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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: The Character of Islay Whisky Company

Looking for a top Burns Night dram?

Don’t miss out on your celebrations just because of the lockdown. You can still pick yourself a bottle of delicious Scotch whisky and toast Scotland’s favourite son in style. The…

Don’t miss out on your celebrations just because of the lockdown. You can still pick yourself a bottle of delicious Scotch whisky and toast Scotland’s favourite son in style.

The 25 January is the birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns and usually at this time people around the world mark it with an extravagant affair of food, music and malt. Burns Night this year, however, is taking place smack bang in the middle of a lockdown. So, we’re going to have to do things a little differently.

That doesn’t mean we can’t have a brilliant time of feasting and festivities. There’s going to be a raft of virtual celebrations we can get involved in and there’s nothing stopping you from donning a kilt, picking up some haggis and ensuring you’ve got some tasty Scotch whisky to enjoy. That’s why we’ve put together this list of some delightful expressions perfect for a long night of drinking, dancing and entertainment.

Slange Var!

The perfect Burns Night drams

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Robert Burns Single Malt 

Drinking any Scotch whisky on Burns Night is a fitting way to celebrate the man himself. But, picking yourself up a bottle that bears his name? Now we’re talking. The Robert Burns Single Malt was produced by the Isle of Arran Distillers, who are patrons of the ‘Robert Burns World Federation’. So you can be sure this beauty was made with true reverence for the Bard.

What does it taste like?

Pear juice, coconut, custard, vanilla, panna cotta, lime peel, apple strudel and cinnamon.

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old Cask Strength (Batch 001) 

If you’ve tasted Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire, you’ll already know it’s brilliant. But the clever clogs behind this cracking Islay single malt have taken things up a notch. How? By bottling the whisky at a cask strength 57.5% ABV. This is a Burns Night dram for those who really love their complex and smoky Islay whiskies.

What does it taste like?

Strong sea breeze, roasted barley, grounded by flame raisins, red apples, earthy peat, sherried richness, strong coffee with a dash of milk, charred oak and a flash of spicy yet fruity red pepper flake.

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Talisker 10 Year Old 

There are few better bang-for-your-buck whiskies than this classic Island dram from the Isle of Skye. Talisker 10 Year Old is one of those expressions that has a place in the heart of all whisky fans. Its versatile profile means it’s great neat, in cocktails and when paired with food, making it ideal if you’d like to enjoy your Scotch in different ways on the night.

What does it taste like?

Smoke, sweet pear and apple peels, maritime salt, seaweed, peat, black pepper, brine and dry barley. 

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Darkness 8 Year Old

One for fans of sherry bombs. This 8-year-old single malt Scotch whisky was matured initially in ex-bourbon barrels before being moved into tiny, custom-made Oloroso sherry octave casks for at least three months. When you use smaller casks you increase the intensity of wood’s influence on your spirit. And when you have beautiful hand-coopered sherry casks, this leads to most excellent results.

What does it taste like?

Candied orange peels, chocolate peanuts, cooking spice warmth, dried cherry, Amaretti biscuits, subtly toasty hints, powerful raisin and prune, just a touch of earthy oak lingers.

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old 

There’s plenty of mystery about this dram. From its intriguing name (it’s an anagram, see if you can figure it out…) to the fact it’s sourced from an undisclosed distillery on Islay. But, one thing we know for sure is that it’s damn tasty. An approachable introduction to Scotland’s most distinctive collection of distilleries, Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old captures the true taste of Islay with its smoky, sweet and maritime profile.

What does it taste like?

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, honey, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

Perfect for some Burns Night dramming!

Regions of Scotland Tasting Set 

There’s no better way to familiarise yourself with the wonderful world of Scotch whisky than this tasting set. The ultimate introduction to the famed whisky regions of Scotland, Islay, the Highlands, the Lowlands, Speyside and Campbeltown, this creation from Drinks by the Dram contains five 30ml samples of deliciousness. Which means there’s sure to be something you love inside. Why have one Burns Night dram, when you can have five?

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#WhiskySanta’s Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983 – The Character of Islay Whisky Company Super Wish

Dasher would blush at how quickly #WhiskySanta has been busting his jolly chops to get you all the goodies you desire, but he’s still found time to give away another…

Dasher would blush at how quickly #WhiskySanta has been busting his jolly chops to get you all the goodies you desire, but he’s still found time to give away another stunning Scotch for this week’s Super Wish. 

While I’ve been working around the clock to put a Santa’s ransom worth of gifts in the hands of those who pleasantly send in their many wonderful wishes, I’ve taken the odd moment to reflect on that truest of sayings, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone. Which is a lesson I never seem to learn when it comes to mince pies. 

It’s also true of whisky. How many times have we seen demand for certain bottles explode after a distillery has closed? But, while there aren’t many things whisky lovers dream of more than tasting the rare remaining spirits available, sadly a small supply equals a big price tag so few get the chance to do so. But not this time. Because this week you’ve got a chance to pick up a bottle of… 

Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983 (Release No.11535) – The Stories of Wind & Wave (The Character of Islay Whisky Company), for absolutely free!

#WhiskySanta’s Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983 - The Character of Islay Whisky Company Super Wish

This is what Islay whisky lovers see when they close their eyes

This impressive single malt, which has one of the longest product names I’ve ever seen, incidentally, was actually distilled the same year the legendary Port Ellen Distillery closed, back in 1983, and has been matured for 35 years before being bottled by that lovely lot at The Character of Islay Whisky Company. It’s for the Wind & Wave series, which is all about showing off the most delightful whiskies from tIslay and this bottling is indeed a delight.

I’m going to run you through how this Super Wish works again because I don’t want anyone missing out on a whisky this good due to a little misunderstanding (like that time the elves didn’t pick up that bottle of Karuizawa Noh I wanted because they thought I said “Karuizawa? No.” I’ll never forgive them). To make a wish, head to the product page and then click the ‘Wish’ button. It’s not hard to miss, it’s red as Rudolph’s nose. A box with options for a pre-populated Twitter or Facebook post will then appear and all you have to do is publish your wish. For those who love the ‘gram (I understand that’s what the kids call Instagram), you can just pop a post on your feed, but don’t forget to use the #WhiskySanta hashtag so the rascals at MoM can find your wish. 

#WhiskySanta’s Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983 - The Character of Islay Whisky Company Super Wish

Just give it the ol’ click-and-wish.

Now get those wishes in and give yourself the chance to land the best Christmas present around. In the meantime, I’m going to grab myself another couple mince pies fresh from the oven and try to remember to appreciate them this time…  and they’re gone. One day I’ll learn.

#WhiskySanta

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #10: Green Isle

Opening door number ten of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar takes you on a journey across the flavours of Scotch whisky with a blend called Green Isle.  …

Opening door number ten of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar takes you on a journey across the flavours of Scotch whisky with a blend called Green Isle.  

Day ten already?! There’s only two weeks to go! By now the panic should be setting in. You promised yourself “I’m going to be really organised this year” but you’ve eaten more mince pies than you have bought presents… But enough about that, time to find out what’s behind door number 10!

Open today’s door and you will find something special from the Character of Islay Company. Called Green Isle, it’s a blend of Islay and Speyside malts with Lowland grain whiskies. While Islay may be synonymous with ferociously peaty flavour, the Lowland and Speyside influence give Green Isle a delightfully sweet, and fruity quality that pairs with the subtle smokiness coming from the Islay malt. This really is a journey through Scotch whisky. It also makes the perfect dram for anyone who is Islay curious but not quite ready to take on the peated big hitters. It’s absolutely delicious neat, or in a Highball.

Like other whiskies from the Character of Islay Whisky Company, there’s hidden meaning in the name Green Isle. We had a few ideas, but we thought we’d ask Sam Simmons for the full story… 

Master of Malt: Tell me about the make-up of Green Isle?

Sam Simmons: Green Isle is a blended Scotch whisky with an Islay heart, but it’s so much more than the iodine, brine and peat the island is typically associated with. It does, I hope, capture the full range of Islay whisky; the numerous styles produced by the island’s distilleries and the very experience of being there: the food, the weather, the people. Green Isle is blended in the tradition of the great blends of old that used Islay in their flavour make-up, such as White Horse, Islay Mist, Johnnie Walker, and hopes both to invite new drinkers to Islay and to satiate the palates of the Islay-initated.

If you’re an Islay lover or just Islay curious, you’ll love Green Isle

MoM: We’ve seen Aerolite Lyndsay already, how does Green Isle fit into the Character of Islay range? 

SS: We like to think of it as an approach to Islay, like taking the CalMac ferry or even flying in on Logan Air, it’s an approach to Islay for those who are turned off by what they’ve heard of Islay (peaty, medicinal, etc.). Green Isle is sweet, smooth and smoky. For those who may fear the heavy, sometimes medicinal smokiness so commonly associated with Islay whiskies, Green Isle is instead a representation of what in reality is a much more complex and wide flavour profile offered by the distilleries of Islay. For those who know and love Islay, it has an aroma that conjures up everything we love about Islay, the sea, the damp, the wellies, the sweet memories of new friendships and old companions, and that whiff of peat that is always in the air.   

MoM: Any hidden meaning in the name ‘Green Isle’? 

SS: The name was inspired by Neil Gunn’s 1944 Green Isle of the Great Deep, a Scottish parable told fully in dialect that takes its protagonists to a parallel Highland universe called the Green Isle. Green Isle is a sweet, smooth and smoky dram that speaks to the glory days of blending when Scotch took on the world, before anyone outside Scotland really knew what Islay was. When it was still a mystery to most. Green Isle hopes to entice the new drinker into this previously unknown universe, and provide transport for the experienced drinker who longs for it. 

MoM: Any more plans for blends from Character of Islay?

SS: There are currently no plans for more blended whiskies inside the Character of Islay range, but as a lover of the history and art of blended scotch, you never know…

MoM: What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received? 

SS: Hanukkah, innit. Though I did marry into the best Christmas I could find. So perhaps Norwegian Christmas is the best gift I could have asked for…

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Softly toasted barley, warming oak, honey glazed apples and cut grass.

Palate: Vanilla pod earthiness builds on the palate, paired with coastal peat, pear drops and crushed peppercorns.

Finish: Lingering wafts of dry smoke and buttery biscuits.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #1: Aerolite Lyndsay

It’s the first of December, which can only mean one thing! Drum roll please… 24 days, 24 doors, and 24 delicious drams of coming your way! Now, what could be…

It’s the first of December, which can only mean one thing! Drum roll please… 24 days, 24 doors, and 24 delicious drams of coming your way! Now, what could be behind the first door of our Whisky Advent Calendar.

It’s that time of year again, and unlike previous years it’s safe to say its taken slightly longer to come around in 2020 – but enough of that, there will be no mention of the ‘L’ word in this whisky post! It’s the season to rack the brain to remember where you stuffed all that Christmas stuff; time to untangle those fairy lights, to deck the halls, and put out that one Christmas decoration everyone secretly hates but which goes up because ‘it’s traditional’; time to cram the cupboard with snacks, safe in the knowledge that you’ll “run it off in January”. And oh yes!, it’s time to open your Advent Calendar and drink some ruddy good whisky! 

What better place to start the advent-ure (sorry, we’re getting you prepared for cracker jokes) than with a ten year old Islay single malt from the Character of Islay Whisky Company: Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old. With it being the first day of winter, this warming, sweet and smoky dram will have you lighting the fire and getting cosy under a tartan blanket. When we asked the folks at The Character of Islay Whisky Company about the whisky, they said it’s simple, everything you need to know is in the name, Aerolite Lyndsay. Any ideas? 

We caught up with the Character of Islay’s head of whisky Dr. Sam Simmons to explain:

Islay

Islay, it’s pretty special

Master of Malt: What makes Islay so special? 

Dr. Sam Simmons: In short, I don’t know. Magic? It’s just one of many islands off the west coast of Scotland but of the hundreds that pepper the coast, none is as revered, certainly amongst whisky lovers, as the Queen of the Hebrides. While it’s a destination for many bird watchers, cyclists, and more, as a destination for those for whom whisky is almost a religion, Islay holds holy status, with thousands making the pilgrimage annually.

Some come every year, others plan their lives around eventually visiting. They go with family, friends and fellow whisky lovers – it’s a special trip because they know that Islay whisky is all a part of something bigger.  

Islands are rocks in the middle of bodies of water and the islands of the west coast of Scotland are made of tough rocks, making them pretty unfavourable agricultural environments. Yet Islay once had over 20 licenced working distilleries, it has nine today or 11 if you include those in planning. So I’m sure Ileachs themselves as well as the whisky pilgrims, and you, share the belief that there is some kind of magic to this place. No one visits just once, or at least few are left without the urge to return. 

MoM: When did you first go to Islay?

SS: I first visited in 2004 with my whisky appreciation club, The Edinburgh University Water of Life Society.

MoM: Tell us more about this mysterious Aerolite Lyndsay

SS: As Islay whisky’s popularity has grown and competition increased, recent years have seen a proliferation of complex liquid propositions and elaborate back stories from the great distilleries of Islay.  Aerolite Lyndsay looks back to a time when whisky was simpler. Where it did what it said on the tin and what it said on the tin was enough: Extra Old Highland whisky, 8 year old Speyside, or 10 year old Islay. Aerolite Lyndsay is the kind of Islay whisky that you share with friends whether they love whisky or are new to it. As Dave Broom wrote about it, a “great Islay dram to share during a drinking session. Glasses, friends, throw the cork away”. 

Sam Simmons

It’s Dr Whisky himself, Sam Simmons!

MoM: Any exciting plans for Character of Islay in 2021?

SS: Well we are very lucky to have good stocks of interesting Laphroaigs, Bowmores, Ardbegs and more to release as Wind & Wave single casks, but we also have a good amount of rich sherried malt from a distillery that will remain unnamed.  I would really like to get this whisky into a bottle in 2021 as a counterpoint to Aerolite Lyndsay in character and style. 

MoM: Favourite and least favourite Christmas snack? 

SS: I married into a Christmas rich with traditional foods and rituals, so Norwegian specialities have to make an appearance here. I am not a fan of mince pies but I love Norwegian Christmas cookies: krumkaker, kransekake, berlinerkrans and pepperkaker/gingerbread (try it with Stilton, it’s a revelation!)

MoM: You’ve received a one of a kind whisky time machine for Christmas. You can take one whisky bottle, from any point in history. What is it?

SS: Having just finished Dr. Nick Morgan’s Long Stride, old Johnnie Walkers would be a real treat to explore, but equally Nick discusses the “craze” of toddy drinking and the whisky that was blended particularly with this drinking method in mind. I would love a chance to taste some of these drops and get some perspective on ‘good taste’,  how it has changed, and continues to change, in Scotch whisky. 

Thank you Dr Sam!

Aerolite Lyndsay – a great start to advent

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Smoky peat, with a honey sweetness, a slight spiciness with salted caramel and seasoned oak.

Palate: Smoky and salty with rich minted cocoa, espresso and leathery notes with a final hint of honeyed soy. 

Finish: Menthol, soft liquorice, wood smoke and rich buttery toffees with a final pinch of salt to finish. 

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Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love!

From an Islay single malt whisky to Jaffa Cake Rum, here’s a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at Master of Malt. We think there’s something here…

From an Islay single malt whisky to Jaffa Cake Rum, here’s a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at Master of Malt. We think there’s something here for everyone. As long as you want booze, that is.   

Here at MoM Towers, we’ve spent plenty of time tasting, sampling and mixing our way through some of the world’s finest drinks over the years so that we can pass on our knowledge and share our passion with you lovely people. Naturally, we develop favourites and so we thought it would be fun to round-up some staff standouts and recommend them to you, from beautiful blended whisky to innovative rum and more.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company with Enamel Mug

We’re always going to love a delightful, versatile and award-winning (Islay Single Malt 12 Years and Under at the World Whiskies Awards 2020, don’t you know) single malt from Islay but the fact that this beauty comes with a charming enamel mug perfect for enjoying a Hot Toddy in just makes it all the better. Oh, and if you need a recipe, Tammy Jackson (of @forcocktailsake fame) makes a particularly good one, which you can see her doing here.

What does it taste like?

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, soy sauce, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Kyrö x Ki No Bi Gin

Kyrö Distillery has launched a neat little series where it teams up with other brands to create something tasty, which is an idea we’re very much in favour of! For the first of its Kyrö x Friends releases the Finnish spirit-makers partnered with Kyoto Distillery over in Japan to celebrate 100 years of diplomacy between Japan and Finland, and created a gin that combines the best of each distillery’s local botanicals in one trans-continental treat.

What does it taste like?

A touch of berry fruit and red florals, with distinctive yuzu citrus and oily, piney juniper, leading into peppery spice and a smidge of savoury seaweed.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Jaffa Cake Rum

Combining two wonderful things doesn’t always work (my hamster never accepted that damn tiny sombrero) but this combination of Jaffa Cakes and rum is an absolute winner that we can’t help but talk about. It’s made with actual Jaffa Cakes, folks, which are blended alongside oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder with Caribbean rum to create this expression, which makes for a mean Daiquiri or Rum Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?

Rich hot chocolate, zesty orange, subtle ginger heat, vanilla pod earthiness, subtly grassy rum, cakey sweetness and a tangy hint of tropical fruit.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Aberlour 10 Year Old

There’s always going to room for vibrant, fruity and rewarding drams in our drinks cabinet, which is why it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a bottle like Aberlour 10 Year Old on-hand. Plus it represents outstanding bang for your buck. What’s not to love?

What does it taste like?

Sherried raisins, toffee, spicy rich fruitcake, foam bananas, honey, sweet spices and a pleasant nuttiness.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Eleventh Hour Gin

The Derbyshire Distillery made this dry gin by combining botanicals including juniper, angelica, cassia, ginger, coriander, orris, lemon, sour cherry and poppy seeds. The last ingredient is something of a symbolic choice, as £3 of each bottle of Eleventh Hour that’s sold will aid The Royal British Legion to make a difference. Tasty gin is one thing, but when you know that every bottle you purchase will support who served in the armed forces past and present, it’s really something.

What does it taste like?

Softly fruity, with cherry and lemon standing out amongst the angelica, spicy juniper and anise notes.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old

A favourite of critics, an absolute bargain, a versatile option and an all-round tasty blend, there’s no secret as to why we enjoy Chivas Regal 12 Year Old. The world-famous Scotch blend was first made in the early 20th century by Chivas Brothers and continues to charm us to this day.

What does it taste like?

A creamy, aromatic melange of vanilla custard, hints of aniseed, lemon curd, butter toffee, dried banana chips, barley malt, ground walnut, caramel and cereal sweetness.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 

A deep, dark and rich twist on the delightful Woodford Reserve, Double Oaked is made using the same process as its classic sister expression but is then further matured in barrels which have been heavily toasted and lightly charred. Why do we like this one so much? Two words: Old. Fashioneds.

What does it taste like?

Lots of sweet oaken character, as well as rich fruit, vanilla and caramel notes.

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New Arrival of the Week: Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (COIWC)

Today we’re welcoming a series of exciting bottlings at MoM from that mecca for whisky lovers, the Jewel of the Hebrides itself, Islay, including releases from Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Octomore…

Today we’re welcoming a series of exciting bottlings at MoM from that mecca for whisky lovers, the Jewel of the Hebrides itself, Islay, including releases from Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Octomore and, rarest of all, Port Ellen. The collection is called The Stories of Wind and Wave and it’s brought to you from the aptly-named Character of Islay Whisky Company.

It can be quite an adventure getting to Islay. Many times Master of Malt team members have tried to reach the island only to be thwarted by adverse weather conditions. And should you be lucky enough to have your flight from Glasgow cleared for take off, the wind-blown descent into the island’s airport on the tiny propeller plane can be terrifying for the uninitiated. Or there’s the joy of a two hour crossing on a CalMac ferry through rough seas. The fun doesn’t stop when you arrive down either, on a visit last year to visit Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe, the air was thick with the scent of burnt heather. A combination of high winds, dry weather, and, probably, a stray cigarette end had set much of the south of the island on fire. The air smelt just like Islay whisky. 

For whisky lovers, this very inaccessibility is part of the magic of the island. You have to really want to visit. And the lure is, of course, the extraordinary concentration of distilleries all with their own unique character and the way the whiskies taste of their location, salt, peat smoke and seaweed. There are other peated whiskies from Scotland, but it’s the ones from Islay that get all the attention. 

Laphroaig John Campbell

Laphroaig on a rare sunny day

Those names, Ardbeg, Bowmore, and Laproaig, are music to whisky enthusiasts. And aiming to bottle some of that music, if such a thing were even possible, is a batch of rare malts that has just landed at MoM towers. It’s from our friends at the Character of Islay Whisky Company which previously released whiskies from anonymous distilleries on the island, but for this batch has revealed where they came from. Which is nice of them. The series is called the Stories of Wind and the Wave and includes bottlings from Bowmore, Laproaig and Ardbeg (see below). Plus still to come some Octomore and something tres fancy from Port Ellen.

The one we’re highlighting today is from Laphroaig, the most medicinal of all the Islay whiskies. It gets its distinctive character from only using Islay peat. The distillery has a traditional floor maltings and makes about 25% of its requirements using local Machrie moss peat which cold smokes the barley. The rest of the malt comes from the nearby Port Ellen maltings. Islay peat is largely made from seaweed which is where that love-it-or-hate-it salty iodine flavour comes from. The reason it tastes of the sea is because it comes from the sea, albeit a long time ago. This smokiness is accentuated by taking a late cut, so you get more of that peat smoke. 

The classic expression for lovers of medicinal malts is the 10 year old. But the longer you keep Laphroaig, the less smoky it becomes and the more tropical fruits start to appear. Release No.11693 was distilled in 2004 and aged for 15 years in a refill bourbon cask so you’re not getting that much wood influence. It’s bottled at 50.2% ABV. All that smoky character is still there but it’s been joined by stone fruit and quince (see below for full tastings notes). It’s a great dram to launch a series of rare and unusual whiskies that Islay fans will not want to miss. They’re the next best thing to a visit to the island itself.

Here is the full range of Stories of Wind and Wave whiskies currently available from Master of Malt:

Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11694)

Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11693)

Bowmore 18 Year Old 2001 (Release No.11715)

Bowmore 18 Year Old 2001 (Release No.11714) 

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11698) 

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11699)

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11697)

Ardbeg 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11673)

Tasting note for the Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11693) from The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Waxy peels, peppermint leaf and smoky black tea with a touch of baked earth to it.

Palate: Sweet smoke with savoury hints of salted butter and cedar underneath, plus stone fruit developing later on.

Finish: Polished oak, a touch of ash and continuing fruity elements.

 

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Join our Islay celebrations on Instagram Live!

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of…

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of interviews with the island’s distilleries that features tastings, chats and Q&As.

This is usually the time of year where we would pack our travel bags, camera kit and 10-litre bottles of midge insect repellent to head north to the beautiful Scottish island of Islay to revel in one of the highlights, if not the highlight of the whisky calendar. The week-and-a-bit from 22-30 May was sure to provide all the whisky-dipped merriment you could shake Dave Worthington’s pipe at.

But we have no intention of letting this period pass by without some recognition of an island that is home to some of Scotch whisky’s finest distilleries. Which is why we’ve put together the next best thing. Through the wonderful medium of Instagram Live, we’ve created our own virtual festival by teaming up with the island’s distilleries (and the fab folk at Jura, of course). We’ve put together a programme of tastings, chats and Q&As with your questions, comments and tasting notes to keep the Islay spirit alive and your tasting glass full from the comfort of your own home.

We thoroughly hope you enjoy our virtual Islay celebration. The schedule for the Instagram Live shows is listed below, complete with accompanying dram. Don’t forget, you can always embrace the Islay spirit whenever you like with Drinks by the Dram’s Islay Whisky Tasting Set! Why not order one for you and a pal and set up your own Zoom tasting?

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old

Day One

Who’s joining us? The Character of Islay Whisky Company and its head of whisky, Sam Simmons for a tasting. What a way to kick off proceedings!

What whisky will we be tasting? Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old, Green Isle, Grace Île and Fiona Macleod.

When is it? Friday 22 May at 7:30pm

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Lagavulin will be joining us on day two

Day Two

Who’s joining us? Lagavulin and its distillery manager Colin Gordon for an evening dram and a chat. Grab a tasting glass and get your questions ready for Colin!

What whisky will we be tasting? Lagavulin 8Lagavulin 16.

When is it? Saturday 23 May at 8:30pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Head distiller Adam Hannett will join us for a tasting and Q&A

Day Three

Who’s joining us? Bruichladdich and its head distiller Adam Hannett for a tasting and Q&A. Bruichladdich also has its own Laddie Lock-In, while its ballot system to decide who can get their hands on its alternative festival bottling, Port Charlotte 16, has now concluded.

What whisky will we be tasting? The Classic Laddie.

When is it? Sunday 24 May at 6pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Caol Ila Distillery, as seen from the skies.

Day Four

Who’s joining us? Caol Ila and its distillery manager for an evening dram and a chat with Pierrick Guillaume.

What whisky will we be tasting? Caol Ila 12.

When is it? Monday 25 May at 8:15pm. 

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

We’ll be spending lunchtime with Laphroaig

Day Five

Who’s joining us? Laphroaig for a lunchtime taste and learn session with distillery manager John Campbell. It will also be hosting its own celebration, #LaphroaigLive from 18:15pm.

What whisky will we be tasting? Laphroaig 10.

When is it? Tuesday 26 May at 1pm. 

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The beautiful Bowmore Distillery who will join us on day six

Day Six

Who’s joining us? Bowmore for another lunchtime Live, with time with distillery manager, David Turner. We’ll have a chat about all things whisky, so ready your questions!

What whisky will we be tasting? Bowmore 12.

When is it? Wednesday 27 May at 1pm.

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Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills will stop by to kick-off our Thursday with a bang

Day Seven

Who’s joining us? Kilchoman and its founder Anthony Wills will be kicking off the day with us. The distillery also has quite the online festival Programme, complete with live tastings and a distillery tour.

What whisky will we be tasting? Kilchoman Machir Bay, Loch Gorm 2020, the new Am Burach, 100% Islay 9th Edition, and the official Festival Bottling!

When is it? Thursday 28 May at 10.30am.

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Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà

Day Eight

Who’s joining us? Bunnahabhain and its global brand director, Derek Scott, who will host a tasting with a very delicious dram, usually distillery-exclusive dram (it will also host its own 8pm tasting, ‘Fèis at home‘). 

What whisky will we be tasting? Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà, Bunnahabhain 25-Year-Old, and the very exciting Bunnahabhain 2003 Amontillado Finish, which is usually only available from the distillery.

When is it? Friday 29 May at 5pm.

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The scenic Jura Distillery makes delicious and subtle smoky whisky

Who’s joining us? Jura and Whyte & Mackay’s Gregg Glass, who will be online with us for an evening tasting. 

What whisky will we be tasting? Jura 10 Year Old.

When is it? Friday 29 May evening.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

The stunning Ardbeg Distillery at night

Day Nine

Who’s joining us? Ardbeg and Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks for Ardbeg (and sister distillery Glenmorangie) ,for an Ardbeg Day tasting. You can also join the distillery at 7pm on Facebook for its first-ever online Ardbeg Day!

What whisky will we be tasting? Ardbeg 10An Oa and Blaaack. 

When is it? Saturday 30 May at 3pm.

 

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