Argh! Isn’t Spain lovely? Sun, beach, siesta and 35ŗC every day of the summer. I am so desperate I will even drink a Johnnie Walker on the rocks. Man! I need a break. So there I was at my favorite summer spot, on the shadows, under a huge ceiling fan when the whisky fairy ringed the door…
My bottle of Laphroaig Cairdeas arrived home and well, as I happen to have several samples of this year Feis Ile 2013 thanks to the chaps of Master of Malt ( thanks to them and to £50 I spent on the samples ) I decided it was time for a proper healthy peat tasting to combat this awful heat wave.
In case you don’t know, Feis Ile is Islay’s annual festival of Malt and Music. Islay has a long and ancient history of Gaelic music and the last week in May was a time when both island musicians and indeed Gaelic folk musicians from the mainland would gather on the island to play and sing at Ceilidh’s, the Gaelic word for Gatherings. But not all it music, all of the eight Islay Whisky Distilleries join the celebration in what is probably the most famous whisky event in the World calendar.
So let’s see some of the whiskies I have taste. Let’s stay from the south and move up.
One of the most exciting Ardbegs, sorry Ardbog, releases of the last years. And fortunately they have release quite a few bottles so everyone interested could grab one.
“Fantastic! Can I say that this Ardbeg is even better than Galileo? This have all the delicious aroma of Ardbeg at cask strength with a wonderful touch of sweet almonds”
It is a cask strength Ardbeg aged in Manzanilla Sherry Cask for ten years and blended with 10 years old Ardbeg aged in Bourbon casks. The result is a wonderful dram that will delight Ardbeg fans worldwide.
This dram has a cooper-like color.
Nose (92): more than average. peat, honey, citrus, wood, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, coffee. Quite fantastic Ardbeg. Lovely nose.
Palate (93): powerful, oily. peat, honey, earth, citrus, spices, wood, almonds.
Finish (91): longer than average. peat, honey, earth, coffee.So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Ardbeg Ardbog with 92 points over 100.
Lagavulin Feis Ile 2013 18 years old
You can’t go wrong with Lagavulin. I tasted a few months ago the extremly overpriced 21 years old and I was quite impressed ( both by the whisky and its price ). So the chance of tasting the Feis Ile 2013 release was quite a happy occasion.
“Delicious taste. It is like Lagavulin 16 years old in steroids!”
This dram has a amber-like color.
Nose (91): more than average. peat, honey, spices, raisins, citrus.
Palate (93): powerful, oily. peat, honey, salt, wood, spices, vanilla. This is Lagavulin in steroids!
Finish (91): longer than average. peat, honey, spices.So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Lagavulin Feis Ile 2013 - 18 Year Old with 92 points over 100.
Laphroaig Feis Ile 2013 Cairdeas Port Wood Edition
One of the strangest colors I have seen in whisky. This Laphroaig Cairdeas is pink, yeah, pink like a tanned Barbie ass. Pink!. Oh man! What you were thinking about?! Well, never mind… whisky is for drinking and not for watching. I really hesitated to buy this one but then I said what the hell… I still can find room somewhere in a wardrobe to store it… and placed the order. Great value for the money whisky.
“100% Laphroaig! Very sweet with lots of Christmas cake spices. Delicious”
This dram has a fino-like color.
Nose (90): more than average. peat, iodine, wood, spices, biscuits, fruits.
Palate (91): powerful, oily. peat, iodine, honey, citrus, spices, sweet, coffee.
Finish (90): longer than average. peat, iodine, fruits.So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Laphroaig Feis Ile 2013 - Cairdeas Port Wood Edition with 90 points over 100.
Bowmore Feis Ile 2013
Bowmore does great whiskies from time to time. Maybe this one is one of them?
“Interesting Bowmore whisky with a fruity profile with something like figs in it. It doesn't look like sherry matured on the other hand...”
This dram has a fino-like color.
Nose (88): more than average. honey, figs, citrus, vanilla, peat.
Palate (90): powerful, oily. peat, honey, figs, vanilla, spices, wood, citrus.
Finish (89): longer than average. peat, honey, spices.So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Bowmore Feis Ile 2013 with 89 points over 100.
Caol Ila Feis Ile 2013 Triple Matured
This is, together with Laphroaig, the most interesting expression of the Feis Ile whiskies. This is a Caol Ila ( decent peat, decent price by ) aged in three different casks. As Billy Stitchell, Distillery Manager, said:
“Spirit distilled in 1998 has been triple-cask matured. For 12 years it rested in a combination of Refill Butts, Hogsheads and Barrels. The vatted whisky was then allowed to mature for several months in active hogshead casks to impart a spicy/oaky note to the existing delicate Caol Ila smoke. Finally it was treated to a final gentle maturation in European oak.”
“Good Caol Ila with moderate peat profile on a complex spicy & fruity dram”
This dram has a gold-like color.
Nose (90): more than average. honey, peat, citrus, fruits, plums, spices, raisins.
Palate (89): powerful, oily. honey, peat, citrus, fruits, spices, vanilla, apples.
Finish (89): longer than average. peat, honey, spices.So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Caol Ila Feis Ile 2013 - Triple Matured with 89 points over 100.
Well, I missed the Bruichladdich, Kilchoman and Bunnahabhain bottles… one has to drink and live on a budget ( Does Diageo release a Port Ellen bottling for Feis Ile? )
I really love the Ardbog and Laphroaig whiskies. And of course the Lagavulin dram that delivers what its promise. The most surprising malt has probably been the Bowmore whisky for its delicious fig aromas.
One of these days I must really go to Islay for Feis Ile ( or any other excuse ).
Were you at Feis Ile? Which was your favourite whisky there?