New Whiskies

Fèis Ìle 2017 Batch 2

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Feis Ile 2017 Batch 2

In the second set of notes for the official Fèis Ìle 2017 bottlings, Dave Broom and Becky Paskin share tasting duties. Broom starts with a Bunnahabhain duo: one aged in American oak, the other, the distillery’s peated Moine variant, matured in a Port pipe, adding a ‘subtle layer of mystery’.

Then it’s on to a 12-year-old Caol Ila, finished in an amoroso Sherry cask, giving subtle blue fruit flavours and a sparkling quality.

Paskin finds some trademark Jura characteristics in the distillery’s Tastival 2017 bottling, including a signature citrus flavour and an exotic mix of fruit, spice and Turkish Delight.

Aged in both Sherry and ex-Bourbon casks, Kilchoman’s 100% Islay Fèis bottling demonstrates maturity beyond its years and leaves Broom’s palate singing.

Paskin needs water to calm the heat on Lagavulin’s Fèis 16-year-old, before Broom concludes this year’s official Islay Festival drams with another Kildalton favourite: Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bunnahabhain American Oak

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain American Oak
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    The russet colour of a summer sunset. There’s no doubt of the American oak influence here. Slip it into a blind tasting and you might be fooled into thinking it’s a Bourbon. There’s cherry Tunes, mace, coriander, cherry stone and ginger syrup, before hard toffee and coconut come through. You need some water to break the oak-driven concentration and bring out banana chips and chocolate mousse, though in time the oak crunches back.

    Palate

    The wood has been retained, but you’ve now got an intriguing extra element of dandelion and burdock, thick cherry pie sweetness, more black fruits and thick cream. Big, sweet and bold with a dry mid-palate grip.

    Finish

    Slightly astringent.

    Conclusion

    As you might have already gathered, this isn’t the most subtle Bunna’, but while the double whammy of ex-Bourbon cask and virgin oak finish has allowed the oak to drive things, it’s fun and will appeal to the American whiskey lovers out there.

    Right place, right time

    Eating cherry pie with the Log Lady.

    Dave Broom

    Bunnahabhain Moine Port Pipe

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain Moine Port Pipe
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Pleasingly softly peated nose with a hint of bicycle repair kit and skidding tyre, but the fruits are there to balance. There’s a hint of nuttiness, and then almond stone and garden bonfire. With water, there’s more smoke and an increase in walnut, and a smoked ham element.

    Palate

    Dry smoke to start, but the distillate has sweetness while the Port cask works well, adding some red fruit and sloe elements, along with a refreshing bitter twang that just adds a subtle layer of mystery – especially when combined with a hint of resin when the water is added.

    Finish

    Those tart black fruits mingling with peat. Long and balanced.

    Conclusion

    Give this time to get the full rewards. 

    Right place, right time

    Changing a flat tyre in the Douro Valley.

    Dave Broom

    Caol Ila 12 Years Old (Fèis Ìle 2017)

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 12 Years Old (Fèis Ìle 2017)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Intense and slightly soapy to start with. There’s a solidly assertive oyster brine element alongside salty pebbles. Manages to combine a crisp, clean nature with some sweetness, pepperiness and a hint of blue fruits. Water amplifies the shoreline element by adding a squeeze of lemon to the oysters. More smoke now emerges, along with an earthy, darker fruit.

    Palate

    Smoke once more and an unexpected sparkling effect like a peaty prosecco that then shifts to that subtle blue fruit element in the centre of the tongue. Subtle and with decent length.

    Finish

    Smoke. Clean.

    Conclusion

    The finishing cask influence is very – surprisingly – discreet.

    Right place, right time

    An oyster farmer being goosed by a drunken cougar.

    Dave Broom

    Jura Tastival 2017

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Jura Tastival 2017
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    An immediate reminder that this is Jura as the distillery’s trademark citric hit appears as red grapefruit zest – verging on green Fruit Pastilles – before sweet toffee, ripe plums and liquorice meander in behind.

    Palate

    Tinned peaches and fruits of the forest interplay with floral and floury Turkish Delight. The palate is soft to start, crescendoing into black pepper, wood spice and smoke. Water teases out a slight savoury saltiness.

    Finish

    More soft wood spice and a lingering taste of burnt honeycomb.

    Conclusion

    Soft, fruity and rich, with a citric and wood spice bite.

    Right place, right time

    Eating key lime pie in the sauna. Someone keeps adding rosewater to the steam.

    Becky Paskin

    Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2017 Release 100% Islay

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2017 Release 100% Islay
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    This is a mix of two casks: Sherry butt and ex-Bourbon, and it is the former which takes the lead on the nose, giving a deep, fruity element with soft citrus notes and dried fruit, while some heathery moor burn touches smoulder behind. Though the smoke is slightly more upfront than is often the case with this expression, it doesn’t obscure what lies alongside: creamy barley, bay leaf, clove, salt marsh and herbs. When water is added there’s more toffee-ed American oak elements and the smoke seems to edge back. In its place comes seaside rock and a touch of antiseptic, alongside spice.

    Palate

    Intense and pretty hot initially. The American oak now adds a chocolate element which melds with the raisin. The smoke takes a little moment to get going and in time opens to heavier smoke and cinnamon. With water, there’s citrus and an added mineral quality, but not at the expense of Kilchoman’s thick texture. When water is added there’s more sandy elements.

    Finish

    Long, smoky and slightly peppery. Delicious.

    Conclusion

    Great balance and despite ‘only’ being from 2008 and 2009, it’s mature. Just lovely.

    Right place, right time

    George Formby heads north.

    Dave Broom

    Lagavulin 16 Years Old (Fèis Ìle 2017)

    Score 7.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Lagavulin 16 Years Old (Fèis Ìle 2017)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Pecan pie and nougat, plum stone and apricot skin. Fresh malt lingers in the background, while soft smoke runs through it. A faint grape must note nips at its heels. 

    Palate

    At cask strength it’s spicy up front, before cooked plums and rich dried fruit cake emerge beneath the heat. Then bitter lemon peel and an onslaught of smoke. The texture is thick and round, but that heat! Water softens the blow, bringing the peat to the fore.

    Finish

    It’s hot, and the smoke subsides very gradually, a kick of fruit cake – dusted lightly with dark chocolate shavings this time – comes back for a second wind.

    Conclusion

    Musty, rich fruit notes provide a welcome twist on the classic Lagavulin 16-year-old, but it needs water.

    Right place, right time

    Eating overripe grapes on the top deck of a CalMac ferry on a blustery day.

    Becky Paskin

    Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Given how poky the alcohol level is, this is surprisingly soft and gentle. Some light spices and Laphroaig’s pine-like element. In time you get a note like dentist’s mouthwash, Oddfellows (cinnamon dust) and a Tequila-like, vegetal sweetness suggesting youth. With water, there’s smoke and mentholated pine sap, and more shoreline elements.

    Palate

    Hot, with this interesting mix between the mintiness and those tarry elements, with added nutty elements. Generally smokier. It actually begins to lose impact when water is added.

    Finish

    Lightly medicinal smoke. The dentist reappears. Clean.

    Conclusion

    Another one aimed at the approachable, easi(er)-drinking style. And while it works there’s not as much going on here as, say, with the Kelpie, Caol Ila or Bowmore 11-year-old.

    Right place, right time

    A fire in a Christmas tree plantation.

    Dave Broom

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