Islay, a baby and Twitter

20170527_193753It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged. In those two weeks quite a lot has happened, varying from major life changing things to unimportant things that are fun to yap about.


On May 17th, our third child, Cato, was born. So far it’s been smooth sailing with her and she sleeps rather well, only wanting to eat/drink once per night.

The now middle kid is turning three in August, and I had already forgotten how tiny newborns are. Luckily, not everything is forgotten so a lot of things (diapers and such) can be done on auto pilot.


About two weeks ago, maybe a little bit longer, I’ve decided to stop using Twitter. I wasn’t getting anything from it and my obsessive-compulsory treat kept me checking it several times per day sifting through nothing that wasn’t also in news feeds or on Facebook.

For that reason I’ve uninstalled all apps for it, and the only thing that’s still happening there regarding MaltFascination is the auto-post of every article. Apart from that, I’m not checking anything. If you want to get in touch, please use Facebook, or the comments on the blog!


Then, the most whisky related thing in this post! I’ve said it before a while ago, but recently I’ve been rediscovering my love for Islay whiskies. Of course, being the spoiled brat that I am I’m not talking about Caol Ila Moch, Laphroaig Select and the likes.

Honestly, I don’t really care about these drams. I find them too fiery with little or no balance and depth. However, with a bit of money to use in bottle-shares, there is some exquisite whisky coming from the Queen of the Hebrides.

Also, my Facebook timeline being flooded with pictures and messages from yet another Feis Ile I’m not attending might have something to do with it…

To celebrate the birth of Cato I dug through my sample stash and picked a few things I’ve been keeping for a special occasion, and one I should have tried before but hadn’t. Let’s do some reviews!

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2016Lagavulin Feis Ile 2016, 18yo, 49.5%

The Lagavulin that was released during Feis Ile for their 200th anniversary was matured in refill American Oak and European Oak sherry casks.

On the nose I got notes of bonfire, which means charcoal, burned grass and straw and wood. Quite a lot of peat and smoke, with hints of vanilla, thyme and brine. The palate has some bite and shows flavors straw, smoke and peat. There are hints of oak, salt and sand, with quite a rich texture. Some minor hints of tar and wooden fishing boats. The finish is slightly more salty, but softer and warmer. Rich and long with a lighter smokiness.

An amazing dram by any standard. Absolutely gorgeous regarding the layers of flavors and no overpowering smoke that leaves no room for other flavors and scents to shine. Top notch stuff, this!



Lagavulin Jazz 2015Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2015, 55.4%

This one is a lot more fierce than the 18 year old above. This one shows lots of oak and smoke on the nose. There’s salted lemon and notes of pastry. Malt, and hints of kippers, vanilla and a light herbaceousness. The palate is sharp with vanilla, lemon sorbet and lime juice. Some sugar, and a woody edge. Peat, smoke and basalt. The finish is an explosion of peat and smoke. Lots of flavor with a salty edge.

Another very good whisky, but a little less deep and layered. Still, very enjoyable.







12157_bigArdbeg 25, 1991-2016, 49.8%, The Duchess, Shieldmaiden Series ‘Malin’

I got this sample from Nils, who works at Best of Whiskies, which is also the company behind The Duchess, the bottler. They’re a relatively new bottler, but they have put the bar ridiculously high for themselves and therefore aren’t bottling many things at all.

The nose shows a malty sweetness, with ‘old’ lemon, smoke and chamois leather. Almost like a good Port Ellen. A light smokiness with hints of salinity and marshmallows. An older style smoke, but without the oak being overpowering. The palate is richer and slightly sharper than I expected. Smooth and sweet with marshmallows. Hints of white pepper, salty smoke. Some dried apples, simple syrup and hints of brine. The finish is rich and smooth, with lots of heavy smoke. No overpowering smoke, but a heavy smoke. Long and slightly spicy.

Dear god this is good. The most luxurious of the whiskies I’ve tried in this batch, and we’re not even done. The balance and depth is incredible and it shows the vastly great side of Ardbeg. A very expensive bottle, but I can sort of understand where the money goes.



96110-bigCaol Ila 1978-2002, 23yo, 61.7%, Rare Malts Selection

A sample I pulled from the box of things-to-get-to-someday, and I have no idea from whom I got this (sorry for that). Obviously, this fits this tasting nicely, so here it goes!

There’s the classic smoke and oak on the nose. But I also get a surprising amount of red fruits. Blackberries and blueberries, with vanilla crumble, so custard and sweet pastry. Far more complex than expected. The palate is very dry and very sharp. There’s sweetness with vanilla and lots of fruit again. The oak is toned down and the whisky shows the creaminess of Caol Ila with some smoke. A bit more gentle than contemporary Caol Ila on the smoke. The finish is dry and sweet with a little bit of heavy smoke.

Yet another cracker from on of my favorite distilleries. The style of whisky that got me hooked initially, some 14 (?) years ago. Good on a level that I even tried to get a bottle in auction this weekend. Of course, I wasn’t ready to shell out the money required for this kind of stuff nowadays.



About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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4 Responses to Islay, a baby and Twitter

  1. Marco van Boekel says:

    Gefeliciteerd met de geboorte van je dochter!

  2. Pingback: Two new releases from The Duchess | Malt Fascination

  3. Pingback: Whiskies of the year: Runners up | Malt Fascination

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