Last Friday I attended an Islay whisky tasting hosted by Hans Bol. This event was organised by my “house” liquor store DH17Slijterij. In total I tasted 7 Islay whisky’s of which I took two with me home and at the “after party” I got the opportunity to taste 2 more whisky’s. All of them will be shortly reviewed in this blog post. It was a very pleasant peated evening. So Hans and DH17 thanks for organising this tasting!
Wemyss Peat Chimney 8 year old
A vatting of three different Single Malt whisky’s. Contains Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Highland Park. A starter at 40% ABV. Nose is what the name of this blend states. A gentle Chimney of peat and some coastal saltiness and smokiness (Smoked fish). The taste is quite a bit less. A lot of vanilla, caramel and quite sharp. Some honeyed sweetness and citrus also. The finish is to be described in one word: Short! Nice to start the evening with, but nothing special.
Alchemist Bruichladdich 18 year old
Much gentler on the nose, as is quite familiar with Bruichladdich. Also very clean and refined. In a distance there is a hint of smoke/peat. Doesn’t really impress. The taste is much better and of a different level. Much more smoke/peat, but also some fruitiness (grapes and dried fruits). A longer finish and more flavours due to the higher ABV (46%). Good Bruichladdich!
Wemyss Vanilla Smoke (Bunnahabhain)
Also at 46%. This is very different. Pleasant nose, more power than the former ones. Quite a lot of beautiful smoke and peat appears combined with a distinct influence of vanilla (what a surprise, not), citrusy and coastal notes. The taste is extremely pleasant. Not much evolving form the nose, but this is just an excellent dram (I accidently took another dram of this one (the person next to me was “missing” so there was a set of filled glasses left over). The finish pleasantly long and screaming take another sip. Great dram!
Berry’s Own Selection Bowmore for Whisky Import Nederland 2001
First whisky at cask strength (54,3%). Displaying a dark hefty nose with mineral oils and quite a lot of peat. Missing the more perfumed nose of the Bowmores I tasted before. Real Islay, lots of peat, light smokiness and lots of wood (take a walk through a forest and you know what I mean. After some time the softer tones of fruit and fleur de sel appears, but never leaving the coastal and smokiness behind. Pleasant long finish. Excellent dram (bought one)!
Blackadder Smoking Islay 10 year old (supposed to be an Ardbeg) 2000
An expression of the Rawcask range and boy what does it makes it name come through. No refinement, just raw power of peat, iodine, salt, smoke and peat (yes meaning to say this twice). Ardbeg uses peat which comes from a deeper level displaying more maritime influence then its Islay brothers. The taste is also powerful, quite sharp in the mouth (comes at 59,6%), but also some lightness (several fruits) comes into play. The finish is long and peppery spicy. Winner of the evening and already in my collection!
Kilchoman Vintage 2006
Comes at an ABV of 46% and is a called an a-typical Kilchoman because of the display of much more fruits then the previous releases. This is accomplished by letting the yeast process go on for more than a hundred hours. Gentle tones of peat, accompanied by fruitiness and herbal influences. Little bit getting lost following the raw power of the Blackadder. The taste is much more peaty and oily (engine oil), with tones of cloves and feeling creamy soft (don’t know if this will happen when tasting it at a different moment). Don’t know for sure if this was the right place in the line-up for this whisky. But no doubt it is a very pleasant dram (already in my collection)
Excusive Malts Laphroaig 1990 50,6% ABV
Tasted this before at a tasting and it didn’t impress me. So very curious about how it will act in this line-up and boy was I surprised. The nose did give me a huge blow back, with extreme Laphroaig style peat and smoke. Just could sniff it for a long time. What happened to the more unpleasant tar and sweetness that appeared on the former meeting with this dram ? Now it displays great influence of iodine, salt, sea weed and lots lots of extremely pleasant smokiness. Don’t know what to say, but I learned to give a dram a second change. Couldn’t resist buying one of these for very special moments. Superb dram.
Well the tasting is finished here and everyone was walking around between the whisky’s displayed in the beautiful store of DH17 while talking to Hans Bol and/or discussing the tasted whisky’s. Off course I stayed long and when we (a fellow taster, the people of DH17 and Hans) left and just getting ready to go home, Hans brought in two more whisky’s, both of them from the Berry’s Own Selection range. So two more to come:
Berry’s Own Inchgower 1982 54,5% ABV
I own a whiskybroker Inchgower from the same year, which I tasted the weekend before. These are very different. This one is feeling heavy, old and quite tired. Comes from a Sherry cask and feels closed before displaying influence of dried fruits and lots of woodiness. Also some bitterness appears. Hmmm strange dram. Good dram, but probably drunk to fast to let it display it full flavour.
Berry’s Own Lochside 1981 20 year cask strength
A never tasted distillery for me. But a very pleasant encounter. Very fresh and alive, lots of fruits and vanilla (guess bourbon cask). Again time was short to proper taste this own. But man a great dram to finish a wonderful evening!
So after this I went home, feeling very good and did have an excellent time with everyone! Did go home with four bottles of whisky. The Bowmore and the Laphroaig from the tasting but also two other Blackadder Rawcasks (Tobermory and Blair Athol). Did spend too much money this evening, but did extend my collection with high quality whisky!