It is time to review the latest round of whisky releases so welcome to our second tasting mat. On the table today we have a diverse selection of drams. We start with a new release from Speciality Drinks – an Islay blend called ‘Peat’ before we move on to a dark brooding SMWS Ardbeg. Finally we encounter two spirits from Gordon & MacPhail, a 1991 Speyburn and a majestic 1954 Glen Grant. Enjoy.
Peat [Speciality Drinks] 59.3%
Trying to decipher this whisky is like trying to win the annual Feis Isle nosing completion [my best is a third place finish!] If only they’d stuck to convention and called it, for example, CI2BR1Ar4 – that would have been geeky! Still, this is a fantastic dram, and when you factor in the price its an absolute steal. This is a must buy for 2016.
Nose: This is [literally] Islay in a glass. Lovely phenols and tar mixed in with old boat ropes. Takes me back to Islay and fond memories of holidays. Gorgeous lemon and herbal notes
Palate: Sweet peat that pack a real punch. As it rolls around the mouth it becomes spicy and hot. There are touches of iodine and fishermen’s friends. Finally I get hints of scallops and oysters, and a beautiful aniseed note.
Finish: Long and mouth filling, cheek warming. Liquorice. Cracking!
SMWS 33.132 [Ardbeg] 60.9% [8YO 2nd fill sherry]
Ardbeg. Little more needs to be said really. I love Ardbeg, and it’s great to come across another single cask example that really lives up to the name of this Kildalton distillery. This is a limited and wonderful whisky.
Nose: Dirty, charred steak and meat fat. A decadent nose with peat and smoke entwined. Notes of barbeques, this is SO Ardbeg – mind-blowing.
Palate: A full on assault that builds and builds. There is a lot of intensity in the glass. Reminds me of Hawksmoor with all the meaty notes. The dram is sherry and peat in harmony. After a while it becomes more restrained, smoky Christmas cake? Single cask whisky at its best.
Finish: Long, brooding, emotional – this is a dram for meat lovers.
Glen Grant 1954 [40%]
This spirit is ancient and it is a real treat to be able to try it. Despite its age it is very alive, very vibrant and a wonderful example of how aging can tame and transform a whisky.
Nose: Initially quite closed, but then it opens beautifully to become very rich and plummy. Lots of red fruit and mahogany notes. A very decadent dram.
Palate: Velvety. Black pepper, Christmas cake and black treacle. As expected there is some wood influence but its in perfect balance. Hints of violets and tarragon.
Finish: Long and peppery. Elements of treacle toffee. Beautiful.
Speyburn 1991 [46%]
A younger release in the ‘Wood makes the whisky’ and it’s a lovely example of a Speyburn. I particularly enjoy the sweet and citrus notes. A sipper.
Nose: Vanilla, lemon peel and bubble-gum. The sweetness is tempered by notes of cloves before it becomes more citrusy with hints of orange.
Palate: Soft and delicate. A big hit of vanilla pods and milk chocolate. Touches of cinnamon and spices, and the citrus notes from the nosing make a strong reappearance.
Finish: Soft, refresher sweets and sherbets. Lingers well.