Most of Caol Ila’s output is peated and most of it (95%!) ends up in various blends, as it’s the go-to standard for adding smoke to blended malts these days because of its inherent softness and willingness to play with others. This being a Diageo malt, there is essentially no information online. It’s clearly been aged in ex-bourbon casks for its 18 years of maturation, but…
The liquid itself is 100% Islay single malt from the distilleries of Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg, and Port Ellen and is bottled without added color or chill-filtration at 46% ABV. The whisky is so pale as to be almost clear and bears a striking resemblance to Lagavulin 8 year, although the same could be said of most younger peated malts. That Port Ellen component is interesting, as Port Ellen is basically gone from retail markets.
The new formula still relies on Caol Ila and Laphroaig, but at a different ratio and without the extraneous peated Highland malts. The new Peat Monster contains 64% Caol Ila and 35% Laphraoig, plus 1% of the French Oak-aged batch of blended Highland malts that John Glaser seems to be throwing into everything these days.
We have here an 8 year-old Lagavulin bottled at 48% ABV, and so pale that it’s almost clear. This was originally released as the distillery’s 200th (bicentenary) anniversary limited edition, but has since been added to the core range. With that, the information available online dries up. To my palate, this seems to be missing the sherry portion found in the 16-year. Like the 12-year, I would guess this is entirely from ex-bourbon casks.
I’m always up for a chance to try something new without having to purchase a whole bottle! The “Unpeated Style” releases, from an annual run of unpeated Caol Ila made by the distillery for blending purposes, are a Special Release series bottled by Diageo once a year, often at different ages and always at natural cask strength. …
A no-age-statement (shock! awe!) vatting of various casks of Ardbeg including new (virgin) charred oak, Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry, and first-fill bourbon. These are all dumped into a French oak “Gathering Vat” in the new “Gathering Room” at Ardbeg. Note that most other distilleries call this a “marrying vat” or “marrying tun”, but we’ll let them have their cutsey name. The result is bottled at the randomly-chosen 46.6% ABV without chill filtration.
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.
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.
…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.
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.