Port Askaig 110 Proof

To its credit, this first US release of Port Askaig (named, you guessed it, after a port town on the Scottish island of Islay) is bottled at cask-strength (55% ABV) and without chill-filtration or added coloring from a small batch of “2 to 40″ barrels per batch, which means whatever you’d like it to mean. The barrels in question are from an “unnamed” Islay distillery and are all ex-bourbon casks.

The Ileach Cask Strength

Bottled at a cask strength of 58% ABV, but without any age information, The Ileach Cask Strength is a single malt whisky from one of the distilleries on the island of Islay that makes fully-peated malt. “The Ileach” means “the man from Islay” and you could try pronouncing it as “ee-luck”, but you’d still sound like a tourist. Just don’t say “Eye Leech”. Ew.

Talisker Distillers Edition (2013)

The Distillers Editions from Diageo typically take the big-budget action heroes of the Diageo lineup and then proceed to drown them in sweet wine. Sometimes this works. Sometimes not so much. Here, they take the standard Talisker (aged in ex-bourbon barrels) and finish it in amoroso sherry casks for somewhere around a year. My bottle was distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2013…

Laphroaig Select

…this is the first addition to the core range of Laphroaig in awhile. The official back story for the Select (why does every new release need a back story these days?) is that because the last distillery manager when Laphroaig was family-owned, Ian Hunter, was among the first to utilize ex-bourbon barrels in the maturation of single malt. At the time, Laphroaig would have been primarily aged in used (and reused) European oak wine and fortified wine (sherry, madeira, port, etc.) casks.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016

An unusual, decadent take on the standard Laphroaig brashness. While most of me enjoys the layering of fruit and peat, a small part misses the straightforward intensity, austerity, and rough edges of the Laphroaig 10, which seems to say, “I don’t need any of that fruity nonsense”, and which comes with an age statement to boot. Despite my quirks, I can say that this is an accomplished, well-balanced, and rewarding dram at a perfectly reasonable $80.

Lost Distillery – Lossit

The Lost Distillery Company, founded in 2012, uses archival records and the history of regional distillation of whisky in Scotland to create a “map” of the likely flavors and aromas present in long-closed distilleries, and then creates and bottles replicas of those whiskies using blends of modern malts. … The Lossit distillery was the largest producer of (then illicit) whisky on Islay. … To re-create this lost malt whisky, The Lost Distillery Company blended 5 to 10 single malts around a centerpiece of peated Ben Nevis, including a few malts finished in oloroso and PX sherry casks.

Benromach Peat Smoke

The Peat Smoke release is made from barley smoked to 67 ppm (that’s pretty high: Ardbeg is 55 ppm (except Supernova at 100 ppm) and Bruichladdich Octomore, the highest, is in the 160s) and is aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks (from Heaven Hill and/or Jim Beam) for between 9 and 10 years, although the bottle carries no age statement. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV with no added color.

Ardbeg (10 year)

Ardbeg, that bastion of peat-freakdom, that Mecca of peat-worship, is … a solid contender for membership in the pantheon of best distilleries in the world, and many whisky aficionados would place it high on their personal lists. … It is Ardbeg single malt, using heavily-peated malt (55 to 65 ppm) from the maltings at Port Ellen (Ardbeg’s own kiln-fired maltings closed in 1977) and aged for at least 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels.

Talisker Port Ruighe

…now they’ve added a permanent port-finished NAS expression with the double-entendre of a name, “Port Ruighe”. … Suffice it to say this is NAS Talisker aged in a combination of casks including ex-bourbon, refill European oak, and casks with a “heavy char”. The whisky is then finished in port casks and bottled at Talisker’s standard 45.8% ABV.

Kilchoman Sanaig

Upstart farm distillery Kilchoman has added a new single malt to its permanent portfolio, next to one of my favorites, Machir Bay. Kilchoman specializes in pristine craft peated malt that is remarkable for being excellent at a young age – like 3 or 4 years young. Like Machir Bay, this is partially sherry-aged. In Sanaig’s case, it’s an extra 10 months of aging in oloroso sherry casks.