This is a seriously interesting bottling that I have been looking forward to trying. I love Islay and I love the whiskies that are produced there. With 8 distilleries now working flat out to meet demand it is almost a condensed version of all the styles available on the mainland. There really is something for everyone now.
The “That Boutique-y Whisky Company” is a relatively new bottler on the market. They are owned by Atom Supplies Ltd which also own the Master of Malt website. The expressions are available from time to time in other high street retailers but very rarely. They have a good reputation for interesting high quality whiskies. It seems to me they prefer to bottle a cask which is quite different to the “House Style” of that distillery. That might not be a conscious strategy but it is something other reviewers have picked up on in the past.
The brand is marketed towards the more youthful whisky drinker with the quirky banter on their website and interesting artistic labels. I find them really interesting and engaging but I have seen a lot of comments from people who really find it quite a turn off. The bottles are also unfortunately all 50cl which i really do not like. I feel short changed in some ways but also manipulated. That impulse “oh thats cool and what a price!” becomes a “hmm yeh well actually scaled up to a full bottle its not that great” realisation.
In their favour however they are a leader in the fight for transparency in the whisky we are buying. From these expressions you can expect age statements, natural colour, no filtration and even details on components in any blends. This is a big deal for me, not because I have a problem with No Age Statements (NAS). I do however, have a problem with not being given the full picture while being expected to pay the full price.
As an example below is an image of the “full size” bottle and label.
With that out of the way lets talk about the liquid. At the end of the day does anything else really matter?
This malt blend has an age-statement of 23 years (I know!) and we are told the components are: 60% Ardbeg (I know!!), 35% Laphroaig and 5% Bowmore. Now if you asked me to rate and weight those 3 distilleries that would be the order I would give you. This is also got a decent 46.3% ABV. This batch 1 is sold out so our only hope now is the auction sites or waiting (hoping) for batch 2.
On paper then we are on to a winner but does the reality match up?
Colour – deep golden yellow
Nose – so much going on. sharp brine, BBQ on the beach. vibrant and fresh. Lemon serbet. Nose really works for me
Palate(no water) – ashy but vibrant. It bursts smoke and woody spices.
Palate(water) – dials own the ashy and dials up the spice
Finish(no water) – long long smoky ashy finish. old leather armchair your grandfather smoked his pipe in. overcooked popcorn that has turned black
Finish(water) – fruit appears for the first time. jammy
This is exactly what a blend should be. It is more than the sum of it’s parts. It has this vibrant coastal nose but deep dark ashen finish. A real journey in a glass leaving me imagining well charred old old casks. This was £82 when it was available. I should have bought it then and I will be looking out for the second batch if we get one soon. If not I will have my eye on the auction sites.