New Whiskies

Batch 98

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 98

As the 2017 Islay Festival draws to a close this weekend, Dave Broom is here to tell you a story inspired by a new set of Islay whiskies.

It’s about a farmer who longed to be a rock star, and starts with a 2011 Bunnahabhain single malt matured for five years in oak casks and four months in octave casks, with light wood smoke and a touch of raspberry leaf on the nose.

The farmer is then swept up in a daydream back to his youth, while tasting a 25-year-old Sherried Bunnahabhain, with aromas of leather-bound books, fig rolls and coffee.

The dream continues with a 28-year-old Bunnahabhain, with its minty, peach and tobacco-like flavours, as a hippy girl joins the narrative.

A seven-year-old Caol Ila then brings a breath of clean sea air, before the farmer is washed ashore with a smoky, sweeter eight-year-old Caol Ila.

We won’t give away the ending… all we can say is that it involves a 33-year-old Caol Ila.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bunnahabhain 2011 ‘Octave’ (Duncan Taylor)

    Score 7.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 2011 ‘Octave’ (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Shows good integration for its age, with less of the rubber and more light wood smoke mixed with orris, and garden bonfire. Velvety, with some raspberry leaf hints and just a touch of the farmyard – chicken feed and earth. Gets sweeter and more fern-like with water before a charred ember element.

    Palate

    Has Bunna’s very dry smokiness to start, along with a fair bit of palate heat. Needs a judicious splash of water, which adds some substance and a tweedy element.

    Finish

    Slightly tense.

    Conclusion

    Sound and attractive. 

    Right place, right time

    Though he loved the farm, he longed to be a rock star…

    Bunnahabhain 25 Years Old ‘Dimensions’ (Duncan Taylor)

    Score 8.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 25 Years Old ‘Dimensions’ (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Rich and mature, slightly figgy backed with a mix of ginger, mustard oil, candied peel and dubbin. Polished and elegant, but with this wild touch. Water brings forth leather-bound tomes, light meatiness and the scents of old apples. 

    Palate

    Shows its age slightly with drier tannins than you expect. Tree bark and Darjeeling tea, then some red fruits and fig roll. The grip loosens and in comes sweetened coffee. The same effect happens when lightly diluted.

    Finish

    Long, fruity, with a touch of Marmite.

    Conclusion

    Mature, refined, fascinating. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    …now surrounded by the flotsam of life, he smiled gently at memories of his raging youth… 

    Bunnahabhain 28 Years Old (Single Malts of Scotland)

    Score 8.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 28 Years Old (Single Malts of Scotland)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Significantly different to the Duncan Taylor, here things are less crepuscular and oak-influenced. Drier with some hazelnut, blackboard duster, peach and ginger syrup. Slowly picks up an aromatic depth, adding elements of white mushroom, patchouli and, with water, more apple, new wool socks and a hint of smoke.

    Palate

    Cool and minty, then white peach and tobacco-like. Finely structured, with silky tannins and an almost sugared element. Maybe just loses a little impact when water is added, but there’s a vinous depth with this interesting smoked ash element. 

    Finish

    Long and gentle.

    Conclusion

    Understated. One for whispering whisky lovers.

    Right place, right time

    …and how a hippy girl had calmed him down…

    Caol Ila 7 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 7.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 7 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Fairly hot with some burnt pastry, lemon tart, yeast and a light, chalky earthiness. The smoke, when neat, has a slightly blunt quality. Has some of young Caol Ila’s mezcal-esque features: agave softness, smoke and tomato leaf.  Water calms things down. 

    Palate

    A light start with vaporous smoke that moves to gentle pear and juniper elements, fir trees, a breath of sea air. When water is added, a rather delightful, soft, pillowy texture develops, with the smoke becoming more prominent at the end.

    Finish

    Salty and clean.

    Conclusion

    Clean and straightforward. The sensation of things coming together.

    Right place, right time

    and walked with him on the chalk downs listening to Shirley Collins

    Caol Ila 8 Years Old Small Batch (James Eadie)

    Score 7.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 8 Years Old Small Batch (James Eadie)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Firm, with some heat and low oak influence. A bready note comes through, along with barbecue cinders and a whiff of privet blossom. Water makes things more marine, but still with the effervescence of youth.

    Palate

    Here, you can tell how the oak is just beginning to round off the harder edges, adding elements of sweetness and greater control. The smoke is retained along with a green grape element. Water allows slightly better balance and drier smoke.

    Finish

    Mineral with some pear. A good smoky Highball dram.

    Conclusion

    Like all of the Eadie bottlings so far, it’s balanced and crowd-pleasing in style and price. Would just like to see the next step up.

    Right place, right time

    …before the sea washed him back on these beaches…

    Caol Ila 33 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 33 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    A quite amazing nose of toffee and fresh mint, apple, low – but fully integrated – smoke, cockles and winkles. Still intense after all these years. Water allows the mint – and added thyme – to return.

    Palate

    Relaxed with a sweet start. The smoke begins to show its hand in the centre, but it is when water is added that the full personality emerges. The light touch of oak and air has added subtle depth and an almost white Burgundian mix of nut, fruit and a hint of smoke.

    Finish

    Lilac, pear blossom and smoke. 

    Conclusion

    A delicious dram that seems ‘young’ but has a twinkle of wisdom.

    Right place, right time

    …to think of what might have been, and how it might have changed him for the worse.

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