Bunnahabhain 1991 16yo Feis Ile

It’s been a while since i’ve done a whisky review (infact added anything to the Blog…..) but in the trying times i’ve decided to raid the whisky cupboard and open something special that will be appreciated by Melanie as well as myself , I’ve always had one philosophy regarding whisky you can’t take it with you when you go so you may as well drink it so you can at least have appreciated it…… No matter what it’s value is on the secondary market…….

So to the Whisky…….

 

This was bottled for the 2007 Feis Ile (you can read about it HERE ) I can’t remember the price of it but at the time it would have been very reasonable as at this point in time the Bottle Chasers hadn’t really influenced the Primary market prices . Filled on the 28th January 1991 , Cask 276 was one of 100 assorted types filled that day but was the only Spanish Sherry Hogshead amongst them and to make things even better it was an oloroso cask  . Now Sherry and Bunnahabhain are a match made in heaven (see No. 2 , 5 , 6 and 38 HERE  ) , so this one shouldn’t disappoint……

One of 190 bottles , it has an ABV of 54% and was bottled on the 1st May 2007 .

Colour – A Beautiful Amber .

Nose – At first a smooth sherry , none of this sulphur crap , then a slight hint of smoke , Christmas cake dough , a touch of sweetness and a hint of dark fruits .The sherry is the dominant factor on the nose .

Palate – A Perfect palate , smooth sherry , dark fruits (plums , raspberries , blackberries ) , The Bunnahabhain Sweetness , Cola Cubes and thankfully again none of the ‘S’ word .

Finish – A beautifully long and sherried finish , smooth , has a bit of a chew to it , an absolute Joy !

Well…… another perfect Sherried Bunnahabhain , Class in a Glass !

Islay Whisky Classics No.63 – Connoisseurs Choice 1979 Ardbeg

Connoiseurs Choice was the Gordon and Macphail label for UK releases of Single malt whisky at 40-43% , at one point (late 90’s , early to mid 00’s) there was an abundance of Ardbeg releases , you could pick up a load from the 70’s (73 , 74 , 75 , 76 , 78 , 79) .

cc79begThis particular one is a 1979 (September) bottled in 2005 (December) from refill Bourbon Barrels at 43% . it has quite a nice golden colour to it. The nose is quite relaxed ( as would be expected at 43% ) but you’ve got all the Ardbeg traits there , the Ardbeg-dine , creamy fudge , coffee , a slight hint of lemon and a touch of oak . The palate is very smooth , lots of oak spices , again Ardbeg-dine , and creamy coffee with a hint of sprinkling chocolate . The finish is medium and smooth as a babies bottom .

Not many 1979 Ardbegs about ( the 21yo Committee and another G&M branded Spirits of Scotland ones are the only that spring to mind) , the only disappointing thing about this one is the 43% bottling strength…….

Islay Whisky Classics No.62 – Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist (2008 Bottling)

The third and final release of the Airigh Nam Beist , this one at 18yo , this was somewhat of a bargain   at £45 a bottle ( yes £45 ) , what Ardbeg can you get for that price now ? And what age ? Not 18yo…. Served up at Ardbegs Standard abv of 46% .

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist

Bright Gold in Colour , the nose is really iodine at first , then it gets really complex , creamy fudge , lemon citrus , peat smoke , cocoa but we always return to the seashore iodine ( like standing on Ardbegs pier when the tides just went out and you get the seaweed smell immerging ) . The palate is truly amazing , more iodine than peaty , it’s more akin to a well aged Ardbeg than the youthful peat monster , there’s still the chocolate , creamy coffee , fudge  and sweetness but this is a step up from the peatiness of the youngsters ! The finish is long , sweet creamy fudge and chocolate topped creamy coffee !

What can you say about this dram ? it’s is totally different to the first release and my favourite of the three , didn’t like the second and only bought one bottle but this one…… Huge Smilie !

Islay Whisky Classics No.61 – Bruichladdich XVII

This 17yo didn’t go down too well with me when i first tried it , i thought it was too much like the old style Laddie which i didn’t particularly like but it grew on me rapidly . From 100% Fresh American Oak this was bottled at 46% in 2005 .

Bruichladdich XVII

Ripe barley in colour , it has the classic Laddie nose of green apples , fudge , a touch of lemon citrus and vanilla , it also has a hint of malted barley . The palate carries on from the nose with green fruits , fudge , sea air and vanilla but also includes a sweet maltiness . The finish is long with fudge , vanilla and oak spices .

A very relaxing Laddie , a superb session dram , will be interesting to see how Bruichladdichs own spirit matches up to this at the same age . 

Islay Whisky Classics No.60 – Ardbeg 1977

Ardbeg had released two previous vintages before this one , the 1975’s and the 1978’s , this was a total step in the other direction compared to them , it was released at 46% and  unchillfiltered ! Limited to an unconfirmed 2400 bottles when it was released in 2001 it shocked a few people after the lightness of the previous 75’s and 78s !

Ardbeg 1977

Bright gold in colour , the first thing you get on the nose is the Ardbeg-dine but then the nasal hairs are whacked with a great big brick of peat ! Lingering behind is a sweetness , fudge , also peat smoke and a slight oakiness . The palate is huge ! Incredibly chewy , peat soaked with a chocolate topping ! The finish is huge , loads of peat and cocoa .

Should a 24yo dram be this peaty ?  Who cares ! This is a wonderful Beg , huge and chewy in the mouth , When it was released i commented it’s amazing the difference a few extra % abv and unchillfiltered and uncoloured makes (very few malts at the time were this ) and i stick by it ! A few other producers should have taken note at the time…..

Islay Whisky Classics No.59 – Bruichladdich 1970

This is the near legendary First Edition of the Laddie Vintage range .  Vatted from 100% fresh American Oak this release went down a storm , I remember having this at the 2003 Jim McEwan Masterclass , i was sat next to the former Laddie stillman  Ruaridh McLeod (then aged 79) and at the end he turned to me and gave me his 1970 Dram and said ” here son have this , I made it me self !” Priceless ! What a character , sadly missed ! This was bottled at 44.2% in September 2002 .

 

Bruichladdich 1970

A beautiful bright honeyed gold in colour , The nose is incredibly complex , starts off with the trademark Laddie toffee sweetness , then very fruity (apples, pears ,melon ) along with orange essence and bananas . There also a slight oakiness to it , good oak not woody , The palate continues where the wonderful nose left off  , silky smooth across the mouth , again creamy toffee mingles with the green fruit and oak spiciness to give tastes that just go on and on and on…… The finish is very long , sweet and continues in the vein of the nose and palate .

 

An incredible dram , probably one of my favourite Laddies , so well balanced and thoroughly enjoyable . It is just as i remembered the first time i tried it , wonderful. Not half glad i bought a few of these……   

Islay Whisky Classics No.58 – Ardbeg Renaissance

The Renaissance was the end of the path to peaty perfection , it started in 2004 with the Very Young and went through the Still Young and the Almost there . All these were from 1998 Stock . We all wondered what Glenmorangies stock would be like at 10yo , we all wondered what 10yo would be like at Cask Strength ? This answered our questions ! The release was vatted from 1st Fill (Fresh) Ex-Bourbon casks and bottled at 55.9% .

Ripe Barley in Colour , the nose has bags of peat at first , followed by creamy fudge , a wee touch of Cocoa , Also seashore ( seaweed ) and dunnage warehouses (earthy?). The palate is 24 Carat Ardbeg ! Peat , smoke , Cocoa , Dark chocolate , creamy , very luxurious over the tongue….. Absolutely fantastic ! The finish is very long , cocoa , peat , coffee , creamy fudge….

This is fantastic stuff ! It’s a real shame they never continued with a regular 10yo cask Strength bottling .