Tag Archives: peaty

#82 – Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Edition

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Dark Cove (2016 Committee Edition)
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 55%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: Unavailable
Nose: Petroleum, tar, dark chocolate, toffee
Taste: Peat, dark chocolate, coffee,
Finish: Medium, peaty, spice
Rating: 8/10

I had the pleasure of visiting Islay around this time last year and while there I made the trip to the Ardbeg distillery to do the Warehouse Tasting. What a great place and great location/atmosphere to do a tasting. While at the distillery I spotted the Committee Edition of Dark Cove, knocked out at 55% rather than the 46.5% of the standard.

The initial hit on the nose as I pour is of petroleum, it’s strong but very short lived. It then opens up into a hot tar and dark chocolate mixture, if you can even imagine that. Give it a bit more time and it starts to soften and you begin to get a little more creamy toffee note. The ABV is very obvious at first but it does soften as it aerates and after a couple of minutes any burn has gone.
Onto the palate and you are presented with that much sort after Ardbeg peat, but it’s not alone. Oh no, it brings some welcome friends, high cocoa dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee come along for the ride, giving this peaty monster some real depth. Given a few minutes I start to detect a subtle sweetness coming through, some of that toffee from the nose maybe. This leads into a medium length finish that is a little dry, unsurprisingly peaty with a real spicy hit.
A truly wonderful expression from Ardbeg yet again, different enough from the core range with a much deeper quality to it coming from those sherry casks, and yet still light enough to be enjoyed on a summer evening. A great dram any time of the year.

Ardbeg – Blasda, Uigeadail & Corryvreckan

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Blasda
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £170 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Light peat, floral, citrus, mint
Taste: Light, slightly sweet, slight spice
Finish: Medium, light, slight dryness
Rating: 7/10

 First up tonight is the Blasda, a lightly peated offering from the distillery known for their heavily peated whiskies. This one comes in a just 8ppm opposed to their more usual 24ppm.

The first thing that you notice is just how pale it is compared to the others, also that it is bottled at just 40% which is unusual for Ardbeg from what I have seen. The nose has a gentle peatiness with a citrus and floral freshness, a little vanilla sweetness finishing with just a hint of mint, very summary.

The palate is lovely and light, a real refreshing dram with a light toffee sweetness, a small amount of spice but with an overwhelming sense of flowers and just a hint of that mint again. It has a light, medium length finish to it that has a slight dryness to it.

A real summer dram this one, wonderfully light and refreshing, I believe a bottle would find itself empty quite quickly on a summers day with friends, and without them come to think of it 🙂

I was a little worried about the low ABV to be honest, but I think it really works well with the gentleness of this dram. This just goes to prove that Ardbeg are about more than heavy peat like some people believe. My only real criticism is the price tag, it’s lovely, but it ain’t worth £170.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Uigeadail
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 54.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £50 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Peat, smoke, rich, caramel sweetness, floral
Taste: Peat, sweet, oily, marzipan, dark toffee
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, peaty, malt
Rating: 9/10

 This was actually the first Ardbeg I tried, and I was sold on the distillery with the first sip. It’s not as heavily peated on the nose as I remembered to be honest, you do get the peaty, smokiness but not too strong. It has a real depth and richness to it with some caramel sweetness and a slight floral note at the end to just lighten it a little.

The palate is where the peat and smoke come through but not before some sweetness and slight marzipan notes, all wrapped up in a wonderful mouth-coating oily texture. It is deep and powerful with some richer dark toffee in there also. The finish is unsurprisingly long and peaty but also warm, spicy with a lasting malty flavour.

At 54.2% the Uigeadail can handle a bit of water, it opens the nose up to make it a little lighter with more floral notes but also highlights the caramel. The lovely oily character remains even with water. It increases the sweetness a little, decreases the peat and toffee but also removes the marzipan note.

An amazing dram this one, I love it every time I pour a glass. It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth compared to the Blasda but if you like your peat, you can’t go far wrong with this, worth every penny.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Corryvreckan
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 57.1%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £60 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Rich, caramel, tropical fruits
Taste: Sweet, peaty, spicy, rich but light, tropical fruits
Finish: Long, peaty, dry
Rating: 9/10

 Last in the trio is the Corryvreckan. The nose a some great depth to it,  a rich, creamy caramel quality is what first hits but then gets lightened by some tropical fruits. There is a lot going on in the glass but it is wonderfully balanced. Surprisingly note that peaty or smoky though.

On the palate you get that same sort of sweetness as with the Uigeadail along with a lot of spice. The peat comes through on the palate but is not too overpowering as it also has great richness yet remaining reasonably light somehow. The tropical fruits come through from the nose which helps to keep it light on the long and peaty finish. It is a lot drier than the Uigeadail however.

Another amazing expression from Ardbeg this, different enough from the Uigeadail but equally as good in my opinion. Again for the money I think it is worth it, not sure which I’d have though, might need a bottle of each in I think.

Conclusion

Ardbeg is awesome! Just about sums it up I think. All three would be great in summer, especially the Blasda but the Uigeadail & Corryvreckan also have a great richness and spice to them that make them a great winter dram as well, year round drams, what more can you ask for. Like I said earlier though, I think the Blasda is over priced unfortunately, especially given how quickly it would go.

Compass Box The Peat Monster

Distillery: Compass Box
Name: The Peat Monster
Region: Highland
Age:
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £37 (70cl)
Nose: Iodine, salty, sweet, orchard fruits
Taste: Peaty, smoky, light, salty, floral, spice
Finish: Long, peaty, oak, light, spicy
Rating: 5/10
Lastly I move onto Peat Monster, a blend of an Islay malt, Isle of Mull malt and a slightly peated Speyside malt to give “a balanced, highly drinkable peaty blended malt Scotch whisky”. I’m partial to peated whiskies, both highly peated Islay drams as well as other more subtle offerings from various distilleries, so this one should be interesting to try.
Well unsurprisingly it hits you with iodine initially but also with a refreshing salty note to it and a sweetness, a little too much for me at first but it does lessen are the air gets around it. As it aerates, hidden behind the iodine which also begins to lessens, you can get the orchard fruit notes coming through. The 46% ABV is also apparent on the nose.
The palate is predominately peaty as you would expect but it does have a lovely smoky note to it as well. The peat dies down some leading into a more delicate palate, a slightly coastal saltiness maybe followed by a soft floral note and a little spice. This leads on to the inevitably long peaty finish which is still light and spicy with an oaky dryness present also.
Yet another light and easy drinking dram from Compass Box. For the peat heads amongst us, this is a well balanced and easily approached dram suitable for both summer evenings due to it’s lightness, but also as a winter warmer due to it’s warm and spicy characters. I’m not sure I’m struck on the nose as such to be honest but the palate is certainly pleasant enough.
Thanks to Compass Box for the sample.

Monthly Meetup 2 – Laphroaig Triple Wood

Distillery: Laphroaig
Name: Triple Wood
Region: Islay
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 48%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £42
Nose: Peaty, engine oil, sweet, smooth, citrus freshness
Taste: Peaty, light, fresh, sweetness, slightly dry, smooth
Finish: Medium, peaty, dry, oak
Rating: 7/10

This is the third of the Laphroaig range that I have tried, the 10 year old and the Quarter Cask being the other two, both lovely. The Triple Wood is essentially the Quarter Cask, which I love, finished in Oloroso sherry casks, which I adore as a finish, so I was pretty hopeful with this one.

Disappointed I was not, none of us were to be honest. Now we all enjoy an Islay which is why we wanted to try a slightly better one than most of us had tried previously. The peat was obviously a powerful quality pretty much throughout this dram, but it also had so much more to offer, which it had picked up from the quarter cask and the sherry cask. It added an extra depth to it that left us all wanting a top up, and more annoyingly, left us all wondering what the 18 year old is like.

I hear a lot of people say that Laphroaig, and many other Islays, are all about the peat, but I say to those people, you need to try the Triple Wood in order to appreciate the complexity that can also be present. It is a wonderful dram.

Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1995

Distillery: Lagavulin
Name:  Distillers Edition 1995
Region: Islay
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: 4/499
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £66
Colour: Amber
Nose: Light peat, rich, sweet
Taste: Light peat, full bodied, rich, smooth, coastal, dry
Finish: Light peat, warm, medium
Rating: 8/10
Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1995

I am a big fan of the standard 16yo Lagavulin so after finishing a bottle I decided to try the next one up, the Double Matured Distillers Edition from 1995, and boy was I not disappointed. It is less peated that the standard 16yo as a result of the maturation in Pedro Ximenez casks, but it has also resulted in a richer flavour. This is apparent on both the nose and the palate, with the palate also giving your mouth a lovely coating of the initial richness, which then dries out with a slight coastal note coming through, leading to a lovely, warm, medium length finish. The peat notes are apparent throughout but is perfectly balanced, not overpowering.

Due to it’s smoothness I also did not find the need to add water, it is not harsh. If you prefer water however then it has plenty of flavour to allow a generous amount, if that is how you take it.

A wonderful whisky that I am happy to have as part of my collection. It is an improvement on the standard 16yo in some ways, but looses some of its character at the same time. To choose between them would be very difficult, I would simply prefer to say you should have one of each, they both have their time depending on your mood.

St. George’s Chapter 11

Distillery: St. George’s
Name: Chapter 11
Region: Norfolk
Age: Minimum 3 years
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: 639, 640, 641, 642
Colour: Light
Nose: Lightly peaty, light fruits, crisp
Taste: Lightly peaty, light, crisp, clean
Finish: Short, dry
Rating: 6/10
St George's Chapter 11

Well I had idea what to expect of the Chapter 11 from St. George’s distillery, branded as The English Whisky Co. After all it is a very young whisky with the statement made of a minimum of 3 years old, no maximum age stated though. Being so young and coming from ex American Bourbon casks, it is very light in colour as you may expect. St. George’s have the peated and non-peated range, Chapter 11 falls into their peated range, which is accomplished by the use of heavily smoked barley.

It is nice to see that the whiskies are released at a healthy 46%, non chill-filtered and at natural colour, no attempts to cover the youth of the whisky. Speaking of which, surprise would be a good description of my first impression; I have to be honest I was expecting something a little on the rough side, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it is in fact fairly smooth, it even carries the 46% very well, only really noticeable on the finish.

It is not a complex whisky but it is a very light, crisp and easy drinking one that would be good for cleaning the palate after a greasy meal such as a Chinese. The addition of a small amount of water opens the nose up a little, bringing out those light fruity notes, making it a little sweeter on the nose. The palate is not really affected by the water, nor is the finish apart from smoothing it a little. It is sold as heavily peated / smokey; as a fan of heavily peaty whiskies I would not say heavy, peaty yes, so if you really dislike peaty whiskies then it is probably not for you, but don’t expect a Laphroaig or Ardbeg.

The Chapter 11 was not what I would class as cheap for such a young whisky, costing £41, so if you are on a budget then there are better out there. The reason I bought a bottle though was to help to support the up and coming English whisky industry. It can’t be an easy task starting a new distillery and competing against the big boys, so they need all the help they can get. Expensive yes, I would say something around the £30 mark would get a lot more people trying it, but I see why they price it as they do, you still get a very nice whisky at the end of the day.

Notes

Distilled by David Fitt
Cask Type ASB (if anyone knows what this means please let me know)
Distilled March 2008
Bottled November 2011

Jura Superstition & Diurachs’ Own

Superstition

Distillery: Jura
Region: Islay
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Amber
Nose: Light, coastal hints, slight sweetness
Taste: Light, fresh, lightly peated, coastal
Finish: Light, medium length, slightly dry
Rating: 6/10
Jura Superstition

Quite accurately described as ‘delicate/light peated’ on the boxes’ 2×2 matrix, this is a very easy drinking dram, fantastic on a hot summer day. It is light and refreshing with slight coastal (sea air, saltiness) tones on the nose but with a little sweetness hidden in there also. This continues onto both the palate and the finish but with the addition of a slight peatiness coming through.Although it is a little stronger than normal at 43%, the addition of water is not necessary due to the already light nature of the drink. The strength is not over powering and the addition of water does loose some of the qualities of the whisky. If you like your lightly peated whiskies or if you want a good introduction into peated whiskies then this is a fantastic choice.

Diurachs’ Own

Distillery: Jura
Region: Islay
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Amber
Nose: Rich but crisp, coastal hints
Taste: Well rounded, slight sweetness, coastal
Finish: Long, coastal, slightly dry
Rating: 6/10
Jura Diurachs' Own
Diurachs is the Gaelic name for the people of Jura and the whisky is described as ‘rich, full-bodied and unpeated’ on the boxes’ new matrix, now a 5 section circle due to the addition of Elixir. It has a deeper, more intense nose it than the Superstition yet manages to keep a crispness to it at the same time, a little unusual but it works. The coastal tones are evident throughout helping to keep it refreshing, which is nice change for a rich whisky. It makes it a whisky that can still be enjoyed on a warm day, when I usually expect this type to be more of a winter warmer.

The Ileach Peaty

Distillery: Ileach
Region: Islay
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: Yes
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Amber
Nose: Peaty, chemical
Taste: Medium weight peat, smooth
Finish: Short but harsh and bitter
Rating: 2/10
The Ileach Peaty

I have become a fan of peated whiskies over the last few years but I can’t quite settle with The Ileach Peaty. It’s not that it is distasteful, it just that it feels, well fake. It doesn’t feel like a peaty whisky, more a whisky with peat flavourings added. Now it is a no-age statement whisky so I am not expecting a top class dram, but there doesn’t appear to be anything more than medium strength, slightly artificial peaty note to the nose and on the palate, it would be nice to have something else there, something genuine that you can sink you teeth into. I found the finish a little surprising as well because the palate is smooth but the finish is a little too bitter.

It may just be the lack of age that lets it down, but I would personally spend the extra on something like a Laphroig if you want a peat monster or save a few quid and go for a Ledaig if you want a more subtly peated whisky. Sorry Ileach.