New Whiskies

Batch 97

by
New whisky tasting notes Batch 97

One of the biggest Scotch whisky festivals, Fèis Ìle, officially opens for business today. So to mark the occasion and kick off our festival coverage, Dave Broom has selected six new Islay whiskies to taste. He starts with Bowmore No 1, recently launched to replace the brand’s entry-level NAS (no-age-statement) expression Bowmore Small Batch.

Next comes a 23-year-old Bruichladdich from independent bottler Cadenhead, with hints of floral and nutty notes, before Broom progresses to a nine-year-old Islay blended malt, also from Cadenhead, that would be perfect for a smoky Highball.

Duncan Taylor then puts forward two Islay blended malts, both aged 19 years, one with a ‘seashore-like sweetness’ and the other with notes of praline, dates and sultanas.

Finishing this Islay-themed batch is Kilchoman’s seventh edition 100% Islay bottling, with its aromatic, maritime elements. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bowmore No 1

    Bowmore No 1
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    One of the nutty Bowmores: dry, but scented like a bluebell wood before light. Woozy smoke: burning seaweed, incense begins to come across. In time, you pick up coconut matting, nutmeg and turmeric. Water brings the nuts back in force.

    Palate

    A sweet and nutty start, and while the smoke is there it’s low in the mix. A little flabby in the centre. Easy-drinking, but strangely flat. With water, things become sweeter (cooked rhubarb) and more slick. The length is extended.

    Finish

    Light chocolate, more smoke, then sugar.

    Conclusion

    Works as a non-confrontational, non-scary introduction, but the mid-palate lets the side down.

    Right place, right time

    A well-meaning supply teacher…

    Bruichladdich 23 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Bruichladdich 23 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Light colour, suggestive of refill. Floral and heady; meadowsweet, cut grass, then draff. Interesting to compare the pre- and post-sale distillery style. This has fewer farmyard elements, more cereal and is slightly less sweet. In time, bulrushes and new beech leaves, plus there’s verjus and cider vinegar, then fino Sherry yeastiness and almond. 

    Palate

    A slow, soft creep of flavours – floral elements, hints of peanut, but it seems to go to sleep in the centre. Picks up a lemony acidity on the end. Water softens things to the point of invisibility. 

    Finish

    Sparkling elderflower.

    Conclusion

    If only it had a bigger impact in the centre… 

    Right place, right time

    …absent-mindedly eating the digestive biscuit crumbs in his pocket…

    Islay Single Cask 9 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Islay Single Cask 9 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    59.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Ouch, that heat! A flinty opening. Seashore and smoked mussels, minerality and dry. Seasoned flour, a touch of horseradish and balanced smoke. Water adds a hot sand element, more smoke and a briny note.

    Palate

    Scented – Parma Violets this time, but the heat is a real barrier. Water softens things, allowing the violet to return with lemon – a whisky Aviation? – while smoke kicks through.

    Finish

    Mineral salts.

    Conclusion

    Light, but the way it behaves with increasing amounts of water suggests it’s a prime candidate for a smoky Highball.

    Right place, right time

    …while fantasising about sipping Pouilly-Fumé with a platter of fruits de mer

    Islay 19 Years Old ‘Dimensions’ (Duncan Taylor)

    Islay 19 Years Old ‘Dimensions’ (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Fresh touches of buttery herbs, meadow flowers, low smoke and some intensity. More earthy than the other examples this week, adding touches of moss and humus to the background. Water pulls out more red fruits.

    Palate

    A soft start, with the smoke spreading underneath the radar, adding a starchy dryness. By the middle there’s a seashore-like sweetness – smoked halibut? – then increasing iodine, kelp. Water makes things more easy-going and integrated. 

    Finish

    All the flavours seem compressed into here: grass, smoke, pickled strawberry.

    Conclusion

    Saved by the back palate. A solid performer.

    Right place, right time

    …served on a starched tablecloth on the machair

    Islay 19 Years Old ‘Octave’ (Duncan Taylor)

    Islay 19 Years Old ‘Octave’ (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.4%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    More charred smoke than the Dimensions: spent fire, hard toffee and some maltiness that takes things towards praline, alongside date and sultana. Water allows all the elements to cohere slightly better.

    Palate

    Has the same soft start as its sister, opens up to dried fruits, scented pepper – and indeed peppermint – and, when neat, a fair whack of heat. There’s better control when water is added, which allows the smoke to run the length of the palate.

    Finish

    Long and peaty.

    Conclusion

    When lightly diluted it’s balanced, appetising and sound.

    Right place, right time

    while Eartha Kitt growls

    Kilchoman 100% Islay 7th Edition

    Kilchoman 100% Islay 7th Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    The dustiness of harvest time mixed with plump fruits, ripe pear, crabapple, fruit blossom and light vanilla. The alcohol is well-controlled. Becomes increasingly green – especially with water – rocket (arugula), a just-strimmed garden and angelica’s mysterious dustiness. 

    Palate

    Not at all hot, showing good cask development with the distillery’s creaminess and thickness coming through along with the same dusted element seen on the nose. Lightly smoked and well-balanced, especially on the back palate where it becomes more aromatic with touches of maritime elements. With water, you lose the creaminess and things dry significantly. 

    Finish

    Light spice. Delicate, with good length.

    Conclusion

    Good and showing some complexity.

    Right place, right time

    and the thrashers roll on by.

Scroll To Top