New Whiskies

Batch 58

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Batch 58 new whisky tasting notes

Leading the way in this plethora of peaty drams is one of four new Elements of Islay releases, this one being from Ardbeg (and what a cracker it is). Following suit is a nine-year-old Bowmore expression and a smokier interpretation of Johnnie Walker Green Label. The latter half of the tasting features the final three Elements of Islay whiskies, with a new addition cask strength (they’re not messing around here) Bruichladdich, an impressive Laphroaig and a cheesy Bunnahabhain. And as a treat for the ears, Dave Broom has also selected a smoky soundtrack to sip along to. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Ar6, Elements of Islay

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ar6, Elements of Islay
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Extremely sound, rich Ardbeg with plenty of that desired heft, which brings to mind oiled leather, tack room, cod liver oil and dubbin. There’s also sweetness behind and, in time, a perfumed element. Elegant, complex and highly recommended.

    Palate

    One of those stealth Ardbegs which ooze into the mouth, starting sweet and caramelised and then building in power and phenol until you are exhaling tarriness. All the phenolics on the nose return, but the whole package is balanced by the sugared heart. Water brings the smoky element forward.

    Finish

    Long and slightly savoury end. Smoked haddock and miso. 

    Conclusion

    Truly excellent. A must-have for peat heads. Simple as that. 

    Right place, right time

    Big, complex, multi-faceted, scary, yet calming – it’s time for the Wolf.

    Bowmore 9 Years Old

    Score 6.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bowmore 9 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Fresh – salty winkles – but with a slight rubbery note, neoprene boots and then a sweet, melted cacao element from the (oloroso) cask. It’s slightly jumbled, with the spirit in one place and the wood sitting – slightly sulkily – in the other. A young Darkest, but with less depth.

    Palate

    More coherent than the nose. Sweeter too, with hints of plum, date and a buzz of smoke. It has decent length when neat and, while not hugely complex, is well balanced enough. Water, however, doesn’t help, reducing the impact and shortening the delivery.

    Finish

    Short. Lightly smoked with a return of the chocolate.

    Conclusion

    A new ‘everyday’ Bowmore and fair play to have the balls to launch a nine-year-old in today’s climate. It’s a decent dram, just not quite fully integrated and slightly short – 43% might well have helped.

    Right place, right time

    Young, sweet, fresh. Just catching a-fire.

    Johnnie Walker Island Green

    Score 7.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Johnnie Walker Island Green
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Opens with a very ‘Walker’ nose: depth, generosity and, as promised, is more obviously smoked than the standard Green; but there is still that signature moss/pine/chypre element. The overall effect is smoking herbs by the seashore. Strangely, this richness begins to lift off and things become more sappy (birch/pine) and slightly tighter. Water pulls this element forward further, introducing an increasingly cool, mineral/marine element. It’s begging for ice and soda.

    Palate

    It’s not smoky as in Double Black, rather the island influence is more maritime – fresh, saline and mineral. The softness seen initially on the nose is retained, adding a soft, full texture to the mid-palate, along with tulips, hyacinths and other waxy flowers. This softness – and length – is retained when diluted, indicating good potential for mixing. 

    Finish

    Back to minerality.

    Conclusion

    Green has long been one of my favourite Walker expressions, so a treat to see it back. This is a clever variation on the theme. 

    Right place, right time

    Shooting oysters in the face of a stiff onshore breeze. There are smoke signals through the trees

    Ln1, Elements of Islay

    Score 6.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ln1, Elements of Islay
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    62.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    How strong? This opens with big cowshed notes, with a hint of the milking machine in the background. This slightly curdled element dominates the (neat) nose, along with dried kelp and toasted cereal. Water, however, removes the lactic element, adding honeyed sweetness and lemon flowers.

    Palate

    Considerably better and more expressive when neat and, while there’s a high nose burn, it has the distillery’s unctuous palate and slow glow of almost spent wood embers towards the finish. Water brings out the florals and the balance clicks into place – it’s like two different whiskies. It’s as if this buttermilk element on the nose is transformed into a textural quality on the tongue. The peat is medium in intensity. 

    Finish

    Honey and a little sour cream. 

    Conclusion

    A new addition to the range. Ln stands for ‘Lochindaal’, a heavily peated Bruichladdich. Add water from the off and you’ll be happy.

    Right place, right time

    Soft and honeyed, yet smoky. It can only be Case/Lang/Veirs.

    Lp7, Elements of Islay

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Lp7, Elements of Islay
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Wow! A huge aromatic blast from the off – Guerlain Vetiver for those who are interested (hello, Dr Lumsden). Some light (and indeed lit) heather, cold Moroccan tea (with extra mint), a whiff of barley and damp earth. Laphroaig firing on all cylinders with those slightly atypical herbal elements. There’s low smoke, but big phenolic elements. Water makes it a little harder.

    Palate

    Firmer than the Ardbeg and more explosive in its delivery. Whereas that sneaked in, this has energy from the off: salt spray, seaweed, fresh creosote, medicinal, but always this scented green element. Water makes things a little lighter in terms of delivery, but mintier, with a texture like sucking a chalk pebble. Has real length with growing intensity as it progresses.

    Finish

    Complex and now suddenly begins to fill out.

    Conclusion

    An excellent Laphroaig that will please newbies and fans alike.

    Right place, right time

    One for the gloaming when the lights are dim and the smoke is thick. Take it away, Messrs Flatt & Scruggs.

    Ma1, Elements of Islay

    Score 5.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ma1, Elements of Islay
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Like a shepherd’s old woollen sock after a two-day tramp through a peat bog. A really weird mix of (sweaty) cheese and nuts, with some smoke also trying to inveigle itself. With water it becomes Ledaig-like with the flock, wool dripping with lanolin, munching on mangelwurzels.

    Palate

    Touches of rubber (typical of young, peaty whisky), then oil and a slight grubbiness. Water makes it more peppery but, slowly, some control starts and you notice sugared almond, pleasant earthiness, digestive biscuit and iodine. At last it redeems itself... almost.

    Finish

    Medium length with the smoke breaking free. 

    Conclusion

    Another of the new boys, the Ma stands for ‘Margadale’, a heavily peated Bunnahabhain. It needs time and water to show itself, but even then it’s hard to love.

    Right place, right time

    The ghost of the Islay cheese factory is summoned from the ashes. Everything’s gone Up In Smoke.

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