They say that the devil no longer visits Islay, which is why one policeman is sufficient for a population of thousands. We'll be taking a closer look at exactly why Satan might be staying away from the isle tomorrow, but just because the lord of darkness is absent, that doesn't mean you're necessarily safe from the horrors of hell!
Laphroaig, of course, is a distillery that's seen its fair share of horror with former owner and co-founder Donald Johnston having fallen into a vat of raging hot spent lees in 1847! That's ten whole years after the devil's supposed final visit and poor old Donald tragically died from his injuries shortly after.
The single malt whiskies of Laphroaig are hugely popular and well-loved by many including, undoubtedly, the over-whelming majority of the peat-loving Fèis Ìle crowd. Their smoky intensity can also be challenging for some though, and it doesn't necessarily matter whether they're newcomers to whisky or dedicated whisky fans. This has led to their 'Marmite-esque' reputation and subsequent marketing campaigns.
"Your first glass may also be your last..."
"Love it or Hate it."
Tales From The Isle has been dealing with dark side of Islay and its whiskies all week, and whether it's your food heaven or food hell, you'd have to agree Marmite is a little on the dark side...
"Don't be afraid of the dark..."
Don't be afraid of the dark? We couldn't agree more, that's exactly why we've just released a new range of whiskies finished in tiny Sherry casks called Darkness! including a (rapidly sold out) 21 year old PX Ardbeg. So the question is, I guess, does the new Cairdeas released for Laphroaig Day have a soul as black as coal? Well, no actually. It's not pink either, it's actually very, very yellow.
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 Edition – 51.4%
Created each year by Master Distiller John Campbell, this new edition of "Cairdeas", which means 'friendship' in Gaelic, was matured in bourbon barrels and Amontillado hogsheads.
Tasting Note for Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 Edition
Nose: Banana, honey and something I genuinely wasn't expecting at all: Marmite. This made me laugh almost as much as when last year's Kilchoman bottling had a soy note. I don't think it's auto-suggestion either, as I never expected that there would be any link on either occasion in terms of the flavour profile. To be needlessly over-specific (which I really can't help from time to time), it's like when you hit Marmite until it changes colour. #Science (the flavour changes too). Yeah, so basically yeast. There's a heap of brown sugar in here too as well as peaty porridge and a little dried papaya.
Palate: Bacon, dates, a bit more yeast and well-barbecued apple slices.
Finish: Some kind of salted barbecued goods (not my Mastermind subject).
Overall: Breakfast whisky, only the breakfast is a bit all over the place. It's many breakfasts at once really, which, as it's a whisky not a breakfast, might be fine I suppose. A bit odd nonetheless - reminds me of a specific Fettercairn single cask I once tasted, only with some yummy Laphroaigness going on as well.
Laphroaig Day. Just gorgeous. Maybe we'll do a Laphroaig Boutique-y release one day...*
Now, those of you who've followed our travails on Islay before will be aware of a little thing called 'International Port Ellen Day' (iPed) hosted by the one and only Jon Beach off of Fiddler's Whisky Bar & Restaurant in Drumnadrochit, near Loch Ness. He's also the chap holding the chamois leather and lemon sherbets on the front of That Boutique-y Whisky Company's Port Ellen bottlings. Sadly, Jon couldn't make it over to Fèis Ìle this year, but we took it upon ourselves to hold a little iPed 2014 in his honour.
Some sunglasses were smashed, some liquid was poured out for absent homies, and some was also enjoyed in a more conventional manner...
Port Ellen 30 Year Old 1982 - Old and Rare (Hunter Laing) - 53.6%
Tasting Note for Port Ellen 30 Year Old 1982 - Old and Rare (Hunter Laing)
Nose: Lemon sherbet (!), charcoal and a little zesty orange supported by subtle spicy malt.
Palate: Wonderful balanced smoke, exactly the kind you hope for in a Port Ellen, coastal around the edges with a little more citrus. Is there a little apple juice in here?
Finish: Long, light, smoky, fruity. Delightful.
Overall: This has gone rather well.
Unfortunately we couldn't share this tasting with too many people, but there is still a way for everybody on the island to get their hands on some Port Ellen as it can be found in The Lost Distilleries Blend! And we have loads of samples left! If you spot the Master of Malt Mobile then flag us down - indeed, many of you have done 'the signal' already. Don't feel you have to Cairdeas** us either - if you see one of our handsome faces at a distillery day then be sure to collar us, we should have some samples on us as well as vouchers for our Lost Distilleries & Reference Series giveaway deal. Win.
To make it even easier to find us, let me tell you a little more information about our general travelling about the place. Just as everybody was starting to tire of my 24 hour, chronological Britpop and '90s playlist (yep), we discovered that somebody had left Disk 1 of Drum & Bass Classics in the Master of Malt Mobile's CD player. If, therefore, as you walk around this tranquil and picturesque isle you suddenly hear Goldie, Conquering Lion or even M Beat ft. General Levy just blaring out from somewhere in an entirely inappropriate fashion then you'll know that we're nearby even if you can't see us...
It's certainly kept us amused between whiskies.
The only other help I can give you is that you can easily recognise me - I'll be the one simply covered in midge bites. Whisky Squad's Jason B. Standing says I look like I've come as a join the dots puzzle. Bloody, sodding midges.
I look like this, but more spotty.
* Don't worry chaps, a MoMister always pays his debts.
** say "car-chase"