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 !     

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Best of the Year 2012

Once again we’ve reached the end of a year , so time to hand out a few plaudits ! It’s been a pretty good year , we had 3 excellent trips to Islay including one for the bottling of a Port Charlotte Cask .

Islay Distillery Bottling of the Year – I actually struggled at first to think of any new Owner bottlings i’d tried this year ! I suppose our 10yo Port Charlotte is officially a Distillery bottling but for Private owners but it would seem a biased to declare it the best of the year……. So i started thinking of the special distillery bottlings i’d tried , the Feis Ile ones , the Cairdeas Origin (the best Cairdeas so far in my humble opinion) , The “Ardbeg Day” release (an excellent Ardbeg) , then i thought of the two little bottles from the Laphroaig “Distillers Wares” tour , the 15yo was an exceptional Laphroaig . Then it dawned on me , there was a rather special one…… So this years Islay Distillery Bottling of the Year is…… The Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength Batch 004 ! My notes were……… 

Another of the wonderful Laphroaig 10yo CS Batches , on the nose you initially get quite a strong Farmyard / nettles smell then the seashore / iodine comes sweeping in . The palate is very old school Laphroaig , it actually took me back to when i first tried Laphroaig back in the 80’s , Very intense medicinal (iodine) with a lovely touch of creaminess to it . The finish is long with a lovely creamy medicinalness . A stunning Laphroaig Cask Strength , probably my favourite batch so far , may have to think about getting another one…….

i didn’t get another one , i got another 3 ! The best 10yo CS……. So far !!!

The Laphroaig Haul

The winner with other Laphroaigs

   

Islay Independent Bottling A few more to choose from in this category . We’ve had a few from the Armstrong family in one guise or another , the forum bottled an excellent 22yo Bunnahabhain , Whiskybroker hit us a few more Bunnas , as did Berrys . Cadenheads release a couple of 21yo Begs , the stronger of which was up there with the legendary 21yo Committee bottling but my Favourite was from Bunnahabhain . I’ve had a fair few aged Bunnas in my time including a few stunners that never seemed to make it out of their warehouses , Cadenheads released a 22yo that was up there with the best i’ve ever had a 1989 at 48.1% . Fantastic !

Non-Islay Distillery Bottling of the YearAnother one i struggled with (especially since the end of my SMWS membership…..) , the one i have tried that made me sit up and take notice didn’t even come from Scotland , from the Far East , I had this at one of Eddies Whisky and Seafood meals , I hadn’t had a Kavalan before and this was superb , The Kavalan Classic at 40% , just wish we could buy some ! For a 3yo it’s as smooth as a babys bum and goes down well !

Non-Islay Independent BottlingFor the second year in a row this goes to a Longmorn , the whiskybrokers 20yo release from Hogshead 71752 . A truly amazing Longmorn that was different to all the other aged expressions i’d tried this year .

Best Meal on IslayWe’ve had a very good year of eating out in 2012, Only a couple of meals let us down . The Old Kiln kept it’s standards high , as did the Bridgend Hotel , The Lochside improved beyond belief from it’s lows in 2011 . The best meal of the year goes to An Taigh Osda , Mels 50th Birthday meal to be exact , Paul and Joan served up a treat for my wife !

Tasting of the Year Eddies Islay Blind Fury ! Another Islay treat from the Whisky Lounge!

Event of the Year (outside a normal tour) Could only be the 4th Annual Whisky Lounge Newcastle Festival ! Any event that is attended by Raymond and Florence from Bladnoch has to be special !

Islay Distillery of the year This year it goes to Laphroaig ! The Distillers Wares tour was excellent , the two bottles filled on it were superb and this years Cask Strength and Feis Ile releases were outstanding .

Laphroaig Tour 6