Trying to give Smokehead a chance….

So we tried Smokehead once before – the Rock edition. To say that it didn’t impress the Whisky Ladies is putting it mildly. While we are always curious to try different things and no strangers to peat, ashtray is generally not our preferred style.

However when approached by the folks over at Ian MacLeod distillery suggesting their standard Smokehead is more accessible than the Rock edition, I didn’t have the heart to refuse their rather sincere representative, though did warn him our tasting would be unbiased and honest.

The little Smokehead mini sat patiently waiting for many months until finally one evening it was time to try a range of peat whiskies. Thus was born the evening of minis of a peaty persuasion – Peat Chimney 12 year 40%Big Peat 46%Longrow 46%BenRiach Peated Quarter Cask 46%Ledaig 10 year 46.3%. Smokehead came along for the ride but the others politely but firmly declined.

What to do with our poor rebuffed Smokehead sample? Try try try again… finally a fateful evening occurred when Smokehead finally was cracked open.

Smokehead 40%

  • Nose – Sweet smoky “breathable” want pulled port, braised steak craving, cinnamon, sweet BBQ rub
  • Palate – Watered down, then ash tray, came out as oddly flat
  • Finish – Queer finish, almost off

Our conclusion “All talk, no action”… in other words the nose was more promising than the palate.

Full disclosure – this sample was provided by the folks at Ian McLeod.

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Laphroaig vs Laphroaig

It used to be when you thought ‘peat’ you thought of Islay and likely the mighty Laphroaig…. its thick, tar and rubber quality with seaweed, iodine which stands up to say ‘Hello Islay peat!’ This quality puts it firmly on the favoured ‘hit list’ of true die hard peat lovers.

Whisky lovers will also often share their whisky preference arch… often starting with easy drinkable blends, then graduating to ‘gateway’ commercial single malts and then somewhere along the way while exploring various single malts getting their mind and taste buds absolutely blown away by something completely peaty!

Some remain in their ‘peat phase’ for a long time… others evolve beyond that while still harbouring a special place in their whisky heart for the first peat punch that hit their palate.

After an early flirtation with Laphroaig, I moved on to others quite quickly. However I will never forget the ‘silver seal’ Laphroaig 16 (1987) that I sampled… it was distinctly different than what I’d come to expect with a soft, sweet, almost flowery quality with initially just a curl of smoke before revealing its peatiier nature.

So when I saw several newer Laphroaig’s were playing around with different elements was quite excited! Smartly, took advantage of samples available at the Singapore duty free which were promoting their new PX Cask thinking it may reveal some of that sweeter, lighter and almost teasing quality I found with the 1987. They were also freely offering the An Cuan Mor meaning ‘Big Ocean’ for its proximity to the ocean.

Short answer is I passed on the Laphroaigs and surprisingly (to me!) acquired without a pre-tasting a boxed set exploring the underlying single malt elements in Ballantine’s 17 year. The challenge with those split second airport decisions is you know you are not truly giving the whisky a proper chance so I was delighted the PX made a re-appearance in a recent tasting session.

Our host very kindly pulled out the standard Laphroaig 10 year to compare. In a quick nip had the impression of:

  • Nose – Tar and rubber sweet
  • Palate – Distinctly Laphroaig sweet peat with that edge of seaweed iodine
  • Finish – More sweet peat
  • Water – Are you kidding? Nooooo!

That was when I realized how spoilt we’ve become in recent years with cask strength whiskies… And if not cask strength, then tending towards higher strength rather than the standard entry level whisky at 40%. Far from the ‘in your face’ peat I remembered, the 10 year seemed a tad weak though clearly peated.

When sampled next to the PX, suddenly discovered in the PX that I had earlier missed… by contrast it has a much sweeter quality and could clearly discern the sherry stamp.


And what do the folks over at Laphroaig have to say about their PX?

  • COLOUR: Antique Gold
  • NOSE: From the bottle there is a nice sherry aroma of sweet sultanas and raisins with a hint of sweet liquorice and only the slightest tang of peat. Adding a little water brings out the marzipan and almond aroma with a counterpoint of creamy nuts and lots of ripe fruits but again there’s only the slightest tang of peat smoke.
  • BODY: An intense and profound deepness
  • PALATE: Without water a massive explosion of peat fills the mouth with huge amounts of oakiness only just moderated by the sweeter heavy sherry flavour. Adding a touch of water only slightly moderates the massive peat reek which very slowly fades and just allows a little of the sweeter sherried flavours to come through although there is always that burst of peat smoke that dries the mouth.
  • FINISH: Concentrated peat and thick sherried oak with a deep dryness

What did we think in our initial tasting? Read related posts here:

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Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

Kilchoman is one of those distilleries to watch… years ago they effectively pushed the boundaries of complexity for a YOUNG Islay whisky. And just keep getting better and better. The travel retail exclusive Coull Point is a current ‘everyday dram’ favourite. I’m eagerly awaiting an opportunity to try their 10 year anniversary whisky.

At the 2015 IWSC Awards, Machir Bay won gold, it also won best Islay under 12 year at the 2015 Scotch Whisky masters and boasts of many other recognitions.

My sampling journey with Machir Bay is:

  • First sampled blind as part of our regular monthly tastings in Sept 2013
  • Part of a delightful food – whisky pairing with Kilchoman Distillery owner and master distiller – Anthony Willis and his wife in 2014
  • During a convivial evening in Singapore in Dec 2015

The Singapore evening prompted me to pull out from our archives the 2013 tasting notes… which was sampled together with the Glenturret 10 year and Auchentoshan 14 year Cooper’s Reserve.

Glenturret, Auchentoshan Cooper's Reserve, Kilchoman Machir Bay

Here is what we found then…

Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

  • Colour – Light gold in colour
  • Nose – Such a contrast from the earlier whiskies (Glenturret & Auchentoshan), bold, rubber, smoky, burnt wood and ash on nose
  • Taste – Carried through on palate with a woodsy strength tempered by a sweeter undertone, a difficult to identify element like soft over-ripe dried fruit
  • Finish – A lingering rich charcoal finish which prompted some debate on its age – some qualities of a younger whisky yet refreshingly complex as one would more typically find in an older whisky
  • Water – Add a little water and it bloomed further – bringing out both the sweet and spice with the warmth of burnt wood remaining

There was a challenge in pinpointing this offering – the peat was too subtle for a Laphroaig and didn’t quite fit the qualities of other Islay mainstays – however the region was guessed spot on!

Also aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in sherry butts like the Cooper’s Reserve, it is far more robust. Machir Bay captures the senses and was the clear favourite – even paired post dinner with chocolate. To learn it is available in India and not ridiculously expensive – my oh my we lucky folks!

Each sample was a contrast and unique. Interestingly, all improved with a few drops of water whether lowland (Auchentoshan), highland (Glenturret) or islay (Kilchoman)! Slainthe!

For those curious, here’s what the folks over at The Vault Fine Spirits (based in Mumbai) have to say about Kilchoman Machir Bay:

Machir Bay, a heavily peated (50 PPM) whisky, is a vatting of 4 and 5 year old ex-bourbon casks, with the 4 year being finished in oloroso sherry butts for 4 weeks prior to bottling. Machir Bay was named ‘Whisky of the Year 2013’ at the International Whisky Competition.

Tasting Notes: The Machir Bay starts with a nose of soft cooked fruits with strong peaty aromas which in turn leads to a palate of mixed fruits and vanilla with an intense sweetness before a long lingering finish.

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Kilchoman Coull Point NAS 46%

Kilchoman may be a young whisky distillery, however it is making its mark.

Our merry malt group were fortunate to sample the Kilchoman Machir Bay and 100% Islay… long before I was disciplined about writing tasting notes. We even had an opportunity to meet the master distiller Anthony Willis and his delightful wife for dinner in Mumbai for a marvellous pairing of these whiskies that could hold their own with desi khanna (that’s Indian food folks!).

So on my last chance to grab a bottle at Heathrow Airport, the quite reasonably priced Coull Point caught my eye.

And when we decided the kick off a kick @$$ whisky women evening, it seemed fitting to bring along the Kilchoman.

Kilchoman Coull Point (Table For One)

Kilchoman Coull Point (Table For ONE)

Kilchoman Coull Point NAS 46%

  • Colour – Pale straw
  • Nose – Needs to breathe if just opened (unless you enjoy chloroform!), then the most gorgeous sea breeze, salty, briny, peat, a little sour curd… after some time sweeter fruity elements emerge, a little vanilla
  • Taste – A touch of cinnamon spice then sweet, citrusy or pear, then just cranks up the sweet, replacing the cinnamon spice with cinnamon candy like those red heart candies, increasingly softer the more it opens
  • Finish – Bold yet smooth, a hint of spice and that woodsy peaty breath
  • Water – Yes please! While it doesn’t need it, brings back the zing on the palate and awash of sea breeze
  • Overall – A mighty fine dram. It may be young, but it transports one to a beatifull bonfire on a beach.

I love one of our merry lasses (TableForOne) tweeted about the Coull Point:

This ‪#‎Kilchoman‬ is like a kiss on the beach, snuggled up against a bonfire.

Yup! Sounds about right!

While I will admit at the end of the evening my hand reached for the Compass Box Asyla, it was in part as I knew this baby was coming home with me.

It would be interesting to revisit the Machir Bay, 100% Islay with Coull Point. While my memory was overall positive for the others, I have a funny feeling there is something more with Coull Point… just a few baby steps further into the territory of more complex nuanced whiskies… Bottom line, these folks are on to a good thing!

Coull Point (Whisky Lady)

Coull Point (Whisky Lady)

Like all Kichoman expressions, there is a story behind the name. In this case, Coull Point is half a mile north from the distillery on Machir Bay, described as a “rugged outcrop of rocks on the west coast of the Island.”

The box notes share it is a vatting of 4 to 5 year single malt, matured in fresh bourbon barrels, with the 4 year old finished in oloroso sherry butts for 4 weeks prior to bottling.

What the Kilchoman folks have to say:

  • Colour – Light beech
  • Nose – Soft cooked fruits with strong peaty aromas
  • Palate – Soft mixed fruits and vanilla with an intense sweetness
  • Finish – A classic Islay malt now showing the benefit of additional ageing. A long lingering finish.

And here’s what others say:

Kilchoman Coull Point 46% (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman Coull Point 46% (Whisky Lady)

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Caol Ila 12 vs Caol Ila 12

Not so long ago, we had an opportunity to enjoy a special bottling of Caol Ila 1997 from Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice range. Bottled in 2009, this made the delightful whisky a 12 year…

Which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to pull out my standard Caol Ila 12 year for a proper tasting for quite some time. If you can believe it, a bottle has been kicking around my whisky cabinet at the ready to join an impromptu party or sociable occasion for more than a year… seriously.

Much as I enjoy a good dram in convivial settings, when it comes to tasting notes, I prefer focusing on the whisky alone either in a very small group of fellow whisky aficionados or solo. And for whatever inexplicable reason, those moments haven’t turned attention to my neglected Caol Ila.

Until a few nights ago on my own and again last night at an insanely enjoyable inaugural ‘Whisky Ladies’ evening in Mumbai.

Caol Ila 12 year (Whisky Lady)

Caol Ila 12 year (Whisky Lady)

Caol Ila 12 year 43%

  • Colour – Bright cheerful yellow straw
  • Nose – Honey, lemon, vanilla, a curl of peat, pear, a little curd
  • Palate – Welcome to the embrace of our old pal peat! A little spice, some sea salt to accompany the smoke, there is subtle substance to the body, a little oil, simple enveloping you in whisky warmth
  • Finish – Yes it is there… smokey, peppery yet surprisingly soft too
  • Water – Can add a drop or two but not necessary

I find the Caol Ila 12 one of those absolutely dependable and under-rated Islay whiskies. It has that characteristic peaty element however without the dramatic boldness found in some Islays. While more subdued, it is also more balanced.

In short, it is one you can reach out for and simply enjoy.

And I realised anew why this whisky was one of my early staples… as in back in the day when I’d had little exposure to the world of whisky. Blame the Caol Ila among a few others for getting me hooked on to exploring more about this elixir of the gods.

I also can see why this whisky appeals to a desi palate… after all it is a key element in the ever popular Indian favourite Johnnie Walker Black Label. And if any of you remember that vatted malt Green Label? Yup! Once again – think Caol Ila.

As for the Gordon & MacPhail bottle that prompted my pulling out this Caol Ila for a revisit? Believe it or not I had a few wee drops squirrelled away just to compare.

Without a doubt the same family, however the Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 12 year is a more mellow, more complex, more nuanced single malt and takes everything I enjoy about Caol Ila and makes it more exquisitely etched… like bringing an appealing slightly blurry photo into rich focus.

Here’s what others say about the Caol Ila 12 year:

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Caol Ila 1997 43% (Gordon + McPhail Connoisseurs Choice)

After an organic experiment from Bruichladdich and the Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine expression, our Islay tour came to a close with a special Caol Ila from Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice range.

Caol Ila 1997 (Whisky Lady)

Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 1997 (Whisky Lady)

Caol Ila Sept 1997 (bottled 2009) 43% (Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice)

  • Colour – lovely pale gold
  • Nose – Peat – not in a crazy overwhelming way but very much present with a light touch. A nice smoked kabab, more smoked meats, then a delightful perfume, caramel, charcoal. That insanely yummy distinct indescribable ‘yum’ malty quality with hints of brine.
  • Palate – Initially a lot of caramel, charcoal, a strong decisive character, oily, then dry, bitter, ashy warm, like curling up next to a warm fireplace kinda feel, opens up further and meeeeeellllooow, rich robust, complex and ever so smooth
  • Finish – While doesn’t have that crazy mature OMG finish, still ever so nice, long and oh so good with a little herbal flourish
  • Water – Loved it without and loved it with.. sweater, custard, creamy

Naturally, when we began our sniffing, sipping and savouring, it was completely blind.

Given the theme of the evening, our speculation immediately turned to different Islay distilleries – Laphroig? Lagavulin..? Caol Ila…???! With most favouring Caol Ila

However it was equally clear this was a special expression, eventually most concluded it might be from an independent bottler like Gordon MacPhail.

With the unveiling, there was an exuberant ‘Yeaaaas!!’ feeling rather smug in our guessing prowess – at least on this evening.

Our overall impression was that this is simply gorgeous 12 year old… with comments like “This is my next buy!” and “This is what ALL Caol Ila’s should taste like!” could be heard.

As an added experiment, I pulled out the standard Caol Ila 12 year expression – while clearly the same family, not in the same league.

Here are what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say:

Caol Ila 1997 (Whisky Lady)

Without water

  • Nose – Hints of sweet cured ham, with a subtle ashy nose. Sweet honey influences, with a delicate malt note.
  • Taste – Some delicate brine, with a rounded sea air influence. A warmth lingers and delicate peat embers develop.

And with water:

  • Nose – Sweet and fresh, a more delicate sweet cured nose, the ash is now more pronounced, with a lingering smoke.
  • Taste – Some cigar ash, with a rounded sweetness. Delicate salt influences and fresh.

So there you have it… another fine evening with a trio of single malts from the Islay region.

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Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine (Morning Sky) NAS, Batch 1, 46.3%

This month, our merry malt explorers were treated to a unique trio of Islay whiskies – familiar distilleries with unfamiliar expressions.

We followed our standard blind tasting format, only revealing the whisky after sniffing, sipping, swishing, speculating and more.

1st up was a Bruichladdich experiment with organic barley.

Next? Read on…

Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine (Whisky Lady)

Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine (Whisky Lady)

Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine (Morning Sky), batch no 1, 46.3%
  • Colour – Rose gold
  • Nose – 1st impression is very sweet, but seems like it is hiding, a medicinal element with one exclaiming “I would love to have a headache with  this!” Seems a bit oily, smells like fermented rice or dosa paste, after more airing the nose settles on being sweet, sweet and sweet as in candy sweet
  • Taste – Quite a light whisky, a bit shallow then surprises with something coming from behind – like winey grape peel or chewing on a jasmine or rose petal, sweet like gulkand (rose petal jam), a bit of sea salt
  • Finish – There but…
  • Water – The oiliness goes away, simply flattened the whisky and wouldn’t recommend adding
  • Overall impression – Not so complex, no peat, an easy drinking whisky that remains at a ‘surface’ level with the flirtatious wine / rose petal an interesting element
Speculation ran rife with this one. Seemed as thought it likely had a sherry or wine finish. Some thought the age was at most a 10 year, most opting for NAS.  Then the distillery guessing game began, rapidly narrowing to non-peated Islay with Bunnahabhain leading the pack!
With the unveiling, our host for the evening was maha impressed with Bunnahabhain guesses and the winey / rose element.
Bunnahabhain (Whisky Lady)

Bunnahabhain (Whisky Lady)

  • Eirigh Na Greine (pronounced Ae-ree ne gray-nyuh and meaning ‘Morning Sky’ in Gaelic) is an alluringly complex small-batch single malt Scotch whisky containing a significant proportion of high-quality ex-red wine cask-matured Bunnahabhain whiskies of various ages.
  • Our Master Distiller has perfected the recipe to ensure that Bunnahabhain’s signature taste, which includes roasted nuts and fruits with hints of sea salt and smoke, is further enhanced by sweet, rich and spicy aromas imparted by the Italian and French red wine influence.
  • The influence of the ex-red wine matured whiskies results in a multifaceted tasting experience, with luscious notes of rich fruits, boiled sweets and spicy effervescence.
Official tasting notes:
  • Appearance – Pale bronze
  • Nose – Rich dried fruits, toasted hazelnuts with hints of mouth-watering candy sweets, butterscotch, marzipan and rose syrup
  • Palate – Lively and satisfyingly smooth. A tantalising fusion of ripe cherries, prunes, apricots, orange marmalade with subtle hints of rich cocoa and spicy oakiness
  • Finish – Temptingly warm, nutty and spicy
Other whiskies sampled in our August session included:
August Tasting Trio

August Islay Tasting Trio (Whisky Lady)

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Bruichladdich and the organic option – The Organic Scottish Barley NAS 50%

A muggy August evening brought our merry malt explorers together for a treat of three unique Islay whiskies. Each came from a familiar distillery yet were new expressions to tempt our palate.

We followed our standard blind tasting format, only revealing the whisky after sniffing, sipping, swishing, speculating and more.

So what did we find?

Bruichladdich The Organic Scottish Barley NAS 50%

Bruichladdich The Organic Scottish Barley NAS 50% (Whisky Lady)

Bruichladdich ‘The Organic Scottish Barley’ NAS 50%

  • Colour – Light yellow straw
  • Nose – Imli (tamarind), yet also a classic Scottish quality, fruit basket, very light, a kind of desert sweet, slight olive brine, as it continued to air an overwhelming sweet overripe bananas emerged
  • Taste – Initially a tingly spice, very dry and khatta (sour) with cinnamon, a bit prickly, then grew more and more  bitter, a little brine or sour curd, after some time the spice nearly disappeared
  • Finish – Bitter spice
  • Water – Even more bitter that without a drop or two, then mellows
  • Overall impression – While clearly young, has character and very interesting. Something a bit ‘different’ and while the tasting notes may not seem appealing, was actually quite lovely.
Unveiling – A Bruichladdich experiment with organic barley in a unpeated Islay – a very original choice!!
The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

The Organic Scottish Barley (Whisky Lady)

Official blurb about the expression:
  • In Victorian times, when Bruichladdich Distillery was built, all Scottish barley was organically grown. The relationship between distiller, farmer and soil was intimate and enduring. These ties were lost as industrialised farming cut through ancient synergies and an age of super efficient blandness was born.
  • In partnership with our organic farmers – Sir William Roberts of Mains of Tullibardine, William Rose at Mid Coull and Neil Scobie at Coulmore – we are rediscovering these synergies. We believe relationships matter. Once again, land and dram united.
  • Character – An elegant, composed and stylishly vibrant spirit that showcases the absolute finesse, purity, definition and elegance of organically grown barley.
  • Colour – Late summer barley
  • Nose – Opens on a light almond note with a twist of candied lemon. Followed by the magical aromatics of toasted barley, floral and fruit notes with a hint of lemon honey intermingling beautifully. Toffee sweetness comes from American oak cask and as the spirit opens little drifts of succulent papaya, melon and kiwi can be found.
  • Palate – The texture is sensational, the spirit gliding over the palate like warm syrup. The taste buds love the purity and the sensational clarity of flavours being presented. A real sweetness on the front palate, barley sugar, honey almonds, green jelly beans, pear drops all splashed with fresh lemons and balanced by the crispness of malted barley.
  • Finish – An intensity and definition of flavour that is unparalleled. Incredibly fresh giving an unforgettable palate experience that leaves the taste buds tingling and overwhelmed.
  • Mood – Mischievous. Coy, flirtatious, Lolita. A breast-surging, bodice ripper: breathlessly virtuous.
Am I the only one who finds this giggle-worthy whisky copy? I mean really, bodice ripper??

And this description doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to our experience. Curiously a different organic expression (The Organic 2010 Multi-vintage) had identical notes… hmm…

I was reminded of my interview with Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie who shared:

I’ve had discussions with our marketing team with organic whisky as an option in response to the incessant demand for something different from the different channels, but our friends in marketing don’t like it. And I can understand where they are coming – if we market it as organic then does it make the rest of it ‘impure’ in compared to it? I have two minds. 

Other whiskies sampled in our August session included:
August Tasting Trio

August Tasting Trio (Whisky Lady)

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Bowmore Laimrig 15 year 54.4%

Inspired by my digging out older tasting notes on the Bowmore 21 year, I cracked open the box of whisky samples brought back from Canada. This was one my aunt and uncle simply decided I needed to try!

As soon as I had a whiff, I understood why…

Bowmore (Hicklings)

Bowmore Laimrig 15 year (Hicklings)

Bowmore Laimrig 15 year 54.4% (Bottle 14,532 of 15,000)

Here is what I found:

  • Colour – Deep rich copper, almost brown
  • Nose – Resin, sweet almost spearmint, then hazelnuts, treacle, rum raisins, red cherries, minty flirtation merging into eucalyptus
  • Taste – Bursts on the palate with leather, smoked bacon, then roasted slightly bitter nuts, raisins come to the fore, some spices like crushing cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a mortar and pestle, a bit of tobacco… something else too.. chocolate?
  • Finish – A bit bitter, almost ashy, wine, sticks around for some time rather than dash off
  • Water – I was initially reluctant to try… but wow! Sweater, saltier, spicier yet also smoother and more rounded, warmed the cockles… plum notes, yummy chocolate on the palate, clear sherry wine finish
  • Overall – What I enjoy most was it never stayed still… beginning with the nose it shifts, evolves as it airs… then on sipping the palate also revealed different elements, unfolding at its own pace

The more I sipped, the more I appreciated it. The longer it aired, the more emerged. Exactly what I like to see in a whisky. What a treat to discover!

The Laimrig takes its inspiration from Bowmore’s stone pier where the distillery’s barley was once unloaded and their whiskies would travel the globe.

It is finished in Spanish sherry butts, is cask strength, non-chill filtered and intended to have a rich, dark character and colour.

Official tasting notes:

  • On the eye teak brown.
  • Breathe in sweet dark sherry, figs and cocoa balanced with smoky peatiness and a salty tang.
  • Sip a rich combination of chocolate, sherry, raisins and smoke.
  • Savour the long and lingering finish.

What others say:

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200 years of Ardbeg – Interview with Bill Lumsden

May around the world was full of official “Ardbeg Day” celebrations commemorating 200 years of Ardbeg.

Fans of peaty Islay whiskies at some point or the other find their way to Ardbeg. Many keep coming back. You can usually spot an Ardbeg poking around in my whisky cabinet – currently it is the Uigeadail.

Ardbeg 200

I thought what better timing to share a short extract from an interview with Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stock, The Glenmorangie Company in Delhi on 10 April 2015 for Man’s World India. While primarily the interview focused on Glenmorangie, we did chat briefly about its peatier cheekier cousin Ardbeg.

CH: May will be the 200th anniversary of Ardbeg and you have plans to launch a new whisky. Tell us more?

BL: Ahh.. the land of the badgers… The 1st product has already been launched – Perpetuum – with the committee release already out.

The idea is that the distillery has a very checkered history. It has been opened and closed and opened and neglected until LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) took it over. So the idea is that in addition to looking back on what has happened in the last 200 years we are looking ahead to the next 200 years. And we want the distillery to remain open and in production in perpetuity. So that is where the name has come from.

Basically I’ve put together a mélange of lots of different cask types, lots of different styles of Ardbeg that have been made over the years. I tasted it in Sydney on Wednesday and I thought, to be honest, I’m generally my own worst critic but I’m quite happy with how this one has worked out.

We are also going to do another bottling for Ardbeg – a higher end bottling. I’ve already put together a recipe for that. It will be very limited. It will not be a cheap and regret I can’t tell you any more details on that as there hasn’t been a pre-release yet.

CH: Let’s talk about the Committee with now over 100,000 members – its role and future?

BL: The committee has grown to such an extent now with these limited bottlings that inevitably there are people who are going to be disappointed.

I’m not 100% sure about the future direction of the committee. It was formed to make sure that the doors of the distillery never close again and its been very successful in that. So like I say, we are reviewing the committee to see how to take it to the next stage.

Bill Lumsden (Ardbeg Blogger Vault)

Bill Lumsden (Ardbeg Blogger Vault)

Pssstt…. Perpetuum is available at the distillery and also online (though apparently demand ‘broke‘ the website temporarily).

Those lucky enough to sample a bottle – slainthe! For the rest of us – raise a toast with your favourite available Ardbeg and celebrate continued access to this impish Islay distillery!

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