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Whisky Castle Gifts
Eight Great names make up the working distilleries on the Island of Islay. The death of the Port Ellen brings us to nine where expressions are still available, but at a great price. So distinct and revered are the malts from Islay, that the Island has become legend and a region to itself. They are :
Ardbeg -Wonderful peaty dram from a Distillery miraculously ressurected by Glenmorangie PLC. Collectable and fantastically drinkable! Tenderly marketed this dram has become number one and the most sort after of the Islay drams in recent years.
Bunnahabain - Thick and oily and not so heavily peated as its neighbours. Normal distillery editions used to be at 40% vol and were lacklustre but now bottled at 46% alc/vol and above, especially when given a few extra years and or a sherry cask by Independent bottlers, then -"What a dram"!
Bruichladdich - The "Laddie" under the direction of Jim McKewan and the fantastic team of stawlwarts from Murray McDavid have injected so much life into the "Laddie", that it is now known World wide for a creamy succulent dram at 46% vol and cask stength. With all its many labels, small batch casking, varied levels of peating and differing woods it has becaome a boutique whisky of the highest order!
Bowmore - This is a dram best found bottled from casks in the hands of Independent bottlers or when Bowmore masters a small batch bottling at 46%alc/vol plus. With normal expressions at 40% vol, chilfiltering and colorisation for the World market has dimmed the clarity of this once bright shining distillery dram. The Bowmore still makes its own maltings on site and for everything else but the modern methodologies at bottling is spellbinding and traditional.
Caol Ila - Commercial and the essential peated mainstream for Diageo blends on a grand scale, but what a wonderful light tantalising peated dram from this still . Especially when the Independent bottlers have had a cask in hand for some years. Some say better than the old Port Ellen - Well hardly - but when the cask is great wood - Well? - Who wants to argue?
Kilhoman - The newest and smallest distillery on the Island (She makes approximately just under 20 casks per week) but what spirit! At three and four years old this is the most drinkable dram at that age we have tasted at Whisky Castle! Join the adventure!
Lagavulin - A Queen amongst the Islay Malts. Peated but always with underlying complexity . Would be much better if left unchilfiltered but then again that's the Diageo way, save for the cask strength expression. The double matured "Distillers Edition" finished in sherry casks is phenominal.
Laphroig - The ten year old is a supermarket miracle, bringing heavily peated malt to the mass market but when bottled with a few more years on it, or as a single cask , whether sherry, port or bourbon oak, this dram can be called the "King of Islay Malts".
Port Ellen - Long lost to the malting factory at Port Ellen, the warehouses still beckon to the curious to wonder if any of the old Port Ellen casks lie within. No! -it has long gone left the island. Diageo has brought out 12 expressions of the Port Ellen over the last10 years, most of them we feel are sitting on collector's shelves at the prices they command. Most noble expressions of this very rare dram with nothing left under 27 years old, are held by Douglas Laing Ltd. With this Independent bottler they are still affordable and therefore still drinkable. Slainte Mhaith!
One can honestly say when judging one malt against another from Islay, to do so is superfiscial at least. However, if we are to suffer from such human frailty, then we can only conclude that all eight distilleries to be found producing whisky on Islay today, are amongst the very top of the very best there are in Scotland.
Mike Drury - Whisky Castle Ltd.