holiday on the isle at the time they came up for sale , it was also one of my last purchases from this distillery as not long after the then MD of the company decided he didn’t like one of my reviews on the original SOI site of a release i was disappointed in and sent me an email to tell me so , being at that time a very good customer (i.e. spending lots of money there ) i decided to take my money elsewhere…..

Anyway , Purchasing the Fresh Bourbon Barrel #1726 of Lightly Peated Spirit for £1100 in bond , 10 shares of £110 were sold to friends on the SOI forum . in the 10 years a couple of shares changed hands but most of the original purchasers remained .

The Cask was warehoused on Islay but was moved to Whiskybrokers Creetown Site with the Original SOI Cask in February 2017 after discovering that the distillery wouldn’t ship to separate shareholders but only to one address . The cask was bottled by the Good folk of Whiskybroker on the 30th July 2018 (that just happened to be our 24th Wedding Anniversary…..) at 63.9% with an outturn of 224 Bottles (22 bottles each with the spare 4 being sent to 4 lucky shareholders via a lucky dip !) . 

The design wasn’t the original , it did have the distillery name on in large letters but i was informed by the bottler that unless i had permission (which i didn’t….) i couldn’t put it on as they are a bit touchy about their name on Indy bottlings so as not to cause bother for the Bottler i put ‘Spirit of Islay II’ Prominently and reduced the size of the ‘Distilled at…..’ .

(Click on Images to See full Size)

The Costs for this Bottling……

The Original Purchase of shares.   ……………………………………………….£110

Transportation of Cask from Islay……………………………………………… £17.68

1 Years Warehousing at Creetown….……………………………………………£17.19

Final Warehousing in Creetown ………………………………………………  …£1.05

Bottling costs ………………………………………………………………….  £67.32

Duty and VAT…………………………………………………………………. £346.17

VAT on original purchase of Cask………………………..……………………..£22.00

Total………………………………………………………………………….. £581.41

So the cost per bottle is (total divided by 22)……………..………………… £26.43

So How does it taste…….

Colour – Bright Golden Syrup

Nose – At Full Strength , lots of the Distilleries lightly peated characteristics , very fresh and fruity , Apples , pears , exotic fruits , slightly Honeyed , wood spices and sea air . Reduced , Water brings toffee to the front , still fruity fresh .

Palate – Without Water , quite strong on the palate , lots of Fruit and butterscotch toffee , quite spicy , very drinkable at 63.9% ! With Water ,  It can take quite a bit of water , still very fruity and butterscotchy .

Finish – Long , Chewy , lots of spices and pepper  . Water reduces the chewiness but still has the spices and pepper with a nice toffeeness added .

Comment – Another cask i’m really happy with (i’ve definitely been very lucky with the casks…..) , it reminds me of the class of Spirit from when this distillery first reopened , but…. i still prefer the PC Spirit !

The full Islay ! Not a bad wee tasting !

Many thanks to all at Whiskybroker  for their help with this bottling , Debbie you are a star !

Just the Longmorn to go……..

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Spirit of Islay Port Charlotte 15yo

This is the 3rd and final Port Charlotte Cask I’ve been involved with , this one was purchased by members of the Long Gone ‘Spirit of Islay’ Yahoo Club / Group . This cask was a Refill Sherry Hogshead filled and purchased in 2002 , Cask No.1161 is cost £1050 , originally 20 shares were issued at £105 but one shareholder holding 2 shares has since vanished….

Originally warehoused at Bruichladdich , the cask was moved to Whiskybrokers site in Creetown to make it easier for bottling just over a year ago , Bruichladdich would only send the bottles to one delivery address . At one point in it’s life I thought it was going to have to be reracked as it’s maturation wasn’t progressing but it seemed to spring into life .

The cask was bottled on the 1st of May 2018 at 60.2% abv , we got 254 75cl bottles out of it , each share receives 14 bottles .(it was bottled in 75cl’s because a third of it was been sent to the USA ) .

(click on Images to see full size)

The Costs for this Bottling……

The Original Purchase of shares.   ……………………………………………….£105

Extra warehousing at Bruichladdich) ……………………..……………………..£5.72

Transportation of Cask from Islay……………………………………………… £17.68

1 Years Warehousing at Creetown….……………………………………………£17.19

Final Warehousing in Creetown ………………………………………………  …£0.58

Bottling costs ………………………………………………………………….  £92.32

Duty and VAT…………………………………………………………………. £443.28

VAT on original purchase of Cask………………………..……………………..£23.48

Total………………………………………………………………………….. £705.25

So the cost per bottle is (total divided by 28)……………..………………… £25.19

So how does it Taste ?

Colour – Amber

Nose – Smoke loads of it , a very subtle sherriness , cream toffee , the nose isn’t over-powering given it’s strength .

Palate – Wow ! a lovely peatiness perfectly balanced with the sherry , Again no clue to it’s strength , the old cola cubes are there (good sign of a classy sherry to me ) , a slight touch of christmas cake , Peppermint / Menthol appears after a little while . 

Finish – Long , Chewy , good hit of sherry and peat .

Comment – I’m really really happy with this , Martin said the cask was well and truly gone when they’d emptied it , well the spirit seems to have gotten the best out of it and it has ended up perfectly balanced . Nice Sherriness mixing with the peat . I think i may be getting sworn at again by Serge…… 

 

The Trio of Port Charlottes

5 Down , 2 to go…..

 

Animal Magic

Once again i’ve been seriously neglecting this blog ! Since my last posting we’ve been doing a lot of walking up The Northumbrian Coast , joined the RSPB , joined the Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN) but given up our membership of the National Trust . 

The main reason for joining the NHSN was to gain access to the Gosforth Park Nature Reserve as it’s not open to the general public apart from when they hold an open day .

During the recent bad weather we’ve had quite a few different visitors to out Back Garden Feeders , including some Reed Buntings and a Yellowhammer……

(Click on the Photos to see full size) 

One bird we weren’t expecting was a Female Sparrowhawk ! Obviously attracted by the possibility of a feed itself……

We’ve also been attracting quite a few Goldfinches…..

Last Weekend , on Easter Sunday , we went to the Gosforth Park Nature Reserve for the first time , this is one bit of Gosforth Park i’d never seen before , i grew up playing in the Park itself and i have to say it is an amazing little nature reserve . It consists of a shallow lake, extensive reed beds and mixed woodland backing on to the back of the Race Course , there are a few Hides to relax in and watch the wildlife . On the lake there was a good mixture of Waterfowl……

Greylag Geese

Little Grebe

Tufted Duck

On our wanders we came across a trio of Roe Deer , one of which appeared to be expecting……

At the Hide near the entrance they had a rather large feeding station which had the usual suspects…..

My Favourite of the Day !

We’re already looking forward to our return , Hopefully we’ll be able to get photos of the Kingfisher and Long-tailed Tit the next time !

We’ve also being paying visits to the Northumberland Wildlife Trusts Hides at The Big Waters Nature Reserve ……

More Photos are available on my Flickr Page HERE

Through the Kitchen Window……

After the enjoyment of watching the Bird table and feeding stations on our recent holiday in Yorkshire , we decided to invest in a feeding station for the back garden . Now we know we’ll probably never get a Woodpecker at ours , we did know that the garden does have resident Blackbirds and Robins as well as regular visits from Magpies  , Doves and Crows .

So the feeding station was set up directly infront of the Kitchen window and from time to time i recorded what appeared…….

One of the Resident Robins

Finches

We have had a few Finches , A Goldfinch which i haven’t been able to capture yet .

A Greenfinch Which is also playing hard to get !

A Young Female Chaffinch

(We’ve also had Males)

Tits

Loads of them ! Especially Blues…….

Blue Tit

Coal Tit

And lastly we’ve had lots of Spuggies !

House Sparrow

A Grand Day Out

Suffering from North Yorkshire Moors withdrawl symptoms , we decided to head down to the Railway for a day out , the weather looked (and was ) a bit mixed but we never let a bit rain dampen our day…… We got down to Pickering in plenty of time for the 12pm train to Whitby . We took the road via Castleton and Hutton to travel to Pickering rather than the A171 / A169 , wilder and definitely more beautiful ! After a Sausage Butty in the Station Cafe we awaited arrival of our train , just as it did the heavens opened up……

(Click on photos to see Full Size)

Our train today was the Black 5 45212 , Actually made on Tyneside at the old Armstrong Whitworth Factory at the end of 1935 . 

As always a Steam train arriving is always a majestic sight , even in a heavy downpour…..

The train was actually quite busy esapecially for the week after the school holidays had ended , So off we went up the moors to Whitby , the weather actually cleared for the rest of the day once we reached Goathland where we passed the other ‘Black 5’ on the line working the Afternnon Pullman….

We also got to take the obligatory ‘Train Selfie’

On returning to Pickering we headed off to Levisham to pass a bit of time before going off for something to eat and managed to catch the same Locomotive on it’s las run back up to Grosmont .

After a lovely meal at the Fox and Rabbit in Lockton we headed back home……

 

Bakethin Reservoir and Reserve

We decided to head a little further out for this weeks walk , into wildest Northumberland , to the north end of Kielder Water . It’s a cracking drive up there , going through several different scapes , woodland and moorland before arriving at The Water and Forest .

You have to drive the entire length of Kielder to get to Bakethin (if arriving from the South like us ) , it is just a short distance South from Kielder Village itself . We decided to split the walk into two either side of a late lunch….

The Morning Walk…..

(Click on any Photos to see fullsize)

This walk was basically a 3 mile circular on the Northshore of the Reservoir , using the North Lakeside Way to head south and the forestry track to head back north , One word of warning though on the Lakeside Way , it is also used by Cyclists and they don’t appear to fit bells to bikes anymore….. and they seem to think they have the right of way……

As an added bonus for us Railway enthusiasts the Lakeside way partly follows the route of the old Border Counties Railway – The North British Railways route which ran from Riccarton Junction through to Hexham – more of this later….

You get some spectacular views across Bakethin Reservoir and Kielder Water on this walk…..

Looking south toward Bakethin Weir

We noticed a couple of horses grazing the grassland on the north shore , they are Exmoor ponies that have been brought in on a project to keep the shrubs and trees down so that the natural grasses and wild plants can flourish…..

One thing we did notice on this walk (as on other recent walks ) there were a hell of a lot of Butterflys about ! Can’t figure out why people keep saying they are struggling…..

A Red Admiral and a Painted Lady Butterfly

It was a very nice walk on a lovely warm late summers day , it gave us a good appetite for lunch , so we jumped in the car and headed up to Kielder Village to go to the local pub . The Anglers Arms isn’t the prettiest but we have to say that it does some damn good grub , the staff are superb and it serves a decent pint of Ale . Melanie went for the Balti Curry which came with Rice , Naan bread and a couple of Pickles and i went for possibly one of the best Ploughmans Lunch i’ve ever had ,

The Afternoon Walk…..

Returning to the Car Park we proceeded on the Afternoon walk , this one was on the South Shore , Straight after leaving the Car park you hit a tree lined embankment which was part of the aforementioned Border Counties Railway route , this leads to a stunning Skew Arch Viaduct which carried the railway across the Kielder Burn .

You get a great view across the reservoir from the top…..

We headed back down the Embankment but you can walk across the viaduct to meet up with the North Lakeside Way , we then followed the path down the side of the embankment to go under the Viaduct .

The Viaduct looks great from underneath showing the Skew Arches up a treat…….

There is also a plaque explaning a wee bit of it’s history….. 

There was also a friendly little Robin buzzing about under the Viaduct……

We returned for a little while on the same path coming across a small pond inhabited by a lone Gadwall Duck…..

We then headed down a trail to the recently opened hide by the side of the Reservoir (designed and built by Students from Newcastle University apparently , very nice it is too !) , There were a few Little Grebes fishing in the pond and a few Cormorants resting on branches….

There were a few more resting in adjacent trees and occasionally flying about….

The one local resident we didn’t see was the Famous Ospreys but they have started to fly off to warmer , foreign Climes . So maybe next year……

We had a thoroughly enjoyable day and will return later in the year to see the over-wintering visitors !

Natural Northumberland

After the wonderful Holiday we had in North Yorkshire , it was back to doing walks closer to home . As you know from earlier posts we like to combine a nice walk with some Wildlife spotting , as the National Trust places we frequent have been getting increasingly busy we decided to try somewhere different . The Northumberland Wildlife Trust had recently reopened the Hauxley Reserve with a new Visitor Centre so we decided to take a drive up and have a look around .

There’s an old saying that you never really appreciate what’s on your doorstep and i have to say up until a few years ago we could say that about Northumberland ! We have (IMHO) the best coastline in the country , Stunning doesn’t describe it , so it was of no surprise that Hauxley is in a beautiful Setting .

Hauxley 

Situated just south of Amble , this nature Reserve was part of the Radcliffe Open Cast Mine . 

After a bite to eat in the VC (very reasonably priced i have to say ) we set off for a walk around the reserve and visits to the numerous hides to enjoy the wildlife .

(There are a load more photos available at my Flickr site HERE )

(Click on the photos to see fullsize)

One of the numerous Butterflies we seen , a Red Admiral , but we also encountered Speckled Woods , Commas and Peacocks .

A Redshank .

A Grey Heron in Flight.

Other birds  spotted included Greylag Geese , Canada Geese , Little Grebes and various Gulls and ducks . Walking back to the VC we had a Stoat and a Vole run across our path , on the way out we had a chat to a couple of the Wardens and were informed there were Red squirrels around , including a famous ‘Swimming‘ one ! We had a great day at Hauxley and were so impressed by the facilities that when we got home we joined the Northumaberland Wildlife Trust on line !

Hauxley Album on Flickr

After seeing how many reserves they have (62) we decided the next day to visit another one , so we headed off to another place i’d never been to , Cresswell .

Cresswell Pond

This a a large Brackish Lagoon (Salt and Fresh Water mixed together) formed by Subsidence of former mine workings ( a Fairly common thing in South East Northumberland ! ) , Just North of the Beautiful Cresswell Village , this has one has one Hide next to the local farm .

There were plenty of Lapwings here .

We also seen our first Little Egrets.

On the way in we’d seen a Barn Owl flying about and spotted legal warning notices about it , little did we know what a display we were going to get on the way out !

Another great afternoon , on the way back we called in at another place i’d never been to (see what i mean by  not appreciating….) for a coffee , Newbiggin by the Sea . The front is really beautiful now it has been renovated .

Cresswell Pond Album on Flickr

Owl Album on Flickr

So after receiving our members pack and studying the Reserve map , this weekend we decided to try another Reserve on the Saturday……

East Chevington

A fairly new reserve (2003) that was a site of another former Open Cast Mine , still developing .  Right next to the coast , the Reserve has a lot of surrounding Farmland with a few of our favourite Coos on it…….

There are a few hides around the 2 ponds  to look at the various birds .

Greylag goose Greylags .

Cormorants and Lapwings….

After a walk around the Reserve we made our way back to the car via the beach .

East Chevington Beach at Duridge Country Park .

East Chevington Album on Flickr

Not content with a glorious afternoon walk on the coast , we decided to have an Evening walk over to our ‘Local’ Reserve , the Big Waters .

The Big Waters

The Big Waters is the largest subsidence pond in the region, formed by the collapse of deep mine workings , it also has a Medieval ridge and furrow grassland next to it . The Reserve also has two Members Only Hides to the west of it (you have to purchase the key for it but it can also be used at Holywell Pond ) . These have to be the most plushest Hides i’ve ever been in , no wonder they are locked up ! We’ve been over to The Big Waters numerous times but these hides give you a fantastic view of the bird life .

It was a wonderful way to spen a beautiful Summers Evening !

Big Waters Album on Flickr

Hauxley Revisited

On the Bank Holiday Sunday we decided to revisit Hauxley , on arrival we set off down to the beach…..

Again another superb beach with fantastic view over to Coquet Island and deserted ! There were plenty of wading birds down on the shoreline……


Ringed Plovers , Ruff and Redshank .

Another Red Admiral

A Ruff and A Redshank

A Curlew

A Little Grebe and a Greylag Goose While at the last hide we spotted a struggle between a Cormorant and it’s lunch , David Attenborough would have had a field day with this ! After several attempts it finally got it down .

The full struggle is available in the Slippery Customer Flickr Album (50 Photos)

A Cormorant in Flight

Over time we shall be visiting More NWT Reserves …….

Northumberland Wildlife Trust Website

My Fickr Album Page