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…..

 

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Lagavulin 8yo 200th Anniversary Edition

It’s been a while since i posted a Tasting Note , mainly because i haven’t had anything new to taste ! I haven’t been buying a lot , make that anything . I’ve been passing on a lot of the recent special releases due to either price ( i’m not prepared to pay stupid prices ) , previous releases being below standard ( The Perprtuum springs to mind….) or Both ! So when a reasonably priced special release comes along i jumped at it……..

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Bottled at 48% , this is a young Lagavulin , 8 years young or as Pinkie used to refer to it  in his warehouse tastings ‘Baby Lagavulin’ , there was always an 8yo on Iains tour , usually sherry cask , but it was usually a front runner on the tasting . This is very light , Very pale straw , lots of lovely legs in the glass . The nose was initally very young but left to open up it soon got peaty and smoky , there is also strong lemon citrus and malted barley . It’s not one of those noses you can sit and linger on , it demands to be drunk !

The palate isn’t overwhelming for it’s youthfulness , it’s quite dry , it’s quite peaty , it also reminds me of a certain lemon throat sweet , there’s a nice peppery spiciness to it . The finish is medium with a pepperyness .

I tried it with a bit water and on the nose it brought the lemon out forward . On the palate it fetched the spices out . This is a pretty good dram , you’ll be more than happy if you are an Islay Peet Heed !

I wanted to try it up against something of a similar age from the distillery and the only thing  i could find was was the Elements of Islay Lg2…..

elements  This is a whole 10% abv higher than the 8yo , The nose is pretty much the same , peaty smoky , lemon , etc etc , the palate packs a much stronger kick but is pretty much the same again . There isn’t much to chose from between the two apart from the extra ABV . Who ever approved this beast of a Laga must have been extremely knowledgable about Islay and it’s malt and must have a very good palate for these things , could also be a pretty good looking chap , intelligent as well……….

Me at Lagavulin

 

Ben Bracken 22yo Islay – Every Lidl helps…..

Malt Maniacs and friends look away now….. :))
One of this years Christmas offerings from Bargain Supermarket chain Lidl is a 22yo Islay Single Malt, ‘Bottled and Produced’ by The Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Co (apparently owned by Whyte and Mackay) , the packaging is more akin to a malt costing twice as much . There’s not much info given , it was aged in Oak Casks (bet the SWA is glad of that…..) and the Pot Stills were made of Copper ! This bit of info is worrying , as a person who has been to all of Islays distilleries several times i’ve never noticed a pot still that wasn’t ! Have i missed something? Are they hiding Non-copper pot stills away from the prying eyes of us visitors? 

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Bottled at 40% and Chill Filtered , The Colour is of Olde English Marmalade , the nose is quite closed at first, there’s a hint of peat at first , not a huge dollop , eventually a nice bit of seashore and nettle , a soupçon of lemon and a touch of creamy chocolate . The palate has a bigger hint of peat , it is a bit smokie as well , almost like breathing the air after a bonfire on the beach has died down . It actually gets better with every sip ! Very smooth across the palate with a kick on the finish , watch out for the peat shovel on the finish……

A nice enjoyable dram that improves as it opens up , not bad for £45 , so given that it’s a 22yo – from either 1992 or 1993 – the main question is where is it from ? I’ve never been very good with Non-Attributed Malts , especially supermarket ones ,  The last Islay NA Malt i bought was The Wine Societies 25yo the conclusion on that one was that it was a Bowmore , This one rings the Laphroaig Bell , but that’s just my opinion…….

The 2015 Feis Ile Bottlings Tasting……

On Friday i attended a tasting of some of the 2015 Feis Ile bottlings hosted by Eddie Ludlow , I must admit i went in with a bit of trepidation having already tasted the “Ardbeg Day” Perpetuum and after having visited it several times growing to dislike it by every tasting…….

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So what did we have ? Here it is Dram by Dram……. 

First up was the Caol Ila , from 1998 this one has been triple matured , first in American Hoggies then in Moscatel wine Casks and finally in Puncheon Casks , 1500 bottles at 57.3% . On the nose i got the Caol Ila Medicinal along with toffee and boat loads of wine . The palate was pretty much the same very sweet wine , the finish was quite long , sweet and malty . Have to say it isn’t one of my favourite Caol Ilas as wine casked malts are not exactly my thing , i much preferred last years offering , as i said in my tasting notes HERE “I prefer it when distilleries do this rather than mess about with fancy casks , back to basics ! ”  

Next was the Ardbeg Perpetuum “Distillery Only” version , this one was bottled at a higher strength , 49.2% , than the Ardbeg Day one . Now according to the Bumf this is supposed to represent the Past , Present and Future of Ardbeg…….. The initial nose was very closed to start with but when something did appear it wasn’t very Ardbeggie , not very peaty but had creamy coffee . The palate was very young , quite feinty with dry peat , all i can say about the finish is it’s long…… Again for something that is supposed to celebrate the 200th Birthday it is very disappointing , i think Ardbeg need to go back to the basics none of these poncy named versions made up of specially selected casks , how about a 10yo CS like the stunning Renaissance ? Could they not have hung on a little while to do a special 1998 resurrection of the 17yo ? With the last 4 releases by LVMH i’m starting to loose confidence in the distillery……. BTW as i write this i’m dramming the 47.4% version , it’s still not any better !

Salvation , sort of , came with the 3rd dram , Another 200th Anniversary one , the Laphroaig Cairdeas comes in at 51.2% , this one was made with malt entirely done on their own floor malting , distilled on only the small stills and laid to rest in the oldest warehouse ! The nose is a subtle iodine mixed in with farm yard and a touch of lemon . it is actually better with a drop of water , the palate has a nice peaty / iodine / maltiness to it , it is quite relaxed at first but if you hold in on the tongue for a while it explodes into life ! The finish is very long , farm yardie and malty . The best of the night so far , it is a stunning Laphroaig but i have to add with the stunning rise in quality of the recent 10yo CS batches and my personal favourite the 18yo , it doesn’t actually seem that special……

Number 4 is from Islays newest distillery , this bottling is for the 10th Anniversary of Kilchoman , bottled at 58.2% from casks from 2005 – 2012 and made up of 70% bourbon to 30% sherry . The nose starts of quite fruity then peaty then suffers from the one thing i find in all the Kilchomans i’ve tried , it smells young . The palate is feinty peat with a touch of sherry and the finish comes in long and feinty . This distillery release is still way too young for my liking .

Over the recent years the bottlings have become a bit of a cash cow in the festival and a few indy bottlers have recently jumped on the band waggon , this year it was the SMWS’s turn with the penultimate dram of the tasting . 3.243 ‘Dark , smouldering flamenco gypsy’ , a 17yo Bowmore from a sherry butt . After my last experiences as a SMWS members many moons ago i was expecting the worse when i saw it was a sherried dram , luckily it wasn’t the dreaded ‘S’ word ! The nose was your archetypal Christmas cake with peat and it was pretty much peated sherry on the palate with a good balance between spirit and cask . The finish was long , sherry with the Bowmore Parma Violets . Not a bad dram on the whole .

They say you always keep the best to last……. Well Eddie has , a 1991 Lagavulin at 59.9% , double matured for 24yo , first in American Hoggies then into PX casks (that seems familiar……) . The nose is very smooth , a touch of smoke with digestive biscuits and a smidge of farm yard , the palate has a  touch of sweetness with smoke and peat . The finish is quite long and very sweet . It is a very good Lagavulin !

So a bit of a mixed bunch , it’s now 6 years since we were last at the Feis Ile , we don’t miss it and we don’t miss the bottlings , the original concept of the Feis Ile bottling has been lost in the mists of time now especially as there is now a Whisky Auction van waiting on the isle to take your purchase away to make loads of money off it . If i’ve upset some of my distillery friends with my ramblings , sorry , don’t take it to heart , you have to take the rough with the smooth……  as we are increasingly !     

Ardbeg Perpetuum

One of the two releases for the Ardbeg Distillery’s 200th Anniversary , this one comes with a box and at the lower ABV 47.4% , the other was a Distillery only release .

perpetuum

Pale gold in colour , The initial nose is incredibly smoky , huge bonfire ! There’s quite a youthfulness to it , it’s very malty , quite medicinal as well , there’s also  the Ardbeg creamy coffee buried just beneath all this . All in all quite a lot happening on the nose .

A very strange start to the palate , would have sworn it was a laphroaig if it was in a blind tasting . , quite medicinal again , nettles and farm yard ,  there’s the smoke again and the creaminess , there’s also a nice peppery / spiciness to it . The finish is very long with a nice smoky spiciness to it .

This is the first Ardbeg i’ve bought since last years Ardbeg Day release , have to say it’s better than the last two releases i’ve tried (The new Kildalton and Supernova) ,  a pleasant surprise but it doesn’t come across as an Ardbeg , to my palate anyway , worth a try though .

Edit – I have to say i have revisited this several times since my initial tasting and have been less impressed with it every time , Still doesn’t taste like an Ardbeg (or a Laphroaig , as previously stated) and tastes younger everytime , Very disappointed in it as a 200th Anniversary offering , hope the Laphroaig (if i ever get one…. ) is better……..    

A New Year And a New Feel and Direction !

A Happy and Prosperous 2015 to all our regular visitors !

At this present time we should have been concluding another visit to Islay but due to a nasty little bug i’ve been laid up in bed all Holiday season and we ended up having to cancel our planned trip at the last moment . Seeing we now probably won’t be returning to Islay until about mid-2016 at the earliest now i’ve decided to change the blog slightly and move away from the Islay visits a touch , don’t worry any Islay visits in the future will still be reported here and all the old reports won’t vanish ! It isn’t really too hard to do as i tend to post more tasting notes , other visits etc more here now anyway , especially seeing Johanna has created such a travel monster ! LOL!!!

So basically i’ve renamed the blog (The inspiration for it came from a bit of Twittering from my good friend in Canada Gerald/@G2Whisky back in October- Cheers Mate !) and got a new URL http://thewhiskyodyssey.net – the old islayvisits.net will still get you here till sometime in May .

So what does this Year hold in store for us ? Who knows! Well there will be a mega Canadian tasting extravaganza shortly and a return to Toronto for a more concise examination of their Whisky Gala !     

That was the year that was…..

Well it’s that time of the year again , the time to look back at the past 12 months .

The Scotch Whisky hype has reached new levels this year and i seemed to have taken a step back from it . Surprisingly from the 3 Ardbeg releases this year i only bought one , the Feis Ile one (Auriverdes) , this years Committee release is the 1st one i’ve passed on since joining in 1999 , i thought £125 was way too much for a NAS release regardless of how peated it was , at least it gave another bottle for someone to throw into an auction…..

After trying the 3rd one , The “New” Kildalton , again i thought the price was too much for the whisky . The only other Islay bottles from this year i bought were mainly Feis ile releases (The Lagavulin , the Caol Ila and the Cairdeas from Laphroaig ) , i did stock up on the recent Laphroaig 10yo CS batch (excellent as ever) and their 18yo . We’ve only been to islay once this year (so far….) which is surprising for us but there is a damn good reason……

It’s been a bit of different year this year , our good friend Ashok asked us if we’d be interested in doing some stuff for him as he was returning to India to work from the distillery . We ended up doing 4 of the Whisky Lounges festivals around the country starting in our home City back in March , we had great fun at everyone , discussing a whisky we totally believe in with people who were genuinely interested in it , it actually bucked my interest up in whisky going after it was starting to wane with the previously mentioned over-hyping of Scotch .

nwf2014_2Our public debut “Behind the table”

For the first 3 months of 2014 we kept a secret from the Whisky World , in March we revealed that in May we would be heading over to Toronto to be Special Guests at the 10th Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala ! It was a very big deal for me on several fronts , I’d never been out of the UK before , i’ve never had a Passport before , i’d never flown before and i’d never presented a Masterclass to strangers before !

You can read  all about our adventures at these two postings……

Islay Visits….. Goes West to Toronto Pt.1

Islay Visits….. Goes West to Toronto Pt.2

Friends of Amrut !

To say this was the highlight of the year for us is a bit of an understatement ! We had a great time in Toronto , The City and people were amazing , it was great to finally meet Wendy in person  , we discovered Canadas fine Whisky and Wine and we got to fly over Niagara Falls in a Helicopter ! We cannot thank Johanna and Charles enough for inviting us over and broadening my horizons (Yes Johanna you’ve created a monster ! LOL !!!) and we’ve already booked up to return Next May to have a great time in the City and see the Festival properly from the other side of the table (starting to get confusing over which side of the table i should  be on……) , Mmmmm……. Canadian Whisky!

Ready for Boarding

 

In the Summer we manage to squeeze in a fortnight on Islay , staying in a new place for us on The Rhinns at Lyrabus Croft Cottage . An excellent place to base yourself for a long stay on Islay .

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In September We stretched our wings once again and flew over to Paris for the weekend (Johannas fault….. 😉  ) taking in the Whisky Live that was going on at the time . It was great to have a look around the beautiful City but i have to say i was well disappointed in the Whisky Live , too big and too much security for my liking .

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Discovering New Zealand with Erik (Burgess) at Paris 

We couldn’t believe how hot it was over that weekend and spent a great Sunday wandering and enjoying the city .

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We haven’t done much since , a few more whisky festivals and i’ve been broadening my knowledge of Canadian Whisky…….

Recommendations

So what would we recommend this year ? Here’s a sort of Mini awards for 2014…..

Best Islay Malt –  I have to say of the limited selection i’ve tried this year it’s one from last year that most impressed me , The 25yo Laphroaig 2013 Edition .
Best Non Islay Scottish Malt – Only one winner here , The 50yo Glenlivet that Ian Logan kindly let up sample , absolutely stunning for it’s age ! Cheers Ian !! 
Best other Whisky – Well there are so many Canadians that i’ve tried during and since our visit that could have taken this title , Gibson’s 18 , Forty Creek Barrel Select , Century Reserve 15/25, Pike Creek to name a few but there is one rye that has taken my heart , Pendleton 1910 12yo ! I would add that Eriks New Zealand Whisky and Zuidam Dutch Rye are highly Commended .
Best Meal on Islay – It was between two places The Old Kiln and The Bridgend Hotel , eventually decided on The Bridgend as we had two absolutely stunning meals there , one was our 20th Wedding Anniversary one . 
Best Coffee on Islay – Has to be Roys ! A cracking cup of Coffee and stunning home baking ! oh them cakes….. 
Best Festival –  Yes it’s the Spirit of Toronto ! Although we didn’t get a good chance to sample the wares this year (we will next year!), it is a fantastic event , very classy , a great venue and superbly organised ! Looking forward to our return . 

I hope all our visitors have had as good as year as Melanie and Myself have had ! All that’s left is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year .

We’re already looking forward to 2015 !