Nose: Crisp, stony smoke hides a layer of muddy peat. There are hints of flowers and a thick and spicy middle, reminding me of sponge-cake batter.
Palate: A syrupy sweet start is quickly overtaken by flinty smoke and charcoal dust, sherbert fountains, lemons and a hint of violet.
Finish: Long and lingering, with sappy wood and sherbet lemons giving way to wood ash in a cast iron stove. After that there’s a lingering green leafiness – fruit leaves? Water: Dirties up the nose with heavily smoked bacon and adds more sweet and sour fruit to the body – lemons, limes and berries galore. The finish loses some of its its ashy bitterness, becoming softer and sweeter.
Nose: Honeyed and autumnal; bonfires, dried leaves; bandages, swimming pools and bonfires again as the phenols creep in. Coal tar soap; spongecake; marshmallows; caster sugar. More earthiness as it develops. Water lifts bacon fat aromas initially (perhaps even a hint of black pudding?), then some more summery hints of sweetpea, raspberry leaf & honeysuckle gradually emerge.
Palate: Lovely silky mouthfeel; upfront smoky burnt wood, more pronounced and assertive than the nose suggests; varying aspects of lemon (zest, pith and cheesecake); a seeingly austere flavour profile initially allied with a luxurious texture. Takes water very well – the smoke and soot relax in intensity, making it even more easy to drink…
Finish: Very good length. Becomes sweeter. Lingering soot and smoke, with a growing lemony citrus tang; some lightly drying oak at the death.
Comment: The King is dead… Long live the King. Port Askaig Harbour 19yo is a very worthy successor to a vanished great, sharing the 17yo’s characteristic of inducing an almost automatic repour and a strong urge to throw the cork away. If I wasn’t so hugely sentimentally attached to the 17yo - sorry if I forgot to mention that already - I might even confess to preferring this, but that would be too much, too soon. Suffice on this solemn occasion to say that I’m glad on two counts: firstly, that I have a small stash of the 17yo tucked away for special occasions; and second, that for as long as the replacements taste this good, I won’t be too sad for too long.