As a fan of Islay I was really excited to try these 3 fantastic single malts from these legendary distilleries.
First up was the Laphroaig Triple Wood 40%.
Bottled at 48%, this Laphroaig is a non-chill filtered whisky meaning the whisky retains its original colour, aromas and taste. This expression of Laphroaig, from the remote island of Islay in the Western Isles of Scotland, has enjoyed a triple maturation in 3 types of cask. Just as with the standard Quarter Cask expression, the first maturation is in American oak, ex-Bourbon Barrels. Next, the most suitable of these barrels are carefully selected, each of which containing a range of different aged spirit before being transferred into a small 19th Century style Quarter Casks for a second maturation. The final maturation is in specially selected, large European oak, Oloroso Sherry Casks. It is bottled at 48% ABV and is non-chill filtered for a depth of taste and texture. Here are the tasting notes to get your taste buds tingling :
Colour: Bright gold.
Nose: Initially a sweet hint with a gentle mixture of sweet raisins and creamy apricots with a trace of dry peat smoke at the back. Smooth nutty flavours combine all these flavours into one smooth, syrupy whole.
Palate: A large initial burst of peat which is then gentled on the tongue by the creamier flavours of vanilla and fruit with just a suggestion of sherry sweetness. Add water and the peat is gentled, allowing more complex flavours of citrus and spice to come through.
Finish: Mouth filling and extremely long but balanced by the sweet smooth caramel taste.
The next Islay malt was the Lagavulin Distillers Edition. From the Lagavulin distillery on the island of Islay comes this fantastic Distillers Edition, a superb single malt which has been maturing since 1997 and enjoyed a finishing period in Pedro Ximénez cask before finally being bottled in 2013.
Thick and honeyed with characteristic smoky notes, these Distillers Editions from Lagavulin are always an excellent excuse to crack open a box of dark chocolates alongside your whisky after dinner.
Nose: Smoked, woody aromas of truffle oak, allspice and dry hay with a hint of nutmeg, delicious rum and raisin ice cream before finally prunes.
Palate: Smoked prune juice, porcini mushroom. A rich taste of christmas cake with a nice helping of rum and rich chocolate.
Finish: Demerara rum, cocoa powder and black pepper.
Overall: Very rich and beautifully balanced.
My final tasting, and this one really did get my attention as this one is the darkest expression from Ardbeg!
Dark Cove is a limited-edition whisky released on 28 May in honour of Ardbeg Day 2016 – the distillery’s open day as part of the yearly Islay Festival.
The Darkest Ardbeg ever, take this whisky and hide it well. For its heart has been matured in a combination of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, this whisky is smoky and spicy imparting waves of treacle toffee, coal tar, squid ink noodles and toasted coffee grounds.
Colour: Copper stills in moonlight
Nose: Dark chocolate, rich treacle toffee and distant bonfires – betrays a secret: a clandestine meeting of Ardbeg matured in exBourbon casks and a heart matured in dark sherry casks.
Palate: Hints of pepper spice and zesty lime lure you in. Smouldering charcoal and wood with raisins, dates and ginger emerging from shadows of tarry creosote.
Finish: Echoes of cured smoked ham and squid ink noodles signal the arrival of a long, spicy aftertaste.
I know all you Islay fans out there will share my enthusiasm and I hope you get to try these true legends!