When I was given the opportunity to sample the three Scotch Malt Whisky Society released for the annual Islay whisky festival, Feis ile, well, I jumped at the chance, three releases ranging from a 8 Year Old Laphroaig to a mind bending twenty year old Bowmore with a cheeky Bunnahabhain in the middle.
I have received a sample pack from SMWS and I’ll also be given a cut if you are to buy from clicking the links below, just to make my transparency 100% clear.
So, shall we crack on with getting these reviewed? Mon’ then.
All of these are proper strong whiskies but each required different water levels.
Weaving Wondrous Dreams. Cask Number 29.244 (Laphroaig) Refill Ex Bourbon
8 Years Old, 62.2% requires just a drop of water though to soften the punchy young whisky.
This whisky will only be available to buy on Islay at the time of the festival.
Nose. Salty, smoked seaweed, like walking down the beach at low tide, charred barrel, lime pickle, salt and chilli chips (from a Chinese Takeaway), not as punchy as you might expect from over 60% and 8 years old, after half an hour of trying this a touch of sweet lemon bon bons, smoked haddock too, lovely.
Palate. Initial chilli and cracked black pepper corn heat, hotdogs cooked in brine with a touch of sweet chili sauce (this isn’t a bad thing by the way), the sweetness comes on to give some strawberry jam notes, touch of aniseed, all over the shop this.
Finish. Short, chilli, bbq smoke and icing sugar notes linger.
A young, stormy number this, I prefer younger Laphroaig, anything over 10 years is too much for me so this is ideal.
Indulgence by the Sea Cask Number 10.141 (Bunnahahbain) Refill Barrel Ex Bourbon.
12 Years Old 59.5% Needs almost no water at all, quite the delicate sipper for something so powerful, does prefer a good half hour in the glass before you go anywhere near it.
(Fan boy alert, I love Bunnahabhain, all of them, never had a poor bottle)
Nose. Must have used a superb bourbon barrel for this, charred oak, salted candyfloss (which really should be a thing) powdered drinking chocolate, treacle tart, tiny touch of sea salt covered raspberry jam.
Palate. More salty on the palate than the nose, oak, prawn cocktail crisps (Yeah, I said that), sweetness again, dark chocolate with dried strawberries, honey covered pan au chocolat.
Finish. The cask is back, honey and vanilla notes sit forever with a charred barrel saying hi too.
This is very decent indeed.
A journey into joy Cask Number 3.307 (Bowmore) Refill But Ex Oloroso.
20 Years Old 55.9% A teaspoon of water required here.
Nose. Delicate, smoked and roasted macadamia nuts, marzipan and nutmeg, orange custard tarts (that’s a thing, right?) orange honey, crystallised ginger.
Palate. The initial feel is smoke but it calms almost immediately, honey, clove and ham with roasted orange slices, served with a sweet mustard and honey sauce, smoked thyme (which I do all the time on the bbq so I know that’s a thing) toffee coated hazelnuts.
Finish. Ginger, thyme and a touch of smoke for a long finish.
A serious whisky this, not for beginners, there is so much going on it might overwhelm people, I’m not a massive fan of the core Bowmore range but Independents and anything of a higher strength is pretty much always a winner.
These are the three I sampled, links to buy are in the review and have some other links.