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Saturday, 24 May 2008

Feis Ile Day One: "Old Wobbly Legs"

“Old Wobbly Legs”

Its midday on Friday and you know it’s going to be a good ‘un when, in the departures lounge of Heathrow airport you chat with a 1980’s footballing legend... Neil and I look at each other in amazement and without hesitation; “Sod the whisky!.... It’s Bruce Grobbelaar!” A brief chat ensues with the ex-Oxford United (and, er, Liverpool!) player and then it was time to think whisky.

On landing at Glasgow airport we swiftly locate our hired ‘Kia’ and its off down the A82 towards the awe inspiring views of the Kintyre Peninsula. And what a drive it is. (For the uninitiated, do not hire a Kia – try to get something resembling a Mark II Jag, for maximum enjoyment)
Our first stop finds us with the prospect of a cheeky dram with the lovely folks at Loch Fyne Whiskies, where we leave with three interesting miniatures; Old Malt Cask Dallas Dhu 21, Old Malt Cask Highland Park 23 and Loch Fyne’s very own blend.

Dallas Dhu - Old Malt Cask – 21 YO – Ex Sherry Wood – 50% Vol – 50ML

Nose: Too much sherry, a hint of sulphur, coal, apricot and tiny hints of Lavender. Rather like Sunday lunch at your ageing grandma’s cottage.

Palate: big sweetness, but sadly curbed by a rubberiness followed by what could be a promising cederwood hint, which comes and goes way too quickly.

Finish: perhaps hints of black coffee, zesty lemons and then dry, dry oak and chilli. Very quick.

Overall: Not how we had hoped to start off our malt mileage. We only purchased 50ml thank god. Clearly size does matter!!! In essence- this is more JR Hartley than JR Ewing....

Onwards to our homestead for the evening, the Hunting Lodge Hotel near Campbeltown. Famed for its award winning whisky bar, many of the 500+ has now gone due to new ownership. There is, however, a few gems left. Let’s get on with the reviews:

Royal Bracklar – Rare Malts – 20 Years Old – Dist. 1978, Bottled May 1998 – 59.8% Vol – 70cl

Nose: Grassy. A huge alcohol hit (as you would expect from 59.8%) with hints of coal dust and a dry nose.


Without Water: Spices, Chillies, totally overbearing.

With Water: Much better. Much more open with big fruit notes of strawberry and grapefruit coming through. Subtle but nice.


Without Water: packs a punch with oak and not much else

With Water: Cream adds to the strawberry flavours. A touch of bitterness from the grapefruit and a short, clean end.

Overall: Not bad, but not astonishing either. I expected more from this Rare Malt (always a bad thing to do) and it let me down, until the addition of a little water when it really came to life. Good but not great.

Tomintoul – Mackillops Choice – 35 YO – Dist. 1966 – Cask 6073 – 46.5% Vol – 70cl

Nose: Syrup, candied pears, Demerara. (i.e.- very sweet). Infused with hints of heather, strawberry and marzipan.

Palate: Cinnamon, “all spice” mix and cedar wood. Hints of desiccated coconut and cream at the death. Due to it’s age, the oak clearly shows through later on the palate.

Finish: A zesty burst of alcohol (a cask strength whisky at 46.5%. Wow! This is really showing it’s age!). More hints of fruit and cedar return. Again, dry oak and hints of bitterness.

Overall: Extremely pleasant sweet and spicy malt, but a little too old now to be considered a great. A bit like Bruce Grobbelaar, really...

Tomorrow the fun really starts with our ferry over to Islay, but it is an early start. So time to get some much needed kip before we hit the fabled shores.