Bunnahabhain 2013 Mòine Bordeaux Fèis Ìle 2021
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted July 25, 2021Excellent balance of peat, tannins and subtle berry sweetness. Wine casks are very hit or miss but the influence here is restrained and a step up from previous Bunna Bordeaux releases.
Bunnahabhain 2001 Marsala Cask Finish Fèis Ìle 2021
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted July 25, 2021Lots of dry, musky grape notes: dates, prunes, raisins etc. Very tasty.
Jura Distillery Cask Fèis Ìle Edition 2021
Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTasted July 14, 2021Here’s something you don’t see often: a Jura that outshines an Islay. This was one of the highlights of the Water of Life Feis Off tasting, edging out many of the releases from the island that dominates the Feis. It’s really juicy, like sucking a ripe Seville orange. Tart, well balanced, lovely texture and a hint of cream to top things off. Who needs seven wood blends when Jura has sherry butts of this quality?
Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2021
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted July 14, 2021Beautifully crisp barley notes float above a smoky canvas with a hint of struck match. Silky smooth in the mouth, with citrus fruits and a healthy buzz of peat. The finish is slightly sweet, with no bitter notes. I find Kilchomans very variable but this is one of the loveliest I’ve tried. Wish I’d bought a bottle.
Laphroaig Cáirdeas 2021 PX Cask Strength
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted July 14, 2021This cask strength version of the duty free favorite comprises whisky aged for between five and seven years in ex-bourbon casks, followed by six months in quarter casks and then a final two years in European oak. I presume those final casks are PX-seasoned rather than commercial bodega castoffs, but I’m just guessing. Either way, the original travel retail bottling ranked as one of my favorite Laphroaigs when I bought a bottle several years ago, so a cask strength version should be a treat. It’s unexpectedly approachable at the higher strength, the most obvious difference of the amped-up ABV being an increased viscosity rather than any painful alcohol burn. The nose is a delightful mix of coffee, dark chocolate, smouldering fire wood, plum jam and Syrup of Figs. Unfortunately the palate is much tighter, a flatter version of the nose. If the nose was music played through great headphones with an expansive sound stage, the palate is the same song heard on your iPhone’s speaker. There’s a full-throated blast of Seville oranges and fig jam and the finish is a bitter dark chocolate, but I found it hard to pick out other flavors from my small sample. I suspect this needs a drop of water to perform at its best, so I’ll defer a rating pending another opportunity to taste. Not that anyone should care what I think - this year’s Cairdeas is sure to please fans and fly off the shelves.
Caol Ila 12 Year Fèis Ìle 2021
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted July 11, 2021The elevated strength delivers a delightful concentrated punch of Caol Ila peat, while the Moscatel cask finish adds a sweet top note. The sweetness isn’t cloying over the course of a half-ounce pour, but it’s a finely balanced affair that could nudge this whisky a half-point either way over the course of a bigger dram.
Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted July 11, 2021It’s hard to draw conclusions about this complex bottling on the basis of a half-ounce sample, but my suspicion that this would be less than the sum of its parts has been only heightened. To rewind: Bruichladdich sold samples of some of the casks that went into this 20th anniversary bottling as part of its virtual Feis Ile day on May 30 and I was fortunate enough to secure a pack. The samples were drawn from six of the seven bourbon casks used in the vatting and each showcased the Laddie spirit so beautifully that it would be a shame if they are drowned out by the wine casks that make up the other half of the recipe. The bourbon casks comprised whisky from its oldest remaining stocks of organic barley (distilled in 2003), Islay barley (2004) and Bere barley (2009), alongside spirit made using its first ever biodynamic crop (distilled 2011), a regional barley (2013) and its first triple distillation in 2005. Each of them was crisply flavored, silky in the mouth and easy to drink neat despite ABVs running as high as 69.3% for the triple distillation. The absence of ethanol on the nose across the samples was testimony to the careful selection by head distiller Adam Hannett. I had only small sips of each during the online masterclass and didn’t take notes, but the rich butterscotch nose on the Black Isle regional barley experiment was among the immediate highlights. I passed on the ballot for this bottle given the 150 pound cost, but got to try a sample this weekend as part of the Water of Life charity’s Feis Off event. The nose has the distinctive lactive aromas that scream Bruichladdich, along with a whiff of spice and faint berries. My small pour was insufficient to unpack the flavors in the mouth, but it packs a punch on first sip and then evolves into flavors of malt and a gentle sweetness. The finish is a complex shape-shifter, taking some interesting vegetal turns. I’d be curious to try more — but not so much that I’d trade what’s left of my cask samples.
Lagavulin 13 Year Fèis Ìle 2021
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted July 10, 2021A hint of rasperry on the nose, a thick viscous texture that coats the mouth with a gasoline peat and an unusually dry, mouth-puckering finish. A satisfying twist on a Lagavulin.
Glen Scotia Campbeltown Malt Festival 2021
Single Malt — Campbeltown , ScotlandTasted July 10, 2021The wine influence here leans towards dry, subtle raspberry flavors — like sucking a red Bassetts Wine Gum — rather than anything excessively fruity or sweet. It forms a backdrop to a spice that slowly builds to a peppery crescendo. The long aftertaste brings dry cranberry juice and raspberry tea. A nicely balanced bottling.
Balcones Peated Texas Single Malt Whisky
American Single Malt — Texas, USATasted July 4, 2021I’m not one for pairing food with whisky, but this smoky American malt goes great with July 4th brisket. There’s a minty aroma to the peat and a thick chocolate flavor in the mouth. Hope everyone’s Independence Day pour was as good as this. Thanks for sharing @pkingmartin