Every year for quite a while I’ve been going to De Whiskykoning‘s ‘winter tasting’, which consists of only peaty drams. Mostly, that boils down to six whiskies from Islay. Sometimes there’s another one in the tasting from Jura or another disitllery that also makes a heavily peated dram.
What makes the tasting even more awesome than it normally is, is that a buddy of Rob Stevens (the owner of the shop) goes to Islay every year to pick up festival bottlings. He uses these in tastings, at cost.
Since 2014, when we first booked the entire tasting for my friends and me he does an extra tasting so the Feis Ile bottlings are getting a bit stretched and not all six are from the festival. I’m fine with that since Rob generally puts up a damn awesome tasting.
Of course, the tasting was in November, but with all the things that have happened since (a trip to Scotland, an Advent Calendar, the Blind Tasting Competition, the holiday season and not in the least, the making of De Kiln), I’ve not gotten around to blogging about it yet.
This is the first of a two part tasting report in which I review the first three whiskies. The next part will be up tomorrow.
Ardbeg Perpetuum, 47.4%
While this isn’t many people’s favorite Ardbeg of the last couple of years, Rob (the Whiskykoning) really likes this. It’s far more gentle than anything that has come out of the distillery since they started production again (except from before their closure). Because of this gentleness it’s slightly more reminiscent of older Ardbeg expressions.
The nose is light and dry, salty and sweet. A light whiff of smoke with straw and apple. The palate is slightly more modern with a lighter sharpness and hints of straw. The finish is short and simple.
Bowmore Feis Ile 2015, Virgin Oak, 55.7%
A rather interesting Bowmore from Virgin Oak casks. This doesn’t happen too often but is all the rage at the moment. Most distilleries won’t miss this opportunity to try and make a quick buck of this. Obviously, this is not really the case with a Feis Ile bottling, since most money is made on the secondary market
The nose has loads of freshly cut oak and vanilla. The Bowmore hints of flowers and perfume are present too. Some resin, it gets more floral after a few minutes and there’s grass. The palate is sharp and dry with lots of oak and flowers. Quite light with fruit and straw. The finish is modern, slightly floral and perfumy. Quite long. From the get go there was a tiny hint of caramel that got stronger and stronger as we let it sit.
An interesting dram, and rather tasty. I doubt it’ll stay interesting for long, though.
Kilchoman Feis Ile 2015, 7 years old, 58.2%
A seven year old vatting of three bourbon casks from Kilchoman is an interesting one, normally. Apparently at the time of bottling this was the oldest Kilchoman bottled to date. Of course, now there is a 10 year old that was auctioned off for charity.
The nose has chemical hints with winegums and the grease on the inside of the plastic bag they come in. Peach and apricot, but also ether and pear drops. The palate is sharp and tingling, dry too. Candy, peaches and sharp. The finish is dry and sharp. Lots of alcohol with sweetness and chemical hints, with caramel.
This is a very weird dram, and if I recall correctly, the least favorite of the evening. There’s just too much chemical sweetness going on to be a really nice dram.
So far, so good. An Ardbeg that was nicer than I expected after the rather negative reviews around the interwebs. The Bowmore was nice, but not spectacular and the Kilchoman was a let down. Interesting, but a let down.
Tomorrow there’ll be three more reviews, and a bonus because of De Whiskykoning’s 50th anniversary.