Spirit of Islay Cask Samples

Back in the Whisky Good Ol’ Days ( When bottles were reasonably priced and had an age statement on – remember that – and Distillery Casks were reasonably priced…..) the people who were on the Spirit of Islay Yahoo Club (huh?) and Weekly chats ( well before Twitter tastings….) decided to buy first a Port Charlotte Hoggie then a Bruichladdich Bourbon Barrel . Now 14 years and 8 years on they are rapidly approaching bottling .

Up until March they resided at Laddie Distillery but we had to move them as Laddies shipping policy ( to the registered owners address only ) wasn’t favourable so given that the shareholders don’t all reside around me it was decided to move them somewhere that would be able to bottle and ship them to various countries . The obvious choice was Whiskybroker . So off we went today to meet up with Martin and get a sample from SOI 1 and II . It was only this time last year we were over to get a sample from the Longmorn cask and things have certainly progressed at Whiskybroker central ! Loads more racking , loads more  casks and a new super- duper bottling machine , Martin and Jane are certainly doing a cracking job in Creetown ! So onto the samples……

Spirit of Islay II Bruichladdich 2008

In an ex-Buffalo Trace 1st fill Bourbon Barrel , coming in at a whopping 64.2% ABV . Straw in Colour , since the last time i tried it it is now definitely a Laddie , for the ABV there is no burn on the nose , fresh green fruit , apples , pears , touch of the tropicals as well – Bananas , mango , pineapple . Vanilla custard , Lovely stuff !

The strength hits you on the palate , the fruit is there again covered in custard , quite a long finish but i need to try it with water…..

With Water the fruit explodes even more on the nose , it takes the burn off the palate and brings the flavours forward beautifully , actually noticing the Laddie fudge / toffee now  , it actually takes quite a bit of water . Have to say i’m very happy with how this cask has gone .

Spirit of Islay Port Charlotte 2002

In a (possibly 2nd , 3rd or 4th) Refill Sherry Hogshead , measuring a respectable 59.9% ABV . light Amber in colour , this has moved on so much since the last time i tried it (2014) , the colour now looks like a sherry cask matured whisky , the nose is amazing , still has the PC ash , Coal Smoke , a touch of seashore , there is a lot going on in the nose , really complex , too complex for my nose , where’s Serge when you need him……

Wow ! the palate is beautiful , nice and peaty , a touch of the fishermans friend , menthol , nice hint of lemon , again very complex with a lovely long finish . Water smooths the edges off , but i think i prefer it in it’s original state . Another excellent cask , as Serge once said to me i’ve been a luck B……. with casks and i have to agree !

 

Whiskybrokers site is HERE

A Bank Holiday Weekend……

The Whitsun Bank Holiday (as it’s known in the UK) is the second long weekend in the Month of May , We decided to make the most of it and partake in a couple of trips…… 

Saturday 28th May

It’s been a few years since we’d seen the cask of Longmorn we have a share in , it ws in it’s first year the last time we seen it , it was then stored in Bladnoch when it was under the stewardship of Raymond , since then there’s been a change of ownership and a change of storage facility , it’s now in a warehouse at Creetown owned by Raymonds son Martin . It’s been over a year since we last saw Martin so we could kill two birds with one stone so to speak , Catch up with Martin and check up on the Cask ! Ok 3 birds , pick up some bottles off Martin……. We set off from Newcastle earlyish on the Saturday , Well earlyish for a Saturday Morning start…..

It was very overcast when we left Newcastle but by the time we’d reached Dumfries (after the obligitory Coffee and cake stop) the sun was out and made it a glorious drive along the lovely Galloway coast . Martins business has progressed since we last popped in , so has his family with the recent addition of a 3rd baby boy Ben ! Martin gave us a tour of the premises before taking us to the recently opened warehouse , it was only recently he got the documentation off HMRC to start using the warehousing and he’s been busy moving casks in . Our cask is currently stowed in the Traditional style , in a stow 3 casks high , he is moving towards the Racking way .

(Click on the photo to see full size version)

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We removed a sample and had a quick taster from the cask…….

bhw_001Longmorn 2012

4yo at 61.3% , from a Fresh Bourbon Barrel 

First thing that strikes you about the nose is the sheer fruitiness of it  , Very Longmorn like , there’s also a big dollop of vanilla and a slight lack of youthfulness ! For it’s strength it doesn’t wreak havoc with your nasal passages . A lot of fruitiness on the palate again, bags of spices but the palate does show it’s age , it’s still thoroughly drinkable . The finish is Long , fruity , spices . A drop of water calms the palate down a lot and brings the fruit further forward and reduces the youthfulness .

An amazing dram at 4yo , very , very enjoyable but still needs a few more years . heading the way of a 7yo Longmorn that I purchased from the SMWS many moons ago that was so damn go I bought multiples of it .  

Martin also  gave us a try of an 8yo Craigellachie from a refill sherry butt ( Very nice but still needs a bit more time imho ) before heading back to the office for a coffee , a bit more of a natter and to collect a couple of bottles……..

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Bunnahabhain 23yo

46.3% , 156 outturn , ripe straw in colour £66.50

A wonderfully intriguing nose , very relaxed (as you’d expect at 23yo) , the usual confectioners sugar along with a touch of exotic fruit , ripe banana , after a little while there’s a lovely butterscotch toffee note appears . Great nose , one of them you could sniff for ages . Lots of hot spices to start with on the palate , was expecting more of a sweetness to it but it actually reminds me of a 1980 Bunna I had bottled by BBR , not a standard tasting Bunna but very enjoyable .A medium finish with clove and spices.

An enjoyable Bunna but I said not a standard one palate wise . Didn’t try it with water as it’s perfectly ok at this strength .

Ben Nevis 18yo

53.5% 264 Outturn 1/10/1996 – 15/07/2015 Hogshead 1329 light gold in colour £45 at the time.

A Sweet nose , Marzipan very akin to Battenberg cake , Vanilla , there’s a touch of Christmas Cake even though it doesn’t say whether this is a Bourbon or a sherry Hoggie .
A Bit of a bizarre palate , Wood spices to start with , Lemon , quite a sharp citrus note , then a sweetness keeps bouncing in , again there is a hint of sherry . A Long finish with a mixture of Sweetness , Lemon and spices and again a sherriness .

A bit of a strange dram but thoroughly enjoyable.

After we bid farewell to Martin we headed back East to Newcastle .

You can find Martins Business at Whiskybroker.co.uk

Sunday 29th May

After a more leisurely start to the morning  , we headed up north into the wilds of Northumberland to once again visit Cragside in Rothbury . We decided to do a short Woodland Walk this afternoon , once again it was overcast when we left Newcastle but the sun had appeared by the time we arrived at Cragside . The walk took us up the back of the House……

bhw_003A quite steep walk to start with but it did give us a good view over Rothbury……

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We were hoping to catch a sight of an elusive Red Squirrel but got treat to a local Raptor…..

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off we go…..

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Bye !

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We actually had 4 Raptor sightings this day , 3 on the drive back to home . The walk back to the Visitor Centre gave us some good views over the Estate ,One of the estate cottages…

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Which looks over Tumbleton Lake…..

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and has baby lambs in the field in front of it…..

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After such an exhausting walk it was only right we treat ourselves to a National Trust Cream Scone and Coffee before heading back home !

Two from WhiskyBroker…….

Ardbeg and Longmorn , a perfect Combination ! Ardbeg independent Bottlings are getting harder to find , when Whiskybroker put this one up on line last Wednesday it sold out in 15 minutes . He also put several other Single Cask bottlings up at the same time , i was predictable and ordered the Longmorn…….

Ardbeg and Longmorn

Ardbeg 20yo Cask #434 , 46.6% , Distilled 16th March 1992 , Bottled 12th February 2013 , Outturn 222 Bottles .

From a Hogshead , it is a light Gold in colour for it’s 20 years in the cask , well nearly 21….. The nose is initially peaty which is a bit of a surprise given it’s age ( normally the peat would have dissipated at this age and be more iodiney so may suggest a not very active cask) , quite citricy (Lemon) , there’s also a hint of the Ardbeg creamy Coffee ,chocolate and pine nuts . After a bit of breathing the peat subdues . More of the same on the palate , a tad more lemony , very relaxed across the mouth with the Ardbeg-dine appearing but still not as prominent as say in a 1970’s bottling . The finish is long with peat , lemon and creamy coffee. A very good Ardbeg which seems to have been in a decent cask given the time at which it was bottled ( Allied were filling mainly for blending so casks weren’t the best at times) . A BIG Thumbs up to Martin ! Especially at £65 a bottle…..

Longmorn 20yo Cask #71773 , 55.5% , Distilled 25th May 1992 , Bottled 13th February 2013 , Outturn 220 Bottles .

The Longmorn is also from a Hoggie (same parcel as the last two i bought off Martin) , the colour is also very similar ,  The nose is quite sweet and spicy , lots of oak spices , almost bourbony , there’s opal fruits there as well . A really nice nose . The palate is almost identical , spicy and fruity , with a touch of wood . It glides across the mouth . The finish is medium with wood spices (bourbony) . A very good dram , i still wonder about this parcel , either it was special casks ( along the lines of toasted etc) or they were very fresh ones . Worth a punt at £44.60 a bottle .

Have a look at Martins site at WhiskyBroker.co.uk