Bowmore Darkest 15yo

This was a delightful little dram that I first got to taste at the distillery and purely by accident. We were on a very tight Islay timeline (we were there literally for 5 hours) and were travelling back to Port Askaig to catch the ferry, when our taxi driver said that he left his cell phone on charge at home and if we would mind waiting at the Bowmore distillery while he went home to fetch it? Of course we did not mind!

Bowmore_15yo_Darkest_The Smoky Dram

Whisky: Bowmore 15yo ‘Darkest’, 43% ABV

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 15 years

 

Founded over two centuries ago in 1779, Bowmore is the first recorded distillery on Islay and one of the oldest in the whole of Scotland. They still smoke their malt in a peat-fired kiln, just as their ancestors did over 200 years ago. Bowmore’s now legendary No. 1 Vaults is a very special place indeed as it is the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland and the only one below sea level.

Bowmore is one of an ever decreasing handful of distilleries to produce its own floor malted barley. Every four hours, the barley is still laboriously hand turned by their Maltmen using traditional tools.

The ‘Darkest’ was matured in a combination of both bourbon and sherry casks, with the final three years spent in Oloroso sherry casks.

Colour: Lovely tawny to mahogany colour with long, slow and thick legs.

Nose: Sweet and starts out with some winter spices, Xmas cake, raisins before moving on to luscious notes of subtle peat smoke, polished leather and some sea salt spray before ending off with very dark chocolate.

Palate: The entry carries from the nose with soft winter spices, brandied raisins, citrus marmalade and some of that lovely smokiness lingering around with some salty and leather notes, before having more of that very dark chocolate for the end. A big and powerful palate with a lovely weight to it.

Finish: Long and lingering with lovely winter spiciness to a sweetish very dark chocolate end.

Overall: Well as ‘accidental’ tastings go, this really was a great one! I enjoyed this first introduction to the Bowmore range and plan to explore this range more.

My Score: 86

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012

My next review is on that triggered a few memories. It was my 1st whisky tasted at a WhiskyBrother tasting (Islay smoke machines back in 2013), and co-incidentally it was the last dram I had last night at WhiskyBrother to celebrate the shops 2nd birthday. Of interest is that Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on the remote island of Islay for well over a century. Currently another distillery is being built on Islay, Gartbreck.

Kilchoman_Machir Bay_NAS_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012, 46% ABV

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: NAS

 

Machir Bay is a sherry-finished malt from Islay’s (at this stage) newest distillery, Kilchoman. This was released in 2012 and is made up of 60% 3 year old, 35% 4 year old and 5% 5 year old whisky. They all were aged in first fill bourbon barrels, before vatting and finishing in an Oloroso sherry butt for eight weeks.

Colour: Pale straw with medium to thick legs.

Nose: An Islay seaside feel of salty sea spray and seaweed. Has sweet peaty smoke with slight black pepper tones some brininess and citrus fruits (mostly freshly squeezed limes and lemons to me). Nose is clean, crisp and very fresh. Time in glass gives you even more smokiness.

Palate: Follows nicely from the nose with smoke, citrus, salty and a spicy mix of wood/oak spice and freshly cracked black pepper (almost a sweet and spicy peatiness to me). The addition of water softens the smoke and makes it sweeter – vanilla custard. A fairly complex palate that has a smooth mouth feel to it.

Finish: Medium tending to long while being a bitter sweetness (like a very dark chocolate) with a final spiciness at the end.

Overall: As my first introduction to Kilchoman I really enjoyed it and subsequently have tried a few others and can say that overall the offering from Kilchoman is of a very high standard. I particularly enjoyed the slight sweetness that this one brings to the range.

My Score: 85

WhiskyBrother Online Tasting – Twitter Tasting (#WBOT)

I may be a bit late to the party here (see my previous post for reason), but at least this post is still within the same year! So here is my totally true account of what happened at the first ever whisky Tweet Tasting in South Africa, namely the WhiskyBrother Online Tasting, hosted by Marc Pendlebury (aka @WhiskyBrother) at the WhiskyBrother Shop (@WhiskyBroShop) in Hyde Park Shopping Centre in Johannesburg on the 16th April 2014.

WhiskyBrother_Banner_WBOT_The Smoky Dram

The selected lab rats (or should that rather be distillery rats?) for this little Twitter tasting experience, including myself (@TheSmokyDram), were:

WhiskyBrother_Twitter_The Smoky DramWhiskyBrother
@WhiskyBroShop
kojobaffoe_Twitter_The Smoky DramKojo Baffoe
@kojobaffoe
WhiskyGeekSA_Twitter_The Smoky Dram@WhiskyGeekSA AmandaSevasti_Twitter_The Smoky DramAmanda Sevasti
@AmandaSevasti
TheDramDog_Twitter_The Smoky DramBruce Clark
@TheDramDog
Fenyi_Twitter_The Smoky DramOfentse Ruele
@Fenyi
jndub_Twitter_The Smoky DramJacques Du Bruyn
@jndub
ncallegari_Twitter_The Smoky DramNicolas Callegari
@ncallegari
whiskyoftheweek_Twitter_The Smoky DramJohn & Jeanette Wentzel
@whiskyoftheweek
fr1day_Twitter_The Smoky DramMark Hughes
@fr1day

Each of the participants received their four whisky samples, beautifully packaged and that were “hand-crafted in small batches”, put together personally by Marc.

WhiskyBrother_Whisky_The Smoky Dram

Three of the samples were for the official tweet tasting on the evening, while the fourth “mystery dram” was for us to drink and enjoy at our convenience. Though for some people the temptation was too great (*cough* Nic *cough*) and it was consumed on the same evening.

Most tweet tasting are enjoyed from the comfort of your own home, but three brave souls decided to join Marc in store and do the tweet tasting from there. Nic, Kojo and myself were there to give Marc some moral support, enjoy a Locke’s 8yo palate cleanser and to launch Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test’ © 2014 (patent pending).

WhiskyBrother_Shop_WBOT_The Smoky Dram.

As there were no particular formalities on the night, with the only exception being the use of the #WBOT hashtag for all tweets, we were encouraged to be as geeky as we wanted to (Harry Potter fans not withstanding). This lead to some interesting moments and tweets, as you will see below. For each whisky Marc provided a tweet or two with further details before we delved into the nose, palate and finish of the whisky with everyone giving their thoughts. So without a further ado, onto the whiskies that was enjoyed.

 

Kilkerran – Work In Progress 4, NAS with 46% ABV

Kilkerran_Work In Progress 4_The Smoky DramBased in Campbeltown, Kilkerran is derived from the Gaelic ‘Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain’ which is the name of the original settlement where Saint Kerran had his religious cell and where Campbeltown currently stands. The Glengyle distiller (where Kilkerran is produced) was founded in 1872, but closed in 1925. On the 7 March 2004 the distillery reopened, the first in Campbeltown for 125 plus years, and distilled its first spirit again.

Since 2009 the Glengyle distillery started to release their whisky to show the development of the young whisky, hence the name of “Work in Progress”. With that in mind it seems as each new progress release gains a year in maturation, making the Work in Progress 4 around eight years old. It was released in 2012 with only 9000 bottles available worldwide.

Colour: Deep old gold with thick slow legs

Nose: Slightly bready with strong overtones of orange marmalade on toast. There is also a slight hint of stewed pear and burnt sugar as well. The sweetness continues with vanilla and syrup. Background has some sharpness and spiced oranges.

Palate: Starts off with a crisp sweet spiciness, followed by sweet cream, fudge and custard. The middle to back palate has wood spice, touch of pepper with hint citrus fruits. The addition of some water opens it up to more sweetness and cinnamon spiciness.

Finish: That sweet spiciness again with lingering warm cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness with liquorice at the very end.

My Score: 83

Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test’: “Closest I could get to toast was the Crème crackers on the table. Not a good pairing. Consume separately.” & “The “WIP4” stands for “Work in progress 4″. Okes, job done. Bottle that sucker and sell it. But not with Crème Crackers.”

Tweet thoughts from the other distillery rats:  

  • Nose of the #Kilkerran – really pleasant on the nose. Hints of maple syrup/honey. #WBOT – @Fenyi
  • First dram #Kilkerran, beautiful gold in colour, get some orange on the nose #WBOT – @jndub
  • #WBOT Kilkerran WIP 4 Also getting jam or marmalade on the nose, still lots of fresh wood, hint of spice – @WhiskyGeekSA
  • #WBOT #1 vanilla, fresh fruit & oak. Mild spice. Nice body – @whiskyoftheweek
  • #Kilkerran nose: Quite spirituous, alcohol is a bit evident. Probably do well with a drop of water. Some white grape. #WBOT – @WhiskyBroShop
  • Marmalade! I want to dip a piece of toast in this dram! #kilkerran #wbot – @ncallegari
  • Kilkerran WIP4 Palate: Wood spices reminiscent of burnt tinder and cloves, with luscious sweetness kicking in right after #WBOT – @fr1day
  • I like the Kilkerran with a little water. Makes it gently & strangely fuller. Less of a spicy bite #WBOT – @kojobaffoe
  • #WBOT nice long finish with plenty of space at the end – @thedramdog
  • A beautiful long finish which is where the spices really shine. I wasn’t kidding about having hot cross buns with this! #Kilkerran #WBOT – @AmandaSevasti

 

Arran – Port Cask Finish, NAS with 50% ABV

Arran_Port Cask_The Smoky DramAs we all know the oak casks used to mature whisky in are influential to the development of flavour of said whisky. A final and shorter maturation, known as finishing, has become a fairly common place practice these days (since the early 1990’s). Finishing is where the whisky is emptied from its original cask into another cask (of different origin) to add additional flavours.

After initially maturing in traditional ex-bourbon oak casks for approximately 8 years, the Arran Single Malt in this review was finished in the highest quality Port wine casks. Arran’s Master Distiller, James MacTaggart, carefully monitored the period of secondary maturation to ensure the perfect balance is struck between the Port casks and the intrinsic sweet-fruity character of The Arran Malt. This expression was released in 2010.

Colour: Burnished to tawny with long thick legs

Nose: Nutty with dried fruits (trial mix) and some citrus fruits mixed in as well. There is a vanilla sweet dustiness about it mixed in with some caramel. Raisins, winter spices and Xmas cake with cinnamon round out the port part of the nose. Has some woodiness as well with a red berry like character.

Palate: Classic spicy and oily, with fruit (of the stewed variety) and spice combined plus some maltiness thrown in for good measure. Not to mention fruit cake and raisins as well. Water softens it to reveal brown sugar, salty & savoury, citrus fruit spiciness, sweets, dried fruit and cinnamon again.

Finish: Very long and lusty showing the wood and port influence.

My Score: 84

Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test’: “Ok. Crème Cracker test. Much better pairing. If all you can afford this month is this whisky & Crème crackers, life is good.”

Tweet thoughts from the other distillery rats:  

  • I love The Arran caramel-peach colour with a touch of blush. Reminds me of my favourite eyeshadow. #WBOT – @AmandaSevasti
  • #WBOT @Arranwhisky Port Cask Nose: unusual… raisins, slight vanilla, butter, sherbert – @WhiskyGeekSA
  • fruits, chocolate and some sea air #WBOT – @jndub
  • @Arranwhisky Port Cask Nose: Nutty character, apple peel, caramel and a whiff of dessert wine #OBS anyone? 😉 #WBOT – @fr1day
  • Sip. Pour more. Sip. Holy crap this stuff is good. Nuts…in and around my mouth. #arran #wbot- @ncallegari
  • Arran Port Cask palette is soft with honey and jam, some spice and an elegant oily texture #WBOT – @thedramdog
  • #WBOT #2. .@Arranwhisky Palette not as sweet as expected. Fruit cake, dried fruit and spice. We think finish has notes of spice and pepper – @whiskyoftheweek
  • Water has definitely developed the sweet palate of arran port cask.. #WBOT – @Fenyi
  • With a dash of water, sweet and comfortable. It lingers wonderfully. Taste buds do a slight shudder #WBOT – @kojobaffoe
  • @Arranwhisky finish: Slight wood bitterness but then countered with the fruit sweetness. Cereal (barley) notes now. #WBOT – @WhiskyBroShop
  • Advantage of tasting at home – I have Lindt in my cupboard. RT @jndub: #WBOT the Arran will go nicely with some dark chocolate in the mouth – @AmandaSevasti

We even had a tweet from the distillery itself, @Arranwhisky – Love all your comments folks, pleased to see the port Finish going down well! #WBOT

 

Octomore 6.1, 5yo with 57% ABV Scottish Barley

Octomore 6.1_The Smoky DramMost of the heavily-peated whiskies, from the likes of Ardbeg or Laphroaig, have a phenol measure around 50 parts per million (ppm). This Octomore is an astounding 167ppm! One would think that with such an extremely high phenol count it would be so smoky and one-dimensional with little else on offer. That assumption, in this case, is wrong. Though there is that abundance of that beautiful peat smoke, there is also a myriad of other flavours and complexities. That said, it still remains an acquired taste.

Produced by Bruichladdich and released in annual limited batches, 18,000 bottles were released worldwide of the 6.1, this whisky has built up quite the cult following. It is finally available for the first time in South Africa and I know quite a number of peat lovers, myself included, who welcomed this little gem into their collection.

Colour: Deep gold to old gold with very thick and lovely legs.

Nose: Beautiful peat smoke with seaweed, sea salt spray and freshly ground black pepper. There are hints of lemon in the background together with iodine and some burnt fruit cake. It’s like sitting next to a burnt out wood fire at a seaside harbour.

Palate: Simply stunning, with thick treacle/molasses and that lovely peat smokiness that is further interspersed with sea spray saltiness and seaweed that smacks you around some. Sweet oak, freshly ground black pepper and lemon zest backing up the rest of the palate. It’s like licking an alligator charred burnt log* – not that I have tried. Really, I haven’t.

Finish: Very long and lingering, wrapping your mouth in warm sweet smokiness.

My Score: 91

Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test’: “Octtomore Crème Cracker test: *koff* uh…no.” with a reply from Kojo “<- ::looking through watery eyes:: emphatic no.”

* It is hazardous to your health, and not to mention your taste buds, to lick an alligator charred burnt log. It is hazardous for your taste buds as you may develop a taste for it and need to supplement that craving that only Octomore can fill!

Tweet thoughts from the other distillery rats:

  • Now for sample 3. Looks and sounds like a Bond villain. #Octomore 6.1. #wbot – @ncallegari
  • #WBOT #3. OMG. PEAT and as you get up off the ground – boom, more PEAT. Iodine, TCP, medicinal. Classic Islay 🙂 – @whiskyoftheweek
  • #WBOT @Bruichladdich Ocotomore 6.1 Nose : Crisp smoke, salt, bacon, bbq’d meats…now we’re talking!! – WhiskyGeekSA
  • This is some seriously powerful peatiness.. Reluctant to try it with water though. Octomore. #WBOT – @Fenyi
  • @WhiskyBroShop I’m getting some burnt fruit cake on the nose with smoking spices on a weber, a 56cm weber to be exact 😉 #WBOT – @jndub
  • @Bruichladdich #Octomore 6.1 Palate: Strolling along the Islay coast, rotting seaweed, marine air, heather and a damp bonfire #WBOT – @fr1day
  • .@Bruichladdich #Octomore 6.1 Palate; CAUTION: Do not exhale near smoke detectors! I did and mine exploded 😉 #WBOT – @fr1day
  • I feel like Harry Potter just did a smoke spell in my mouth. #Octomore #WBOT – @AmandaSevasti
  • #Octomore finish: It’s rugged & rough but beautiful & serene at the same time. Like sitting on next to the sea as a storm comes in. #WBOT – @WhiskyBroShop
  • Add water to the #octomore and have a sip. Or pour water on a braai and inhale. Whatevs. Same same. #eishwena #wbot – @ncallegari
  • I could happily sit on my patio on a winter’s night with a deep glass of the #Octomore & solve the world’s problems @Bruichladdich #WBOT – @kojobaffoe
  • #Octomore 6.1 Quote “Like a woman with a whip. You have to approach cautiously!” #WBOT – @TheSmokyDram

 

“Mystery Dram”

Was meant to be enjoyed at our own time, but some were just too eager, as shown by the following exchange:

So…what’s the deal with the mystery dram? Now or now now? @WhiskyBroShop #wbot – @ncallegari

I snuck a knertsjie of the Mystery Dram. Light. No smoke. Full of vanilla. Like hot ice cream. What is it @WhiskyBroShop? #wbot – @ncallegari

@ncallegari The mystery dram is a… <close your eyes fellow #WBOT members>… @glenfarclas 12yo – @WhiskyBroShop

You can read my review of this whisky here.

Final words
It was a great first South African tweet tasting experience with a cracking selection from WhiskyBrother Marc. A very big thank you has to go out to Marc Pendlebury from WhiskyBrother Shop, not only for hosting us, but putting up with the deluge of questions and geekiness from us. Further thanks are also needed for Kilkerran, Arran and Bruichladdich (Octomore) for making the brilliant whiskies that they do.My favourite from the tasting was the Octomore 6.1 and it seemed to be the favourite for the majority of the tasters. That being said all three are brilliant whiskies in their own right and for different instances. So Marc, the question we all have now is when is the next one?

I will leave the final word for Marc – “Again, thank you all so much! It has been a pleasure and honour having you be part of our, & #SouthAfrica’s, first online tasting! 🙂 #WBOT”

Sláinte
Edward

Bunnahabhain 18 YO

The name Bunnahabhain is Gaelic for ‘Mouth of the River’ and refers to the Margadale River. The location of the distillery was chosen mainly because it is easily accessible from the mainland by boat. Furthermore, Bunnahabhain is one of the gentler single malt Islay whiskies available and its taste varies greatly from other spirits to be found on the island of Islay by being notably a less-peated dram.

Bunnahabhain_18_The Smoky DramWhisky: Bunnahabhain 18, 46.3 ABV (Cost around R940)

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 Years

The Bunnahabhain Distillery was founded in 1881 near Port Askaig on Islay. The village of Bunnahabhain was also established in 1881 to house the distillery’s workers, and the distillery still employs the majority of the village’s workers. In 2010 Bunnahabhain increases the proof of their official bottlings from 40% or 43% to 46.3% ABV. And in 2013 Burn Stewart Distillers (the owners of the Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory distilleries) was sold by CL Financial to Distell from South Africa for £160 million.

The 18 year old is a comparatively recent release from Bunnahabhain and this single malt has been matured in an approximate mix of 40% ex-sherry and 60% ex-bourbon casks for 18 years. It was recently re-introduced as an un-chillfiltered spirit at a higher strength of 46.3% and the packaging has been slightly revised to complement the new expression. The label highlights the move to natural colour and un-chillfiltered.

Colour: Deep burnished gold with slow forming and many thick legs.

Nose: Caramelised nuts and toffee sweetness with some seaside saltiness. Also picking up notes of Christmas cake, sherried dried fruit and cinnamon. On the slight side of things there are hints of salty brininess, woodiness and malt cereal. And finally in the furthest reaches of the background a very gently smoke lingers.

Palate: Very smooth with a mellow spiciness bite. Attractive wood spice (tip of tongue burn), that seaside saltiness once again and malty. There is also fruit sweetness (pears) to it. Again some of that very gentle smoke hanging in the background. The palate completely coats one’s mouth.

Finish: Long with lingering sweet spiciness that ends in a salty, yet fruity, and dry finish. With the barest of gentle smoke at the end.

Overall: A very nicely balanced whisky with the lovely mixture between spice and fruit sweetness. The smoke is also there, but very faint and you have to go looking for it, to round it out.

My Score: 87

Laphroaig Live 2013 – New York

Laphroaig, the Whisky That Never Sleeps. On the 26th September 2013 the seventh annual Laphroaig Live will be broadcast live from New York City. The show times are:

8pm New York
1am (27th) London
2am (27th) South Africa
8am (27th) Hong Kong

Laphroaig Live_Smoky DramThe venue for the evening is an original Hudson River Barge which, at over 99 years old, has seen cargo come and go into New York for almost a century. While the barge was taking its cargo into port, Ian Hunter – the last family owner of Laphroaig – was introducing the world to the now famous whisky. Legend has it he even introduced it to the USA during Prohibition by convincing authorities of its “medicinal” purposes!

An expert panel of guests will explore the strong ties between America and Laphroaig, stepping back in time to the era of Prohibition and tracing its heritage through to the booming whisky cocktail scene it helped create.

The panel is lead, as usual, by Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell and accompanied by Bourbon Ambassador Adam Harris, the renowned Michael J. Neff, Mixologist and Founder of Ward III and cocktail and spirit enthusiast Kevin Sintumuang, web editor of GQ .

They’ll look first to the fastest growing Laphroaig expression, the Quarter Cask, matured in barrels similar to those used in the early days of the distillery. To contrast this, the panelists will sample the latest expression, Laphroaig QA, which uses the American style of maturation. They will compare it to the classic American bourbon from sister distillery, Maker’s 46. The final expression will be the remarkable Cairdeas 2013, bottled for the Friends of Laphroaig. This unique expression used Port Wood for part of its maturation, resulting in an extraordinary taste and colour.

As the show is live from New York, the home of the cocktail, we will have one of the city’s finest bartenders creating some exciting cocktails using Laphroaig in a very different way. As it is also a live online whisky tasting, a studio audience of Friends of Laphroaig will join the tens of thousands of Laphroaig fans worldwide in what’s set to be a phenomenal event!

You can follow by joining online at www.laphroaig.com/live to take part in this live tasting session on Thursday 26th September 2013 at 20:00 EST.

Furthermore, if you wish to submit questions before the show, submit them by going to the following link: Laphroaig Live Questions.

Sláinte
Edward
The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Ardbeg day 2013 is Ardbog day

The time is very near for that special day each year that Ardbeggians celebrate – Ardbeg Day! For this year it is to be known as Ardbog day – 1st June 2013.

And in celebration for this day The Smoky Dram now sports a fetching Ardbeg green link colour scheme.

Ardbeg’s Ardbog Day

ArdbogDay_The Smoky Dram

Rai Banbury, senior brands manager, says, “The Islay Ardbeg Festival has become a key date in the calendar of malt whisky lovers worldwide. Every year Ardbeg creates a unique and fun way for our Ardbeg fans to celebrate Ardbeg and the much anticipated limited edition release.” This latest limited edition release is called Ardbog and will be released on ‘Ardbog Day’.

The name Ardbog was chosen to highlight the peat bogs of Ardbeg’s island home Islay and the part they play in the whisky making process. The unique peat bogs contain highly aromatic plants that when used to dry malted barley gives Ardbeg whiskies their distinctive smoky flavour.

Ardbog has deep, enticing waves of pecan nuts, salty toffee & caramels, fudge, leather and a distinct whiff of herbs, lavender and violets. The smoke is soft and aromatic, and is interwoven with savoury notes, like Iberico ham (de bellota) and olives.

South Africa’s Ardbog Day and first African Ardbeg Embassy

We all dig PEAT! South Africa will celebrate all things peaty with the launch of the first African Ardbeg Embassy, Wild About Whisky, on world Ardbog day. This will be an opportunity for current and future Ardbeggians to comPEAT in some uniquely Ardbeg activities. The shinDIG will begin with an Ardbeg procession starting on main road at the Cricket oval (in Dullstroom) at 12:00. Do not rePEAT this as there are only 100 tickets available – which sadly are all Sold Out!

Unfortunately the other Ardbeg day event in South Africa (of which I know) is also Sold Out! This event is being hosted in Johannesburg by WhiskyBrother Shop and this event promises Ardbeg shenanigans and a chance to sample some very special Ardbeg drams. I was very fortunate to book in time for this and shall report on the special drams and any shenanigans that may happen with photographic evidence where possible.

I find it encouraging that both South African events sold out so quickly, both virtually within only a couple of days from the announcements being made by the respective hosts. The other promising point is the launch of first African Ardbeg Embassy. Hopefully this will result in more exposure for Ardbeg in South Africa and more importantly enable more Ardbeg whisky expressions to make its way to SA! Currently the only expression commercially available here the Ardbeg 10YO.

Sláinte
Edward

The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Ardbeg 10yo

My 10th review (and 20th post)! This is to be the last, for now at least, review of a 10 year old whisky. Since this is The Smoky Dram and I have a slight (so slight it is hardly noticeable) bias towards the Islay malts, this review will be on the Ardbeg 10. And just in time for Ardbeg day too! Although this year it is called Ardbog day.

Ardbeg_10_The Smoky Dram

Whisky: Ardbeg 10, 46% ABV (Cost around R580)

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 10 Years

Ardbeg prides itself on being the ‘Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky’. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered around the world as one of the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts. Despite this heavy peaty smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as ‘the peaty paradox’.

Ardbeg is certainly one of the peatiest whiskies around and that is also available in South Africa. In 2008 it was awarded World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and in 2010 it was awarded Gold (Best in Class) in the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). It also features fairly often as a Sub Category Winner in the World Whisky Awards (for Peated Islay under 12 YO).

For the fans of Ardbeg they can join The Ardbeg Committee. It’s a quirky fact that Islay, with a population of just 3000, has more than 140 Committees, with the biggest one of all being The Ardbeg Committee (with a worldwide membership of over 50,000). The members of this committee, no matter how near or far, share a common purpose; to celebrate the re-awakening of Ardbeg, spread the word and dispense drams to those deprived of knowledge of this untamed spirit.

Colour: Pale straw to pale gold.

Nose: A wonderfully intense peat smoked nose, but a clean fruity peaty smoke that is followed by smoky citrus fruits (limes and lemons), smouldered fish and bacon, almonds, salt, brine and hints of dark chocolate. Has a lovely sea air minerality to it, as if you walked by the harbour or taken a stroll on Islay. Complex and sophisticated,

Palate: Zesty citrus burst on tip of tongue (lovely spicy burn) with pepper, cinnamon, citrus fruits (but smoky), smoked meats savouriness with hints of sweetness (apple orchards), briny. Sharp with initial flash of peat that leaves a beautiful smokiness at the back of your mouth. Palate is clean and crisp and pretty much continues what you got on the nose. Strikingly balanced with a smooth mouth feel.

Body: Full bodied with very many thick and lovely legs

Finish: Sweet spiciness that is tongue tingling with a lingering smokiness at the back of it that is very long. It lingers long after you have finished it.

Overall: Another one of those either you love it or hate it kind of drams with little to no middle ground. This is a powerful yet smooth peated dram with huge smoke that also has an underlying sweetness to it. Just begs for more and a fantastic dram for me.

 

My Score: 88

Islay flashback

I recently read a blog post on ScotchBlog about their pilgrimage to Lagavulin. It reminded me of my trip to Scotland and Islay that I undertook in July 2011. This trip was before my current whisky passion, which was unfortunate for me but not so for my wife.

Then there was a very informative Twit conversation between ScotchBlog (@scotchblog), WhiskyBrother (@WhiskyBrother) and myself (@TheSmokyDram), with maybe just a wee bit TMI from WhiskyBrother.

All this helped me have a little Islay flashback. However, unlike the weather ScotchBlog had, where “the sun shone down gloriously from a pristine blue sky”, the weather I had been decidedly more overcast, windy and misty (as my two photos below will show) – perfect to have a dram or two to steel yourself for the next walk outside.

Back to the Twit conversation and the one question that came up was around if you could return to your favourite whisky destination/place/memory. For me the answer was not so easy. Once the various voices and personalities battled it out in my head, two remained victorious as my favourite of favourite places on Islay. The first was the Whisky Distillery that got me started on my whisky passion and will always hold a special place in my collection, Laphroaig:

Laphroaig_Smoky Dram_Arnold Photography

This was followed very closely by the other distillery that brings back many a great memories for me, Ardbeg, with their fiery peaty whiskies:

Ardbeg_Smoky Dram_Arnold Photography

These pictures and fond memories now make me want to return, and I know that I will one day return to that wonderful spiritual home many of us call Islay.

What are your memories of Islay? Let me know in comments below.

Sláinte
Edward

 The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Bowmore launches Tempest 4

bowmore-logo-smBowmore, Islay’s first Single Malt whisky, has announced the launch of Tempest 4 their next small batch release. It is non-chill-filtered and aged for a decade (in the legendary No 1 Vaults) in first fill bourbon casks. Less than 2,000 cases have been released worldwide.

The Tempest 4 has been described by Master Blender Rachel Barrie “Effervescent waves of citrus and ocean spice, tempered by warm ripples of smooth vanilla and wispy smoke”.

It has been bottled at 55.1% ABV. The RRP in UK for this release is £49.99 (around R700).

Tempest 4 is available from May.

For more information as well as the tasting notes for this new release, please visit the source link below.

News source – http://www.whiskyintelligence.com/2013/04/bowmore-islay-single-malt-scotch-whisky-launches-bowmore-tempest-4-scotch-whisky-news/

Some Bowmore information (from http://www.bowmore.com):

  • Founded over two centuries ago in 1779 and is the oldest Distillery on Islay.
  • Bowmore’s legendary No. 1 Vaults is the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland and the only one below sea level.
  • One of only a handful of distilleries to still produce its own floor malted barley. Every 4 hours, the barley is hand turned by their Maltmen using traditional wooden malt shovels and hand drawn machinery.
  • Their malt is smoked in a peat-fired kiln.

Laphroaig 10yo

I thought to start my review of whiskies’ section with the whisky that started it all for me, the Laphroaig 10yo

Laphroaig 10yo Smoky DramWhisky: Laphroaig 10, 43% ABV (Cost around R500)

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 10 Years

Laphroaig, pronounced “La-froyg”, is a Gaelic word meaning “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay”. A very characteristic Islay dram. Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of the Prince of Wales. It was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery in 1994.

Colour: Sparkling burnished gold

Nose: Oodles of camp fire and smoke, sea weedy and salty sea air (harbour and fishing nets), spices, medicinal with a lovely back hint of caramel sweetness. Despite all the smoke on the nose it is a very clean nose – cool clean smoke.

Palate: Loads of smoke and peat with hints of sweetness, sea salt and seaweed (fishing nets again), oak wood, has a spiciness (black pepper) and richness about it

Body: Full bodied, gorgeous thick and slow legs with an explosion of peat when you swallow.

Finish: Gorgeous with long and lingering savoury smokiness. Very satisfying.

Overall: For me an undeniably wonderful dram. It has enormous smoke and peat, manages a hint of sweetness and yet also has a cleanness and delicateness about it. This is an either you love it or hate it kind of dram, there is no middle ground. For me – I absolutely love it.

My Score: 89