Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland
Reviewed December 21, 2020 (edited January 5, 2022)
Nose: This does not present at all the way I would have expected - there's earth and smoke, sure. But due to the youth and resultant lower levels of brine, it's much more rich and herbal. I'm getting a distinct and soft mint and thyme. For being such high proof, this nose is very approachable - it's not taking your head off. Bready. Vanilla beans. Slightly floral and grassy, but with nothing harsh or "pokey". Pickled ginger. Very subtle honeyed grains and citrus peels. Very dense creamy - salted cultured butter comes to mind. Palate: The dense, rich, rounded earth and peat are here, and the source of that mint reveals itself in phenol - this even has a slightly mouth-numbing sensation that I would is a combo of the alcohol and phenol. Toasted, honeyed cereal grains. There's that ginger again, along with sweet orange peels, coffee, and chocolate are all on deck. Peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint. A little iodine and brine come through, though not dominating. Effervescent. Gros Michel bananas, strawberries. The balance here, for being so heavily peated, is phenomenal. The entire palate is coated in rich, oily character, with the space between the middle and back palate really light up. The alcohol provides all the "top-end", while the midrange is really what stands out here, and the foundation is all barley and peat. Meadium-heavy mouthfeel. Finish: Thick layer of ethanol, meyer lemons, earth, and smoke. Some mint ice cream. Fresh wheat bread and cream, buttered cornbread with honey - sweetend grain character with cream slowly fade in and out. Apricots and peaches also start popping in and out. Chocolate, leather, and espresso also swirl in, while the finish hangs out for a long time. Beautiful show. Other notes: I decided to pull the trigger on this bottle as my Christmas gift to myself. And I am thrilled that I did. The peat on this does not at all present the way I expected, and the youth is absolutely not a detriment to the end product. The density, richness, and depth are all excellent and deliver on exactly what the label promises: an intense experience. As I continue to let this open up in the glass, it continues to evolve and provide even more intensity, each sip building on the last, the oils adding another layer to the party. Is this for everybody? Absolutely not. But if you've got the cash and find yourself loving the more intense things Islay has to offer, I'd say go for it. This is good enough that it's tempting me to seek out others in the range, even from prior years. Or even just another bottle of this... Really fun bottle.