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Wednesday 28 May 2008

Feis Ile Day Four (Part 2): Dexy's Midnight Liars

Part Two: Dexy's Midnight Liars

Now the day could begin as we set off, resplendent in our tweed for a tasting with Billy Stitchell, the Operations Manager at Caol Ila. Hidden away in a store house, with casks of Caol Ila around us and their sister distillery, Lagavulin. The tasting comprised of 7 expressions from the distillery, including 2 new-make spirits and a bottling only available at the distillery from 2007’s Feis Ile.

The Distillers Edition (finished in Muscadet wine barrels for six months) was probably the most interesting of the tastings- disappointingly, they had decided to omit the 18 YO which we’d regard as our favourite from the Caol Ila range. (the scoop here is that Diageo need all remaining allocated stocks of 18 YO for their premium Johnnie Walker blends, such as the centenary edition Gold and Blue Labels.

Onward from Caol Ila, to nip around the corner to Bunnahabhain where we tried their Feis Ile bottling:

Bunnahabhain – 21 Yo – OB – Dist 1986 – 512 Bottles – 46.7% Vol – 70cl

Nose: rich sherry and marzipan hit the nostrils like and indulgent Christmas cake, followed by almonds salt and the faintest whiffs of dying embers.

Palate: A rich, oily mouth-feel with masses of honeycomb and chocolate (crunchy bar, anyone?) followed by sweet fudge undertone and hints of malt.

Finish: Long, smooth with hints of woody spice, balanced off with cocoa and raisin.

Overall: A really drinkable and enjoyable dram. The downside here is the price, which at nearly £200 doesn’t mirror the fair play of some of the other Feis Ile releases.

With nostrils refreshed by a swift briney costal walk (god, did we need it after such an early start!) and bellies full of a sumptuous sausage casserole, our next challenge was the traditional blind nosing competition, held at Ramsay Hall in Port Ellen.

The principal was simple- identify 10 island malts from identical blue glasses, including 2 new make spirits, purely by their distinct aromas. In practice, this proved harder than Caskstrength imagined....

After much to’ing and fro’ing from various stalls (and with some light-hearted National Rivalry at stake with some Dutch Malt fans) our choices were made. Some newly made local friends also kindly gave us their entry form (which we filled out and entered as a former Dexy’s Midnight Runner, who shall remain nameless!)

The end result was tensely waited for over a dram of Lagavulin 16.... and.....

Well- we didn’t win, but got a respectable 7/10 which made us nose-happy. Congratulations to Anders who won the event with an amazing 9/10 and Angus with 8.

Avoiding the midges we headed home, proudly patting our prized proboscis’s!!