Islay whiskies are known for their peatiness, although not all the distilleries on the island produce this style - Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain have little or no peat in their standard expressions and Caol Ila produce an unpeated batch every year, while even the famously smoky Ardbeg has an unpeated expression, Blasda. Read More »
Distilled in 1999, the 2011 release of the unpeated Caol Ila 12yo is an absolute belter - and amazingly easy to drink, even at its slightly scary full strength of 64%. Bottled from first fill ex-bourbon American oak casks, this was one of our favourites in the 2011 Special Releases.
Introduced in 2010, this is the relaunched version of Bunnahabhain 18yo, with owners Burn Stewart having ditched the caramel colouring and chill-filtration and upped the strength to 46.3%. A triumph for 'naturalist' whisky drinkers and a PR triumph for Burn Stewart - Bravo!
IWSC - Gold Medal Winner World Whiskies Awards 2014: Best Islay Single Malt 13-20
Finished in Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes casks, this has all the expected Bruichladdich characteristics - seaspray, brine, floral notes - with a deliciously smooth extra veneer of sweetness. A deservedly popular 'Laddie.
The 1997 vintage of Lagavulin's Distillers Edition bottled in 2013. By far the most popular of the Distiller's Edition series this double matured Lagavulin has had a finishing period in sweet, sticky Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. A whisky that never disappoints.
The 12th release of 12 year old Lagavulin from Diageo's Special Releases range. A perennial favourite, balancing price against a punchy cask strength edition of whisky from one of Islay's most mysterious distilleries.
2013's unpeated release of Caol Ila is named for distillery manager Billy Stitchell, who is retiring after almost 40 years at the distillery. This year it's been bottled without an age statement and despite being 'unpeated' there's a definite smoky tang to the whisky, although less so than in previous years.
X4 is Bruichladdich's quadruple-distilled experimental revival of usquebaugh-baul, the 'perilous spirit'. Having come off the stills at around 90%, this much-discussed distillate has now reached three years of age and can be called whisky. Bottled at an eye-watering 63.5%.
A 1999 vintage Laphroaig from independent bottler Hunter Laing as part of their Old Malt Cask series. Distilled in March, it was aged in refill butt 10167 for 15 years before 292 bottles were yielded in June 2014.
Another outstanding single cask cask-strength Bowmore from Signatory. Just about everything in this 'Cask Strength Collection' series has been very good and several have been exceptional. Distilled on June 13 1997 and aged for 16 years in hogsheads 1916 and 1917, this was bottled on February 19 2014.