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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3 Tasty Samples

It’s not often i buy samples but i wanted to try a few so i purchased 3 off the Master of Malt site….. 

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Douglas Laing Director’s Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn

Longmorn is my favourite Speysider , i’ve been keeping an eye out for a 25yo to add to my bundle of 25yo’s  i’m collecting for our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 2019 . From a refill Bourbon Hogshead distilled in April 1989 and Bottled in June 2014 at 54.2% , it is a pale straw colour in the glass . The nose is extremely fruity and fresh , almost the old Opal Fruits , very buttery and vanilla , quite spicy as well . A wonderful Nose ! The palate is peppery , also lots of oak spices , still lots of fruit but the spices dominate . The finish is quite long with a lovely pepperiness to it .

A Lovely Longmorn , good balance to it and a worthy addition to the “Silver 25” list !

Glenfarclas 25yo

I’ve always had a soft spot for Glenfarclas , it was the First Distlllery Melanie and myself ever did a tour in back in the 90’s , we’ve shared some great old Farclases from the SMWS so a 25yo wouldn’t go amiss on the “Silver 25” list . A very soft sherriness to the nose , the traditional Christmas Cake – cake dough , dried fruits , glace cherries – and a hint of Coffee . The Palate pretty much carries on from the nose with the addition of chocolate and Cola cube sweets , A very sweet medium finish to it .

A Lovely Glenfarclas , definitely a future one for the list…..

Caol Ila 1998 15yo Unpeated – 2014 Special Release

Coming in at a whopping 60.4% , i’ve been want to try this one for a while , i’ve had the 10yo , 12yo and Stitchells Reserve .

Pale Straw in colour , the initial nose is fresh green apples , VERY fresh green apples ! Touch of lemon and Malt . Wow ! This is an incredibly fruity little number after the Apple it bursts into a bulging bowl of fruit , Wonderful ! The fruit continues on the palate , excellent , highly drinkable at the full strength of 60.4% . Really Spicy as well , becomes very Apple Pie and Custard after a while , the spiciness continues into the finish . With a touch of water it certainly calms it down a touch but seems to take a bit of it’s bite away .

An excellent dram , the unpeated spirit seem to get better with age .

A purchase since……

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The “Silver 25” List Currently stands at 9 Bottles……

25s

  • Ardbeg Lord of the Isles
  • SMWS 1978 25yo Brora 61.20 (labelled 61.2)
  • Bunnahabhain 25yo O.b.
  • SMWS 1980 25yo Caol Ila 53.98
  • Bladnoch Forum 1984 25yo Caol Ila
  • Laphroaig 25yo O.b. 2013 Bottling
  • DL Directors Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn
  • Bladnoch Forum 25yo Port Ellen
  • The Wine Society 25yo Islay Single Malt

Islay Visits Part XXXVII – The Final Part !

Friday 1st August 2014 

Our final full day on Islay , Boo ! We decided on lunch at Ardbeg so after a bit of a lie in headed off to the Old Kiln , on the way we spotted a rather fine cruise ship moored in Kilnaughton Bay…….

(Click on photos to see full size)

 

2014_08_01_01The Sea Cloud 2 2014_08_01_02The Rowers Practicing

There was a bit of practicing going on for the Islay Rowing Regatta . Once in we ordered the Fillets of Seabass in a white wine creamy sauce  . After picking up a bottle of Auriverdes and having a chat to Janey we had a stop off at Laphroaig to look at the shop , Melanie bought me a rather nice Polo Shirt and i bought a bottle of the 25yo !

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This will be put aside next to the Bunnahabhain 25yo and Ardbeg Lord of the Isles for 5 years time when we will celebrate our Silver Wedding on Islay . There was just time to pop into The Celtic House Coffee Shop for one last Coffee and Cakes , i must say this has been a great addition to Bowmore , the Coffee is great and the homemade cakes are Sooooo good ! Don’t know what the hell we are going to do next week when it gets to 3pm…… apart from suffer withdrawal symptoms !!!! It was back to the cottage for one last night and doing the worst bit of the holiday , packing up ! The days good weather actually gave us the best Sunset of the holiday…… and loads of Midges!  

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Saturday 2nd August 2014

 Due to being slightly slow and booking the ferry later than normal we couldn’t get our normal 9.45am one so it was the 3.30pm , giving us another chance to eat at Ardbeg . We stopped at the recently re-opened now community owned petrol station in Port Ellen to do our bit to help and got a bit of a surprise when out bounded Jackie to fill our car up ! She was doing her bit for it and in the process had a good view of the Port Ellen Rowing Regatta going on in front of her . It was a shame it started to rain as Islay was been very sporty and as well as the regatta it was also the Islay Ardbeg half Marathon .

So after a full lunch at Beg ( Seafood chowder ,  Supreme of Chicken Lydia with Vegs) , a stop off to see Mark and Helga at Islay studios , we finally departed Islay from Port Askaig on the Afternoon ferry .

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The Spoils….. Purchases , Gifts (Thank You !) and Samples !

Another little adventure over , we will return ! Hogmanay 2014/15    

A Festive Duo !

Not sure whether the titles right but according to the online dictionary Festive – adjective – relating to a festival .So these do relate to a festival ! So once again the Feis Ile (Islay Festival) has been and gone and all mayhem has broken out on Facebook , Twitter and assorted Forums about the availability – or lack of – of certain Feis Ile (Festival) Bottlings via the Internet . The one thing i have learned over the past few years is that no matter what the companies do they are going to get moans/whinges/abuse thrown at them from all directions . Sometimes i wonder why they bother , this year the main one’s seem to have been….. Ardbeg – Lack of bottles and Website Farts (it easier to say that than technical things….) and Laphroaig – the cost , and 1 bottle per person limit (unlike last years numerous BPP and loads of people not getting one…..) . I had no problem getting either , went on the Laphroaig site ordered one through the shop (as did my wife ) , went on RMW ordered one Ardbeg Nae bother . Some people have went way OTT with their postings about these releases ,  Just remember (putting on best Brian Conley voice) “It’s only a Bottle !!!!”

While i’m here i’m going to say something about the couriers everyone seems to be using , i never had any bother with Parcelforce , the parcel was delivered or took to the local P.O. This week i’ve had several parcels delivered from drinks related firms (not just these two) who now seem to avoid Parcelforce like the plague , I would like the choice please when ordering of using either Parcelforce (at extra cost if necessary) or the Courier of your desired choice as i’d rather go to the local Post Office to pick it up than (A) return home to find a Package containing bottles in full view of everyone getting soaked by the rain or (B) the parcel left with someone i don’t know down the street and then finding the package has been opened !!!   <End of Rant>

So to the Tasting Notes……

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Ardbeg Auriverdes

I’ll not bother with the marketing bumf i’m sure everyone knows about it now , it’s burnished gold in colour , initial nosing doesn’t suggest it’s nearly 50% ABV (49.9%) , it seems quite lightweight , a strange nose , light peat , a touch of chocolate coffee and a slight menthol note . There is also a strong note of the Toasted ends , similar to the 1998 1189 and 1190 releases but not as strong . The palate is more akin to a standard Ardbeg , starting with creamy coffee , there is more of a stronger vanilla / bourbon note (again like the 1189/1190 but not as strong) , it is lovely and smooth across the tongue with a nice smokiness to it  . The finish is long , smoky and vanilla with a touch of peat .

While not your usual Ardbeg it is refreshing change and very easy drinking .        

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

I think this is the first time knowingly i’ve had a whisky that’s been anywhere near an Amontillado cask (or is it just  hoggies seasoned with Amontillado ?) . Bottled at 51.4%ABV it is a bright gold colour almost going on to Marmalade / Irn bru ! The initial nose is quite lemony , then earthy dunnage warehouses , . there’s quite a vanilla hit  , eventually the Seashoreness / Farm yard of Laphroaig drifts in . A very pleasant nose . Very dry across the palate but bags of Laphroaig goodness everywhere ( unlike the <Cough> Select <Cough> ) , Not knowing what this type of sherry tastes like i can’t say how much of an effect it has had on it but there seems to be a Barley Sugar type taste in this one that i’ve never encountered in any other Big L . The Finish is definitely Laphroaig , Big , long , peaty , medicinal and Farm yardie .  

A Cracking Laphroaig , doesn’t disappoint , where would i place it within the other recent releases from Laphroaig ? Well above the Select but below the Batch 006 10yo CS   .

Tale of Two Laphroaigs…….

Last Saturday while looking at the Laphroaig website i noticed a new batch of the 10yo Cask Strength had appeared , Batch 006 , being a huge fan of 001- 005 (i took 005 to Toronto with us for Johannas show) i ordered one straight away and decided to also go for the newly released ‘Select’ . Between Saturdays ordering and todays (Wednesday) delivering a load of horror stories about how bad the ‘Select’ was started to appear on the internet , including a review by Mr Whiskyfun himself , Serge (see here for Serges Review ) .

Two Laphroaigs

Slightly alarmed i was wondering whether i’d done the right thing in ordering it ? Oh well i’ve been drinking Laphroaig for nigh on 30 years – i started drinking Malts in the summer of 1984 in my early Twenties , Later on in that year i tried my first Islay , Laphroaig with a mixture of shock and delight ! – so why worry now ! So lets taste them using the standard 10yo as reference…….

Three Laphroaigs 

The Select

Quite pale in colour next to the other two , The nose is actually stronger than the standard 10yo given that they are the same ABV , not as pronounced a Laphroaig nose as other offerings , definitely new wood and vanilla but the farm yard / nettles / seashore is in there fighting to get out , eventually the peat surfaces as well . When left for a while it develops a strange Sweetness . On the palate a whole lot of wood and vanilla at first , very sweet for a Laphroaig , later on the peat appears alongside marzipan . A strange finish for a Laphroaig there is peat but the wood and vanilla soon dissipates it and only hangs  around for a short time .

In Conclusion it’s not your usual Laphroaig , i really can’t figure out why they put it out at 40% , if you want a Laphroaig at 40% you’re going to buy the standard 10yo and not something that , to my palate , is dominated by the new wood . Very disappointing ! 

10yo Cask Strength Batch 006

A very rich Gold colour almost going on Orange Marmalade , A more traditional nose to this one ! Maritime / Seashore , hospital antiseptic and peat intermixing beautiful in the nasal passages ! Now that’s more like it on the palate , seashore , medicinal , peat , nettle , touch of pepper , stir once and swallow ! Excellent finish , Long , medicinal and seashore with a bit of bite .

A very good Laphroaig , don’t think it’s as good as 004 (my Fav) but at some point will have to put it up against some others . My personal preference when drinking Laphroaig is either the 10yo CS or the excellent 18yo .

10yo

Almost Golden Syrup in Colour  , a lot weaker on the nose compared to the other two but definitely Laphroaig , this is actually more seaweedy than the other two as well . Doesn’t stand up to the Cask Strength but this is a dram to have early on in the evening before others or through a session . I still seem to remember it being more of a monster 30 years ago…… 

Islay Visits goes West……. Even More Further West Than Usual !

Since last September we’ve been hiding a big secret !

Let me explain….. As everyone knows we spend every possible holiday on Islay , usually a weeks break in the Spring around about May time , our two week Summer vacation and sometimes a long weekend in the autumn/winter .Our friends who know this have been puzzled by the fact when we’ve been asked when we’re back we’ve been saying not until summer (a long time no visit for us !) and when they’ve wondered why we haven’t been able to tell them causing more bewilderment ! And what perplexed them even more was when i said i’d applied for my first passport , 2 and 2 were put together and 5 was arrived at . So lets go back to September…….

We were about to book our two stays , the Spring one at the start of May and the Summer one slightly earlier than normal in the middle of July , We couldn’t get our normal summer place – Maol Buidhe – as the owners take it then so we went for a new place Lyrabus Croft Cottage just outside of Bridgend . We were about to Book a place in Port Ellen for the spring trip when an interesting e-mail arrived in my inbox from a distant land .

It was from the organiser of a Whisky Festival , She’d really enjoyed reading about our adventures on Islay over the years , 2014 was the 10th Anniversary of their Whisky Festival and they were planning on having an Islay theme , She was wondering if Melanie and myself would be interested in being Special Guests at the event and host an Islay Whisky Lounge ?

Now to say we were slightly shocked was an understatement , this type of thing never happens to us , people offering to fly us half way round the world and have us as Special Guests . We’re not Whisky Icons like a few i could name !

So after letting it sink in for a while , we replied to Johanna taking up her terrific offer of being guests at The 10th Anniversary of the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala in Canada !

So a few firsts in May for me , First trip out of mainland UK , First Flight , First time using a Passport , First time being a Special Guest at a Whisky Festival ! Good job i’ve got Melanie to keep me right !!!!  

So the next “Islay Visit” will be from Toronto , i’m still classing it as an Islay Visit as it’s about Islay and it’s Whisky ! We’ll be taking some Classic Islay Whisky along with us to sample In the Islay Whisky Lounge as we talk about all things Islay and tell the good people about the wonderful piece of Heaven we love off the West Coast of Scotland ! 

We’ve also found out since that a good friend of ours will be there exhibiting , so it’ll be good to see Ashok there !  

A Link to the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala Site

Christmas 2013 Visit Photographs

Here are the Photographs from the Christmas 2013 Visit…….

(Click on photo to see larger version)

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Two views of Laphroaig on the Saturday including the new larger Warehouse “name” .

Heron at Bruichladdich Geese

A Heron across the way from Bruichladdich Distillery and the obligatory “Geese” photo .

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A Buzzard seen at Bridgend .
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One of the Native Animals of Islay……

Heilan Coo Waves

One of my favourites , a Heilan Coo and waves down at Portnahaven .

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The interiors of our place of residence , The Stillmans Cottage , Bowmore Distillery .

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Melanie looking gorgeous as ever on her way out to the Bridgend Hotel for a meal !