Tag Archives: Islay

Lagavulin Distillery

Lagavulin 8YO – 200th Anniversary Edition [48%]

It’s been a good couple of years for anniversaries along the Kildalton coast of Islay with two celebrated last year, while 2016 sees Lagavulin join the party.

Lagavulin, the word rolls off the tongue and just conjures this expectation, this anticipation that you’re about to sample something special. This distillery holds a soft spot in my heart; when I visited Islay in 2010 Lagavulin was the first distillery I went to, the first tour I did, and the first warehouse tasting I experienced. It was also the first Feis bottle I bought and drank with friends. Since then I’ve had many a good memory of the distillery, the whisky it produces and the people who work there. I guess that’s why I’m quite excited about this release! So without further ado, here’s our review. Enjoy.

Lagavulin Distillery

Lagavulin 8YO – 200th Anniversary Edition [48%]
I remember sitting in the Lagavulin warehouse in 2010 and enjoying a younger Lagavulin. It was either 7 or 8 years old and was one of the drams of the festival. We questioned at the time why Lagavulin don’t release younger whisky and we were told it was unlikely to ever happen. Well it seems like the 200th anniversary of the distillery was the excuse they needed. I’m delighted to say that this whisky doesn’t disappoint. To me it is a purer form of Lagavulin, I love this spirit without too much sherry influence and this 8 year old is like a dialled down Special Release. It is almost certainly the first of several releases to celebrate the bi-centenary, but it is well priced, has lots of flavour and would make a great addition to your drinking shelf
Nose: Bags of citrus peel up front. Becomes darker with hints of cocoa powder and burnt lemon. There is a good amount of soot and wood embers that adds a lovely depth to the dram. We also found homemade chocolate beetroot cake. Takes me right back to warehouse tastings with Pinkie.
Palate: Initially light with sherbet lemons. Spicy rather than the expected peat on the first taste, cinnamon and liquorice dominated. The smoke comes in later as a wisp moving through the liquid and brings with it some black pepper heat. Quite creamy and vegetative.
Finish: Build and builds, lemon juice

Caol Ila from the sea

Feis Ile 2015 Day Three

Day three of the Feis is always a highlight. Caol Ila is the destination of choice and this year they put on a fabulous show – and even managed to steal the sun from Bruichladdich. We arrived at the sea front mid-morning and reacquainted ourselves with old friends; David, the manager and some of the tour guides at the distillery. We also bumped into the legendary Colin Dunn who was on fine form and looked after us well throughout the day.

The Line Up

Feis Ile 2015 Day Two

The second day of Islay is all about Bruichladdich. This year was Jim’s final tasting and what a selection of whiskies we sampled. When you start the morning with a 30 year old single cask you know you’re in for a cracking session. Many thanks to Bruichladdich and Jim et al for the event, it was simply wonderful. Here are some brief notes on a fabulous morning of superb whisky.

Michelle in the Still House

Michelle [Bruichladdich Tour Guide]

Welcome to the first in a series of notes about Bruichladdich. We visited the distillery in August and were bowled over by the passion everyone there has for the whisky and the brand – it is like one big family. Therefore we’ve decided to devote a few posts to telling a bit of the story of Bruichladdich through the people that work there. In the near future we will publish our interview with Jim, and following that our discussion with Adam and Allan. First though we wanted to give you an overview of the distillery through the eyes of a tour guide, and who better than Michelle?

Islay Ferry and Port Ellen Lighthouse

An Islay evening with Douglas Laing

Our friends at Douglas Laing know us well – not only did they send us a fabulous little collection of whisky from their Provenance range.. they sent us an exclusively Islay parcel of whiskies from their Provenance range! After being at the Feis Ile this year we’ve grown accustomed to drinking the lovely peaty stuff in the summer sun and so the recent arrival of the British summer provided an opportunity to dig out the shorts, the festival glasses and imagine the view from our humble Birmingham abodes was really the expanse of  Loch Indaal!

Douglas Laing had kindly sent us a sample of the recent launched Big Peat Small Batch (which is reviewed elsewhere on this site) and three single malts; one each from Caol Ila, Bowmore, and Laphroaig. Alongside a photo of each location from our recent trip, here are our thoughts on some really interesting Islay spirits.

Douglas Laing Provenance Caol Ila (Young & Feisty) [46%]
A lovely Caol Ila that is perfect for this time of year! Reminded us of a summers day on the Isle of Islay.
Nose: Lots of woodsmoke and damp grass. Liquorice and aniseed comes through intensely before we experienced some more maritime notes
Palate: Light and summery with enough smoke and peat to remind you of Caol Ila. Heavy on the lavender before the delights of a salty seafood barbecue hit the senses
Finish: Long and salty as the smoke fades away

Caol Ila Distillery

Caol Ila Distillery

Douglas Laing Provenance Bowmore 10 [46%]
Sadly I found this whisky a bit too floral and fragrant for my taste, preferring the power of the earlier Caol Ila. If you are looking for peat and smoke then I’d consider the Caol Ila or Laphroaig. If you enjoy the more perfume-y Islay’s then this may well be up your street!
Nose: Quite savoury and floral (reminded me of slightly overcooked rosemary). Lots of damp warehouse notes wrapped in a smoked chocolate bar.
Palate: Again very floral – think summer meadows in full bloom. Sweet and sugary with a definite menthol edge
Finish: Long and sweet

The door of legends

The door of legends

Douglas Laing Provenance Laphroaig 10 [46%]
Laphroaig was the whisky that started it all for me [Jon] and this is another beautiful Laphroaig that shows off the quality of the distillery. No messing around just a fabulous 10 year old whisky that is well worth checking out.
Nose: Soft and malty with a lovely creamy and vanilla scent. Over time is became more sterile and medicinal and smelt like peaty cough sweets (now there’s an idea!)
Palate: Sweet peat. This whisky tastes very raw and natural and benefits hugely from this. Lovely amount of spice and smoke.
Finish: Peppery, drying, long

Enjoying the whisky at Laphroaig

Enjoying the whisky at Laphroaig

All in all we had a fantastic night sampling these whiskies. The favourite of the evening was the Laphroaig – it was intensely raw, almost like you could taste the constituent parts and it was very different to the distillery 10 year old so is well worth investigating for that something a little bit different!

Thanks are due to Douglas Laing – we really can’t wait to see what you release next. Please do keep up the fabulous work!

Feis Ile 2013 Day Seven

Feis Ile 2013 Day Seven

I suppose that we must apologise in advance for this post. It isn’t everyday that you get to sample some fabulous drams of Ardbeg on the peat bog. Oh… and try six Port Ellen’s at Port Ellen… in the actual kiln. But more of that later.

Lagavulin Distillery

Feis Ile 2013 Day Six

Day six of the festival was supposed to be light on the whisky; a mini detox if you like before the spoils of Friday hit us. Lagavulin had other plans though. As you know we missed out on Lagavulin’s day through travelling up to Scotland so we jumped at the chance to take part in a warehouse tasting with the legend that is Iain McArthur. We arrived at the distillery and were led down to the warehouse by Iain who as usual was entertaining us with jokes and stories along the way. The actual tasting was fabulous. Iain was on top form, he was very funny and informative and entertained everyone – he also included the now customary rubbing of whisky into the hair of people who weren’t looking at, or listening to him! The whisky at Lagavulin speaks for itself and it isn’t often that you have the opportunity to try it straight from the cask. Here then are our brief notes of a rather good morning.

Kilchoman Cask No 1

Feis Ile 2013 Day Five

Wednesday on Islay is Bowmore Day, and as fortune would have it we were staying in Bowmore so the 09:30 tour wouldn’t require a massively early start. Except that it did, as we were up and at the distillery for 07:30 to obtain a precious silver ticket that would allow us to buy a bottle of the more affordable Bowmore Feis Ile bottling. We’d arrived too late on Saturday to make the distillery so we were keen to ensure that we were able to obtain a couple of the final 300 bottles.