Turns out I wasn’t 100% off, as the sample turned out to be Té Bheag (pronounced ‘chey vek’), a blended scotch with a big peated malt component made by Pràban na Linne Ltd. on the Isle of Skye.
Who knew this was going to be a sherry-bomb? Sherry notes that I’d associate with a 20+ year-old sherried malt, meaty and resinous. The peat is nowhere to be found, or so outperformed by the sherry that it instead melds into the background. I would recommend this to sherry buffs, especially those who enjoy the meaty/rancio side of the sherry spectrum.
Here’s a weirdo. Dalmore, in my mind, means two things: Heavy sherry, and orange peel notes. This independently-bottled Dalmore from The Exclusive Malts was distilled in 2000 as cask #6952 and bottled in 2013 at 53.5% ABV. And it’s peated. What?!
This is not a malt for peat-freaks. This is a very well-balanced, mildly peated dram for a very respectable price. Often younger, cheaper Islay malts come across as brash, acrid, and bitter. Legend is the opposite of all of these: gentle, sweet, and mildly smoky.
Uigeadail (pronounced, believe it or not, “Oo-geh-doll”) is named after the loch from which Ardbeg sources its water. The whisky is a vatting of standard Ardbeg from ex-bourbon casks (supposedly the 10-year) with some quantity of sherry-aged Ardbeg. The result is bottled at cask strength.
I’m particularly impressed with the interplay of sherry notes (which are fleeting) with peat notes (which are understated but dominant), without the two ever conflicting. I’ve had $80 peated malts finished in sherry casks that didn’t integrate half as well.
The clean, crisp notes of peach and white grapes carry through from nose to finish, never allowing the peat to dominate. Masterfully blended – a truly excellent example of skilled blending and what it can accomplish.
While I could have done with a bit more robustness at 46% or so, I applaud both the craftsmanship of this whisky, and its sane price point. Clearly more well-rounded and well-integrated than the cheaper Legend, it trades peat intensity for sweetness and subtlety.
So what do you do when you want to beat a competitor’s vast success with Double Wood? Simple. Triple Wood! (Although Auchentoshan beat them to it). In this case, a reasonable vatting of standard ex-bourbon Laphroaig, Laphroaig Quarter-Cask (does that really count as a separate ‘wood’?), and ex- oloroso sherry casks.
I received a sample of the Exclusive Malts single-cask bottling of Laphroaig, distilled 2005/bottled 2013, by the distributor ImpEx Beverages (Thanks Katia!). It’s a single-cask Laphroaig bottled at 55.9% ABV. As usual with single-casks from independents, I’m looking for two very specific things…