Laphroaig An Cuan Mòr

I’m impressed that in a side-by-side comparison, it’s clear that this is Laphroaig “plus”. You get extra cinnamon, extra vanilla, and extra oaky sweetness from the European oak that’s just simply missing from the standard expression. It does not taste older, nor mellower. If you feel like your standard Laphroaig could use a little more flavor that isn’t peat, you’ll probably enjoy…

Caol Ila (18 year)

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…

Big Peat

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.

Lagavulin (8 year)

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.

Ardbeg An Oa

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.

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.