The trip to Islay was probably the highlight of my 2+ weeks in Europe. Being able to see the distilleries I’ve been reading about and tasting drams from for years was amazing. This post covers our first day of distillery visits, and a bunch of pictures from our walk down the road from Port Ellen to Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg.
At Laphroaig, we did a tour, and I’ve included some pictures from that. It concluded with a dram of the 2016 Cairdeas in the Lounge. We also claimed our rent for our friends of Laphroaig plots and placed Canadian flags on our square feet of land. The Cairdeas is aged in ex bourbon and finished in Madeira.
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Madeira – 51.6% ABV
- Appearance: Ncf, uncoloured. Light yellow with pink hues.
- Nose: Tons of berry, light sweet peat, bit of smoke, apples, pears, honey
- Palate: Way more peat than the nose, fruity… berries apples pears, apricots. Slight phenolic smokiness.
- Finish: Long smoky
- Score: 90/100
- Overall: very nice combo of Laphroaig iodine peatiness and fruity notes.
Next we visited Lagavulin where they were short staffed and wouldn’t let us go to where the distillery name is on the wall near the sea… you’ll notice I have a picture of it which happened because after visiting Ardbeg, I was a little tipsy and decided to go through a gate and run through the distillery to find it. I have a selfie with it as well (because my wife wouldn’t join me). good times. This is the 8yr anniversary bottling.
- Lagavulin 8 – 48% ABV
- Appearance: Pale yellow straw. Def uncoloured.
- Nose: Peat, apple, medicinal peat, slight smoke.
- Palate: Ashy smoke, campfire, boggy peat, oily mouthfeel, some fruity notes. Agave, apple blossom. Tastes young but quite nice still.
- Finish: Medium length, smoky, ashy.
- Score: 85/100
- Overall: good potential but tastes quite young and more ashy than I tend to like.
Lastly, we went to Ardbeg where I figured they’d also be sharing their Feis Isle releases and wasn’t anticipating much, given the calibre of releases recently. We started with Kildalton, which is named after the Celtic cross about 7 miles down the road. It’s the 2014 Feis Isle release aged in ex-bourbon.
Ardbeg Kildalton – 46% ABV
- Appearance: Light yellow, uncoloured. Thick legs
- Nose: Malty, light peat smoke, oaky vanilla,
- Palate: Phenols, iodine, oaky and tannic , ashy smoke. Light peat. Young. With water it’s a bit more floral and vegetal.
- Finish: Medium and smoky
- Score: 81/100
- Overall: quite young and somewhat one-note.
Next up, we tried the Dark Cove, which refers to something I’m not aware of. After Kildalton, I wasn’t expecting great things. The Dark Cove is ex-bourbon and finished in ex-sherry.
Ardbeg Dark Cove – 46.5% ABV
- Appearance: Darker than Kildalton with obvious sherry cask influence. Gold.
- Nose: Much different, tons of fruit and sweet sugars. Raspberries and strawberries. Caramel oak.
- Palate: Fruity and smoky. Apples, strawberries, raspberries. Vegetal peat and smoke. More berries, more smoke and floral grassy malt. Great balance of sweet elements and peatiness. Tastes like a younger Uig.
- Finish: long and fruity
- Score: 91/100
- Overall: Loved it. they stepped up their limited release game in 2016. I’d be tempted to buy it if it weren’t like $200 in Canada.
started and ended the day on great drams. Laphroaig was particularly fun finding our plots, planting our flags and getting our mini glencairns and minis of Laphroaig 10. Beautiful walk along the three distillery path with sheep everywhere and rolling hills around you. Gorgeous area.
Next stop will be Bruichladdich!