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Monday, 4 May 2009

Nearly a ton of whisky and several frantically flung flying fish.

Nearly a ton of whisky and several frantically flung flying fish.

Now, there's an abstract title for a whisky post.  But as mad as it may seem, all in a days work for caskstrength. Friday saw us sampling a mammoth 98 whiskies in the space of a few hours, which if swallowed, would surely require some kind of superhuman liver... or no liver at all.  (sadly, we only fully consumed a few, but they were all crackers, as you will see below.  
Only a few hours later and your humble writer was fending off well targeted fish, flung from the hand of a small boy.  No, it wasn't feeding time at my young nephew's, but a very bizarre scene in a film I've been luckily enough to get my mug in, involving a staged food fight.  As they whistled past my head, I imagined going to the doctors with a fish-related black eye... 

Anyway, Back to those whiskies.  The name Port Askaig will excite many of you - its precise location lies to the north east of Islay where, a certain distillery, surrounded in spectacular scenery, lies in wait.  It is now the name of a new range of single malts, exclusively bottled by Speciality Drinks, the contents of which come from the mightly Caol Ila distillery- and we were itching to get stuck in!! here's our findings. We'll be reviewing the 'cask strength' edition in a later post...

Port Askaig - single malt- aged 17 years - 45.8% - 70cl

Nose: Lovely fresh and floral notes are the first thing your nostrils will notice- perhaps even some lilies and a hint of grapefruit?  Further in, and some lovely waxy comb honey rears up, mixed with some of the sweetest, softest peat i've come across in a while.  This has an aroma which belies its age masterfully.  

Palate:  The classic coal/oil mix of Caol Ila breaks through and then you're into creamy fudge, fizzy sherbet, followed by a sharp, salty, coastal note.  It shares some similarity with Ardbeg's Airgh Nam Beist, albeit with less of those sweeter, richer notes and silky mouth feel, but a satisfying licorice note and more fresh lemon really gives this a really classy edge.  

Finish:  Some excellent length with the oily notes slowly fading away over time.

Overall: A superb example of one of my new favourite Islay malts.  
we also got to sample the 17 yo's older brother, which at 25 years old is certainly the oldest Caol Ila ! have tried!

Port Askaig - single malt- aged 25 years - 45.8% - 70cl

Nose: Rich and textured with lots of summer fruits, seasoned oak, red wine and again, that soft older peat.  Very expressive for an older beast...

Palate: Some firey licorice, woody spices, a faint hint of cereal and another squirt of that soft, flavoursome peat.  It still retains that coal/oil feel of the 17, but it is much less pronounced. A little sweetness decends on the palate, in the shape of swizzle sticks (remember them, you older folks??!) dipped in honey.  

Finish: The sweetness dies away and leads into the drier, woody notes that your would expect from an older whisky, the coal like notes returning long into the finish. 

Overall: Another highly regarded dram which certainly raises the bar for all other Independent bottling's of Caol Ila.  The 17 yo just pips it to the post for me, in terms of overall excitement but, make no mistake, these are some serious whiskies that any Caol Ila fan should take a look at.