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Thursday, 29 May 2008

Feis Ile Day Seven: “Is That A Bearded Roy Orbison Driving A Kia?”

Day Seven: “Is That A Bearded Roy Orbison Driving A Kia?”

Today was the turn of Laphroaig, the choice distillery of the Prince of Wales who arrives on the island next week for a visit. This, along with the Feis Ile, means that the white walls of Laphroaig are shining brighter than usual to welcome us in for our morning tasting. On show, and presented with some traditional Scottish toasting by the North American Master Brand Ambassador, Simon Brooking, were the Laphroaig 10 YO Cask Strength, last years Feis Ile bottling and this years offering “Cairdeas”.

Laphroaig – 10 YO – Cask Strength – OB – 70cl – 55.7% Vol

Nose: Liquorice, lots of cereal, peat and classic Laphroaig brine.

Palate: An intense sweetness, cereal again, seaweed, iodine and more brine.

Finish: Long, more warming peat and apple sweetness.

Overall: Another big hitter from Laphroaig, a tad too abrasive in places and lacking in subtlety.

Laphroaig – 1989 – 17 YO – First Fill Bourbon - 5000 Bottles – Feis Ile 2007 Bottling – 70cl - 50.3% vol

Nose: Sweet, creamy, but backed with a real earthiness. A second nose gives a real underlying nuttiness; perhaps hazelnuts?

Palate: There’s those hazelnuts again. Almonds / Marzipan. Honey, oiliness and brittle sherbet.

Finish: A very subtle dryness, but more of the nutty flavours which means this dram develops incredibly well across the palate. Note: the amazing legs on this.

Overall: An excellent Laphroaig. Shame it only made 5000 bottles but well done if you secured one last year.

Laphroaig – Cairdeas – NAS – Feis Ile Bottling 2008 – 70cl - 55%Vol

Nose: Weak Earl Grey tea, sweet mint and cereal again, followed by freshly cut apples and hints of Darjeeling.

Palate: Coffee, sweetness, brown sugar and more cereal. Pretty darnn weak, especially for a whisky at 55%.

Finish: The best bit, with green apples, hints of smoke and grass. A firecracker finish of popping candy and gun powder.

Overall: Unimpressed. Nothing stands out with this bottling. This was blown away by the 1989, last years Feis Ile offering.

From Laphroaig to a hair-raising drive up to Port Askaig, in time for the lunchtime ferry over to Jura for their open day.

For anyone who hasn’t ventured this far on their previous Feis Ile trips, try and make the time next time around. The road through the island is a wonderful drive, passing some great, stop-you-in-your-tracks views and scenery.

Sadly our first cock-up of the adventure occurred – on arrival to the distillery we found they only took cash in payment for the blending and master class we were due to enjoy, leaving us in a quandary- turn around and head back, or explore the rest of the island. We plumped for the latter and it was clearly the right decision, as you’ll see from this picture....

In terms of whisky, Jura are doing a quadruple festival release this year- entitled ‘The Elements’ (Earth, Wind, Air and Fire, clever eh...) this is a limited bottling, encased in a leather holdall. Looks nice, but at £450 not something that really appeals to us at Caskstrength. (Rather like the ridiculous Ardbeg Double-Barrel, or a mini version of it).

This evening heralds a dance at Lagavulin. If the music is loud enough and the dancing wild, it may just be enough to distract the distillery workers while we nip into Warehouse no.1 and roll away cask number 4504... fingers crossed, huh!