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…
This is the full cask strength version of Laphroaig’s flagship 10-year. At 57.8% ABV and not chill-filtered, this is essentially the standard 10-year minus water, and without the chill-filtration. That means there’s nothing between you and the raw fury of Laphroaig peat. Beware!
Well, that’s Talisker all right. A big, brutish dram with most of the complexity on the nose. It definitely delivers everything you’d expect from nearly-cask-strength Talisker. If you’re already a Talisker fan, then you’re ready to try this.
Young Kilchoman is, on the whole, just so damn well made. This bottling, the 2007 vintage at 46% ABV, is a vatting of 6 year-old barrels, all from ex-bourbon casks.
For the third time, Kilchoman has released a bottling of whisky made 100% from barley grown, malted, distilled, and bottled on the distillery property. That’s huge! Talk about “farm to table” – this is “farm to bottle”, and it really shines.
Compass Box is doing something very cool. After the incredible success (due in no small part to its very high quality) of Great King Street: Artist’s Blend, the company is expanding its blended scotch selection under the Great King Street label.
This is totally unlike the ‘Darkest’ 15-year, and in fact tastes much older and more concentrated. Instead of the wild, fungal brashness of Darkest, the flavors here are muted but sinewy, slow-moving but powerful.
When you think about sherry and peat, you generally think about Highland Park, with its light tickle of citrusy Orkney peat and gently sweet, fruity sherry. This is the opposite of both of those aspects. The sherry is resinous and funky, the peat muddy and vegetative.
The nose is a little off-putting for me, even though I enjoy peat. The muddiness and earthy quality of the peat seems “lower quality” to me than the peat of other Islay distilleries. However, that all changes on the tongue, where the peat gives way to a very tasty chocolate note.
With barley grown in Scotland, distilled and aged under Jim McEwan’s watchful eye, and bottled at a laudable 46% ABV without chill-filtration or added coloring, it was bound to make a big splash. It ticks all of the boxes for me: independent ownership, responsible quality-minded production, craft presentation, and all with medium levels of peat to better showcase the character of the spirit and the quality of the wood.