Tuesday, November 04, 2014

10/31 - The peat strikes back

The slogan says all about this tasting event... this time we'd only peaty whiskys in the glass... 12 brave guys found their way to the lounge to dive into the world of Islay, which is the heart of the whisky world for all of us who like that specific taste.

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The range of six peaty whiskys and a box of Bolivar Petit Belicosos

Islay, the synonym for peat... but in the meantime it's not the only place where that kinda whiskys are coming from. Already the first one of the range is from Speyside, a peated Glenglassaugh New Make - fresh from the stills!

Glenglassaugh Peated New Make

After that exotic excursion to the mainland we came back to the well known island and stayed there literally for the rest of the tasting.

Bruichladdich. An Isleach with a low peat level. For those who know older bottlings from the 70s or 80s might know that in those times the peat level was even lower and the characteristic taste of that distillery was an intensive cereal aroma. Anyhow, we're in the here and now with a 13yo. bottled by James McArthur at a strength of 58.7 %. I found this bottle during our stay on Islay 1.5 years ago in a small shop in Bowmore, also the next bottle was bought in that shop.

Bruichladdich 1991, 13 yo. from James McArthur

Here we are at Bowmore, the distillery just around the corner where I found this bottling which's also from James McArthur, bottled at 56.7 % with an age of 12 years.

Bowmore 1990, 12yo. from James McArthur

The first three whiskys were all on a low up to medium peat level, let's get a little bit more intensive. Port Askaig 25yo., bottled by Specialty Drinks Ltd., a sister company of The Whisky Exchange with its chairman Sukhinder Singh, well known to many connaisseurs around the globe. There are many rumors about the identity behind the Port Askaig bottlings which are usually filled into the bottle at a strength of 45.8 %. The official press release says: "...Remaining true to the practice of the early 1900’s, we bottle Port Askaig 17 and 25 year old at Imperial 80 proof (today's 45.8%vol)...". As I am not the nerd who knows everything I've to trust those people who say that this has been the bottling strength of Caol Ila back in those days. Taking into account the taste of this excellent balanced heavy weight, I've to agree that Caol Ila sounds reasonable. And even if not, it's a great whisky for a fair price!

Port Askaig 25yo.

The next one, Laphroaig PX is only available in Duty Free Shops (I think this bottling is from the first batch) and obviously there's a second release in the meantime which looks a bit different from the bottle that I've here. Is there a different in taste? I don't know but I know that smoke, peat and sherry go together very well, which means that this is a good whisky for a relatively small price.

Laphroaig PX

Last but not least... Lagavulin 12yo Cask Strength. Michael Jackson called it "Islay's most complex malt" and this new bottling from 2013 is a real powerhouse. Peat, earth and smoke, all embedded well in the sweetness of Sherry... its big brother, the 16yo was the door opener for me in the fascinating world of Single Malt Whisky.

Lagavulin 12yo. Cask Strength

As always Urs was taking care of a cigar that we could smoke while we're enjoying this peat in a glass. After talking to me he, decided for a Bolivar Petit Belicosos, the Edicion Limitada from 2009. of which I thought that it should match well. My guess was not too bad and all were happy with that choice.

Talking about the whiskys... which was the big winner of the evening. Honestly it's really hard to say, at this point it's easier to point out the loser which's the Laphroaig PX. On its own it's a nice whisky but beyond all the others we'd in the range, this bottling had no chance. The "best" for me was the Bowmore and the Port Askaig. The Bowmore is a real classic in my books but still had some edges. The Port Askaig's a perfectly balanced whisky and is simply awesome... What about the Lagavulin? Oh well... great whisky and with enough balls to end this fantastic tasting! It was again a big pleasure!