Woke up to pretty dreary weather this morning , it had rained overnight and as the day went on there were more showers , we headed up to the middle of the isle to pick up more supplies at Bowmore and also visited Bruichladdich to pick up a cask sample . While a Laddie we had a chance to have a natter to Allan and Duncan . All seems well in Laddieland , both were in good spirits and looking forward to the new challenges ahead , which include larger production , provision of more warehousing and extending the bottling plant . We also got to try the current valinch (1992 calvados ace) and the recent 2006 local barley . The valinch was very nice , added a little something different to the Laddie spirit , The Local barley i thought was still a tad too young on both the nose and palate for my liking , will be interesting to see what it’s like at 10/12yo+ .
We spent most of the afternoon visiting an old friend in…… hospital ! Mary from Bruichladdich had a slight accident the previous Sunday or as she put it , i decided to take a summer break ! She was hanging out the washing (HSE please note how much more dangerous domestic chores are to a building site !) when she slipped and fell on some steps , causing 5 breaks at the ankle , she doesn’t do things by half our Mary ! After a flight out and back to Paisley Hospital in an Air Ambulance she is in Islays Hospital for a few days before taking up residency in Port Charlotte for a short while . She was in very good spirits as well as a cast right up to her thigh ! We had a good laugh especially when she said there were two Tom Cruise lookalikes as pilots to the aircraft and there was me looking a right mess ! After saying our farewells (we’ll be catching up again later) , we went and got the rest of our supplies and headed back to the cottage for some lovely Islay Steaks , a relaxing evening and a try of the “Spirit of Islay 1 “ cask…….
Spirit of Islay 2002 Port Charlotte Refill Sherry Hogshead
Now rapidly approaching 10yo (in October) , it’s been 2 years since this cask was sampled and i wasn’t too happy about its progress at the time , so hows it fairing now ?
The colour seems to have moved on , it’s got a lovely golden colour , it’s very similar to the fresh bourbon cask we bottled recently . The nose is quite strong at full strength , Port Charlotte has a pretty unique peaty profile , not at all like the south shore giants , there’s also a slight maltiness and fruitiness to it as well as a hint of sherry (not a lot just a background hint) . The palate at full strength is definitely a lot better than what i remember 2 years ago , a peaty sweetness along with creamy fudge , coffee and chocolate . There’s also a slight hint of the sherry here too , the finish is long and malty .
With water – it seems to bring out the sherry in it and the malt (the bloodtub i had was extremely malty) , the peat is more subtle and it becomes more chewy and fudgy , my initial thoughts are it actually tastes better at reduced strength but after a while a youthfulness seems to appear , i’d still like to decide how much water i add to it and when !
It’s very drinkable now but i’d still like to see how it pans out as a teenager , i think it still needs some extra maturing .
Later on as the sun was setting (and a few drams drunk…..) started messing about with the camera after Mel lit a tea light…..
(click on photos to see full size image)
Tuesday 14th August
Expecting the worst from the weather after the media weather forecasts , we booked the Distillers Wares tour at Laphroaig for this morning , we set off to walk in lovely sunshine with a nice cooling breeze (another forecast that was spot on…..not !) , it’s a lovely walk from Maol Bhuide along to Laphroaig , about 2 ½ miles passing Ardbeg and Lagavulin on the way . We arrived in good time for the 10.30 tour in good time to find a rather busy Laphroaig visitors centre . Our tour guide this morning was Bryony , We started off in the FOL Lounge with a history of the distillery then headed off to the Floor Maltings . They weren’t doing their own malting at the moment due to a vital piece of machinery being out of use . It was then a quick look in the Kiln……
After a look at the kiln fires , it was into the usual production areas , first the mashing / washback room……
At the moment Laphroaig are producing unpeated spirit (yes we all went Unpeated ! on being told this ) and are in the process of changing from dry yeast to liquid yeast (the pipes in the photos at the bottom right are part of the new machinery for adding the liquid yeast) . Then it was off to the Stillhouse…….
Then after a quick look at the Peat store it was off to the Filling store……
All the casks here are full of Standard Laphroaig spirit , it was the last run before the last Silent season . We then headed off to the No.1 warehouse to fill our tour bottle .
On this tour you get to try 3 Laphroaig casks and pick one to fill a 250ml bottle…..
The 3 Casks !
The 3 were a 1997 15yo , a 1999 12yo and a 2003 8yo , we went for a 1997 and a 2003 , the 2003 actually tasted more mature than the 1999 .
How to do it…….
We had a great morning and Bryony was a fantastic guide , it was the first time i’d done a full tour of Laphroaig since the festival when Iain Henderson left and i won’t be leaving it so long the next time ! We headed back to the VC to purchase the current 10yo Cask Strength Batch (004 Jan 2012) and an 18yo , then it was the walk back to the cottage with a slight diversion into Ardbeg for lunch . A very nice lunch it was too , one of our all time favourite Old Kiln dishes to start with , Islay Crab chowder followed by Peking Duck in toasted wrap which was absolutely gorgeous ! It was washed down with a pint of Angus Og and a coffee by myself and a couple of glasses of wine by Mel . The Old Kiln has definitely been the most consistently good producer of fine food on Islay in all the years we’ve been going , always very tasty and always good value ! After a walk around to the distillery we headed back to the cottage to catch some rays in the back garden – the wind had gone and it was really hot by this time – and then have another relaxing evening in the cottage .