Review 2017-022 «Specifics» Single malt • Raw Cask Series • Bottled in 2014 • 60.0% Alcohol • Matured for undisclosed number of years in a hogshead • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Sourced from an undisclosed distillery (Islay, Scotland) • Bottled by Blackadder • Tunbridge Wells • England • Limited availability (180 bottles) • Not available anymore, but other casks are (price €84-95) • Whiskybase #58916
STORY. Fèis Ìle, the yearly Islay Festival of Music and Malt, has evolved from a happening to celebrate Gaelic culture to one of the largest whisky festivals in the world with around 100.000 visitors from all over the world, doubling of the Island population. This year the festival took place from 27 May to 3 June, and as usual all the Islay distilleries, and several independent bottlers, released their special Fèis Ìle bottlings. As this reviewer cannot visit the festival in person, we will raise a dram (or more) to celebrate the many great whiskies that this Islay has given us. To quote the Blackadder website: “Peat reek is is the smell of burning peat, the flavours of which are imparted in to malting barley as it is slowly dried while the smoky reek of the peat is drawn over it”. They do not reveal the distillery, only that it is a pure, unadulterated spirit that celebrated “the phenols and creosols of a gently smouldering peat fire”.
APPEARANCE. Retro and original design, colour of the contents is pale yellowish and has its natural colour with some wood fibres.
NOSE. It is pretty shy at first, but this is not a I-wanna-throw-as-much-peat-in-your-face-as-possible whisky. Once settled, we find peat mixed with lime skin, sweet and fresh, and a drop of TCP. Later on there are sweet pears and some lovely tropical fruits. Even a floral note can be found (these fresh sweet white flower, cannot remember the name…). (water) This brings shellfish, fresh prawns, lots of minerals, and a lovely copper note. Add to that some herbs, in particular mint and star anise. Then there is more peat, lime juice, lemon skin and ocean winds. It is very fresh, clean and complex. And I think I have an idea about the distillery…
TASTE. The palate brings fruity peat with citrus fruits and tropical fruits. This is very agreeable, despite the high alcohol percentage. I get some smoked mangos, pineapples and pears, together with mint and star anise. Then lots of other notes that are difficult to pin down. (water) Dilution brings salty liquorice, lime skin, star anise, mint, smoked water melon (!?). There are lots of smoky orangey things (juice, skin, liquor) and tropical fruits on the barbecue (shortly). This is perfect balanced and has a nice complexity. All very fresh, I even get ice cubes (have you ever licked them?). Wonderful.
VERDICT. If you like your Islay drams lightly peated and complex, this is right in your street. This has got all the elements that you would like to see in such a whisky and we have a strong idea about the origins (begins with a C and ends with la). I must say a did not expect this level of quality before I tasted this, based on the fact that this is an undisclosed (and probably young) release. It is indeed fairly young (I estimate around 10 years), but they have selected the right cask and IMHO it is definitely worth the price.
Recommended for lovers of pure Caol Ila spirit.
Thanks to Norbert for the sample!
What others say
- @Whiskybase: Mean score of 86.67 (3 votes)