This is a review of a blended whisky which carries an age statement, has nice packaging and has been a stable in whisky collections for decades.
The Islay Mist brand story starts at Islay House in 1922 when a bespoke blend was created for the 21st birthday party for the son of the Laird of Islay. The story being that a blend was created to tone down the aggressive qualities of Laphroaig. The blend ended up being so well received by the guests that a new brand was started to sell it by the owners of Laphroaig itself.
The modern day Islay Mist brand is owned by MacDuff International who are based in Glasgow. The rights to the Islay Mist brand having been bought from Allied Domecq in 1992 along with two other brands namely Lauders and Grand MacNish both of which are also blended whiskies.
These brands were the first brands bought when starting the MacDuff International company and appear to still be the only brands the company operates. Those brands have been showing strong growth for the company however with travel retail sales up 36% for their Lauders brand making them the 6th largest supplier of whisky in the travel retail sector. An interesting development for the company is a partnership with InchDairnie distillery which will provide whisky for their brands in the future.
The Islay Mist series comes in a number of different variants including
- Peated Reserve
- 8 year old
- 12 year old
- 17 year old
The 12 year old we are reviewing today comes in a nice strong cardboard presentation style carton. It has a good quality feel to it and adds to the experience of what is a very competitively priced blended whisky. This is a blend so it contains both grain and malt whiskies which include Laphroaig and bottled at 40%. The prices of this vary a lot but a representative price is £28.33 available here. Since it is a blend it can be taken as a given this is coloured and filtered but we aren’t quite so judgy when it comes to blends for some reason.
Colour – dark orange
Nose – barley sugars initially from the grain. There is peat but it is quite soft but it adds a dirty feel to the fruity apple and pear notes. Coriander or parsley complete the nose.
Palate – light dairy fudgy flavours in the arrival leading to a charcoal development
Finish – the finish is bitter sweet which is not very prolonged. More of the ash complexity you might expect from Islay malts
This took a little getting into for me. The combination of grain and that distinctive Laphroaig peat smoke is definitely unusual. The thing I was struggling with was is it enjoyable unusual or is it a challenge to drink. As the bottle has gone down though the unbalanced nature between the grain and malts has subsided and it is more restrained and the vegetation notes are more pronounced. This is an awful lot better than more well known blends where the grain is just too young and making up too much of the recipe. I am interested to try out a sample of the 17 year old and see what differences their are over this 12 year old bottle.